Surpassing Factual Preservation

An Interpretive Approach to the Constructionist Pharmaceutical History


  • Xianle Chen Peking University



Historical Positivism, Historical Constructionism, Sociocultural Framework, Interpretive Approach, Theory of Interaction


This historiographical paper gains novelty by rebutting the medicine-centered methodology frequently employed in the positivist studies of pharmaceutical history. Based on the critiques of current literature, this paper conveys two interrelated points. First, the factual approach adopted by positivist pharmaceutical historians demonstrates the explanatory limitations that the report-like discourses on the history of drugs and medicines are too pedantic to be rationally insightful. Second, the attempts of developing a sociocultural framework for the British history of opium consumption remain an underdeveloped topic for the constructionist historiography of pharmaceutical science. Taken together, the author attempts to hypothesize a research methodology for the constructionist pharmaceutical history by introducing a theory of interaction that uses an interpretive approach to humanize the past of drugs and medicines for the philosophical explorations of the human-centered world. In doing so, pharmaceutical history is able to fully realize its long-wasted potential as an intellectual source of enlightenment.


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How to Cite

Chen, Xianle. 2022. “Surpassing Factual Preservation: An Interpretive Approach to the Constructionist Pharmaceutical History”. Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science, no. 13 (November).