History and Philosophy of Science
Where will this take me?
A major in history and philosophy of science will teach you the analytical skills to succeed in your career. You could, for example, become a historian, where you’ll be regarded an expert and thought leader in your area of expertise.
Or, you could become involved in sociology, where you’ll work to shed light on the ways societies – past or present – function and survive. Your extensive knowledge could also see you teaching in a secondary or tertiary setting.
If you’re looking to add to the global bank of knowledge, becoming an academic researcher will prove to be both a rewarding and fascinating opportunity.
Lachie Talbot is currently studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Neuroscience and the History and Philosophy of Science
When searching for breadth subjects for my science degree I was lucky enough to stumble upon the subject Science and Pseudoscience which is an introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science major. The issue of pseudoscience is one of my pet peeves. Pseudosciences make claims about the natural world that have no empirical basis but fraudulently represent themselves as scientific fact. I absolutely loved attending tutorials in which we critiqued these ideas as a group and that lead to me pursuing the major.
History and Philosophy of Science has changed my understanding of how scientific ideas have been shaped by society and global forces, including, for example, the Protestant Reformation and the Atlantic slave trade. I had always assumed that religion was the antithesis of science throughout history, however I learned that Francis Bacon’s eschatology – that idea that corrupted humanity need to be repaired for the imminent return of Christ – was central to the development of Bacon’s nascent scientific method.
Being a neuroscience major in my science degree I was initially perplexed by the History and Philosophy of Science subject Minds and Madness – the history of psychiatry – and its rejection of the triumphant therapeutic march from asylum origins to modern understandings of mental illness. Like many brain science students, I have been indoctrinated by biological explanations of madness and had not encountered the notion of psychiatry as a form of social control. Having now read Foucault and Scull, I possess a new appreciation that psychiatry has historically been a tool of oppressing the deviant and empowering the bourgeoisie. Some anti-psychiatrists have also argued that madness is in fact a sane response to living in an insane capitalist society – something that resonates with many young people.
History and Philosophy of Science has given me a more nuanced view of the neurosciences and I now feel more equipped to undertake research without uncritically accepting biological dogma, as I am cognisant of both the science and the sociology of mental illness.