Currently Reading About Multiple Discoveries September 25, 2013

Political Science Quarterly

Political Science Quarterly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am currently reading a paper from 1922 entitled “Are Inventions Invevitable? A Note on Social Evolution” by William F. Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas from the Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 37, No 1 (March, 1922) pages: 83-98

One of the most interesting points of this article are how cultural situations play into the discovery of inventions. I enjoyed this quote:

“But in most cases we do not know fully enough the cultural situation determining the invention. To say that culture is a determining factor in inventions does not tell us what are the particular cultural elements and conditions.”

This particularly intrigues me from the standpoint of how inventions particularly in the 19th century were discovered and what part did culture play in these discoveries. One of the best parts of the article is the appendix at the back which shows a list of some inventions and discoveries made independently by two or more persons. The list to me was astonishing by its sheer number of 148 and I was truly surprised by the dates and closeness of all these discoveries.

I highly recommend this paper if you have any interest in multiple discoveries. It makes me ponder how the Internet is affecting the social interaction in bringing more inventions to the world.


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