Historical Reconstruction of Scientific Thinking



Type of instruction






Recommended in

Semester 3

Typically offered in

Autumn semester

Course description

The course will provide an overview of the history of Western sciences from its Ancient beginning until the emergence of cognitive sciences in the middle of 20th century. The lectures will focus on the history of scientific thinking instead of the concrete historical events or advancements in scientific disciplines. The history of scientific thinking – following a kind of Lakatosian methodology – will be presented as a historical reconstruction of scientific thinking. (As Lakatos mentioned, the “real history” of science can be identified as footnotes on the “reconstructed” historical process.) The meaning of this reconstruction is clear enough: to present the historical process which eventuated in the formation of cognitive science.

The main topics will be the followings:

  1. Histories of science – a historiographical introduction
  2. Kuhn on the scientific revolutions, Lakatos on the history of sciences
  3. Ancient Greek science. Contemplative science.
  4. Science and technology in the Middle Ages
  5. Emergence of the Modern science in Europe. Knowledge and power
  6. Classical (mechanistic) scientific world view. Clockwork universe.
  7. Challenges to the modern sciences: chance,  heat, evolution, statistics
  8. Modern physical worldview – the modern science
  9. Cybernetics, systems, computers
  10. Behaviourist psychology and its discontents
  11. The cognitive revolution in the 50’s
  12. Alternatives within the cognitive sciences

Learning outcome, competences

  • overview the history of western sciences


  • global overview of the history of Western sciences
  • curiosity towards the inspection of background processes


  • critical perspective, general understanding of the Scientific Thinking

 Learning activities, learning methods: Lectures and interactive discussions

Evaluation of outcomes
Learning requirements, mode of evaluation, criteria of evaluation:


  • attendance

mode of evaluation: examination



  • Kuhn, T. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Lakatos, I. (1970). Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programmes. In: I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (Eds), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (pp. 91-196). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lakatos, I. (1971). History of science and its rational reconstructions. PSA 1970, 91-153.
  • Hall, A. R., & Hall, M. B. (1988). A Brief History of Science. Ames: Iowa State University Press.
  • Sartone, G. (1959). A History of Science I–II. London: Oxford University Press (selected chapters)
  • Taton, R. (Ed.). (1963). History of Science. Ancient and Medieval Science from the Beginnings to 1450. New York: Basic Books. (selected chapters)
  • Dijksterhuis, E. J. (1961). The Mechanization of the World Picture. London: Oxford University Press. (selected chapters).
  • Taton, R. (Ed.). (1964). History of Science. The Beginnings of Modern Science. From 1450 to 1800. New York: Basic Books. (selected chapters)
  • Pickstone, J. V. (2001). Ways of Knowing. A New History of Science, Technology and Medicine. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (selected chapters)
  • Collins, H. M., & Pinch, T. J. (1993). The Golem. What Everybody Should know About Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Boden, M. A. (2006). Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science. Volume 1&2. Oxford: Clarendon Press. (selected chapters)
  • Dupuy, J.-P. (2009). On the origins of cognitive science: the mechanization of the mind. Cambrdige, MA: MIT Press.
  • Gardner, H. (1985). The Mind’s New Science. A History of the Cognitive Revolution. New York: Basic Books. (selected chapters)
  • Miller, G. A. (2003). The cognitive revolution: a historical perspective, TRENDS in Cognitive Science 7(3), 141-144.
  • Pléh, C., Gurova, L., & Ropolyi, L. (2013). New Perspectives on the History of Cognitive Science. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. (selected chapters)