History and philosophy of science in the Belle Époque (1871-1914) – Call for Papers


Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science will receive proposals for articles that seek to reflect on the History and philosophy of science in the Belle Époque for the December 2024 issue.


Characterized as a period of intense technological advances within the scope of the so-called Second Industrial Revolution, the Belle Époque was an era of material, intellectual and social transformations that changed European culture, giving rise to a new lifestyle in which science and technology assumed a prominent role. The impressive development of the electrical, chemical, metallurgical, pharmaceutical and transportation industries fostered the recognition of the transformative value of the sciences and, at the same time, their institutionalization, while urbanization and the railways that cut across the European and American landscapes favored the transit of ideas. In that climate of optimism, guided by the ideology of progress, new scientific theories and reflections on science came to light.

 The emergence of thermodynamics and electromagnetism, fields of physics closely linked to technological evolution, called into question that strictly mechanistic framework and, in opposition to traditional realism, more sophisticated analyses revealed the hypothetical nature of theories, evident in philosophical positions such as conventionalisms and descriptivism and pointed out their analogical character. The advent of non-Euclidean geometries, transfinite numbers and the quarrel between logicism and intuitionism led philosophical interrogation to the very heart of knowledge. Also, the emergence of biological transformism  mobilized enlightened thinking. While some post-Kantian philosophers had emphasized the idea of process in their pantheistic metaphysical conjectures, the scientific evolutionism of a Darwinian hue was seen as having broad implications for the anthropological model and the economic-political systems. Similarly, the relationships between the psychic/spiritual, the organic and the inorganic became a field of discussion and perplexity. Furthermore, by valuing the historical studies of the sciences, the savants-philosophes took the initial steps towards a historical epistemology and, simultaneously, were responsible for revealing the transitory and fallibilist nature of science and the importance of not strictly logical aspects of its foundations since they could be of a metaphysical, psychological, social or others nature.

This issue of Transversal aims to bring together studies on the prominent philosophers (H. von Helmholtz, E. Mach, C. Peirce, L. Boltzmann, W. Ostwald, H. Poincaré, M. Planck, P. Duhem…) and historians (M. Berthelot, M. Cantor, G. Schiaparelli, E. Mach, P. Tannery, G. Milhaud, P. Duhem…) of science from the Belle Époque and articles that explore their interrelations with the broader material and intellectual milieu. If we admit that scientific development can be seen as ideologically guided by social values, it is equally certain that, on several occasions in that period, science itself was used to justify ideologically nuanced theses.

We welcome submissions that explore the following thematic axes:

  • Historiographical narratives of scientific development;
  • Images of science and nature outlined by the main philosopher-scientists of the Belle Époque;
  • Scientific culture and its impacts on the sphere of values;
  • The debate between scientific conventionalism and scientific realism in the emergence of theoretical physics;
  • The interrelationships between university, industry and technology;
  • The multiple historical and epistemological classifications of the sciences and the place of metaphysics.

Submission details:

To be considered for the December 2024 issue, submissions must be received by August 15, 2024, via the journal webpage www.historiographyofscience.org .

Initial submissions can be made in one of the following languages: English, French, Spanish or Portuguese and prepared for double-anonymized review. If accepted, the authors must have them translated into English. Notification of acceptance will be sent on October 15, 2024


For any further information concerning this Call for Papers, please contact:

Fábio R. Leite – Federal University of São João del-Rei – UFSJ

E-mail: frleite@ufsj.edu.br

João Príncipe – University of Évora – UE

E-mail: jpps@uevora.pt


For any further information concerning this Journal, please contact:

Marina S. Duarte – Federal University of Minas Gerais – UFMG

E-mail: marinaduarte@ufmg.br

Fábio R. Leite – Federal University of São João del-Rei – UFSJ

E-mail: frleite@ufsj.edu.br