User:HMaloigne/sandbox/Approaches to Knowledge/2020-21/Seminar group 17/History

History of Chemistry as a Discipline edit

Pinning down the start of Chemistry as a discipline is a difficult task. Earliest indications of material synthesis have been traced back to the Egyptians.[1] Greeks philosophised about subjects like atoms and theorised about the conservation of mass, but both they and the Egyptians did not develop any systematic theory. The development of the scientific method starts with Jabir Ibn Hayyan, a Perso-Arab chemist who first used a laboratory to find empirical results in his studies of chemical substances.[2] However, all of these do not contain the fundamental social aspect to a discipline.

Logo of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

A discipline is usually referred to as knowledge that is taught and researched at college or university level. Applying this definition brings us to the foundation of the Chemistry department at the University of Cambridge in 1702.[3] Shortly after in 1703, the senate of the University of Cambridge bestowed the title of "Professor in Chemistry" on Italian scholar John Francis Vigani, making him the first professor in the newly founded discipline.[4] The discipline of Chemistry in England has since been solidified by the formation of the Chemical Society of London in 1841, which has since merged with the Royal Institute of Chemistry (1877) and the Faraday Society (1903) to become the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1980.[5]

Since the introduction of Chemistry as a discipline, it has undergone significant change. The most significant of these changes has been the introduction of quantum mechanics in physics. The concept of quantum mechanics in electrons has, for example, been applied to electrons in orbitals around atoms. This has caused great change in our understanding of the model of the atom.

History of Photography as a Discipline: The Emergence of Photojournalism edit

Rather than it being a tool of design, the sub branch of photojournalism is distinguished by its focus on telling visual storytelling, and the emphasis which was laid on objectiveness. The foundation of photojournalism was laid in the 1850s where images of scenes in the Crimean War appeared in printed media[6]. Furthermore, the use of the term Photojournalism , as a discipline mixing photography and journalism, was democratized after World War II but its creation by Frank Luther Mott -historian and dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism- is dated 1942. [7] [8]

Photojournalism only began to truly unfold during the 1920s. A major trigger was the invention of the 35mm Leica camera. Its lightweight and handiness enabled photographers to capture people and scenes in their natural environment, without the need of having to purposefully set up the scene, as it was required with heavy camera gear from earlier times [9]. The creation of photojournalistic magazines in Germany supported the development of photojournalism.

Leica 35mm Camera

In comparison to the 1850s where photos were still only to highlight the written content, images became the most dominant part in stories, taking up large space, sometimes even forming the story itself [10] .

From the 1930s onwards, Photojournalism was further established through its expansion to the United States, where illustration focused magazines, such as Life was founded. During world war II, photojournalism enabled public access to realistic scenes of the war, and the lightweight Leica was still the mainly used camera among photojournalists. With its ability to portray scenes objectively yet into details, photojournalism soon became a political tool. President Roosevelt used it as a way to unravel issues within the country, such as social inequality to the general public, in order to support his policies[9].

The Library of Congress file card for Dorothea Lange’s 1936 photograph “Migrant Mother”

Photojournalism's increasing popularity resulted in a higher demand for illustrated magazines, which in turn enlarged the pool for professions in photography and media[11]. The establishment of international photojournalistic societies, such as Magnum Photos in the 1940s largely contributed to the independence of photojournalists and the discipline as a whole[12]. The Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange or the Dust Bowl by Arthur Rothstein are examples of photojournalistic images that had major influence in the 20th century[9].

History of the Discipline of Psychology edit

An innate consequence of human existence is the very human predisposition of curiosity, asking oneself questions of ones own existence. Amongst these questions, the subject of one's own mind and behaviour has evidenced to have been philosophised as far back as Ancient Greece. Amongst the first written psychological theories were those developed in Ancient Greece by Plato, his "Tripartite Theory of the Soul" and "Eros", and Artistotle's "De Anima" have had hugely influential roles on modern western psychology.[13] Later, in 6AD, China's Lin Xie developed what has been considered as the first psychological experiment marking the start of psychology as an experimental science, it involved measuring the participant's ability to multitask whereby asking the participant to draw a square with one hand whilst simultaneously drawing a circle with the other. [14]

However, it was only until the late 1800's that Psychology would be considered a discipline in its own rather than a sub-discipline of Philosophy; when in 1879 Wilhelm Wundt of Linzberg, Germany, opened the first laboratory to be exclusively used for psychological research. Wundt was also the first to refer to himself as a psychologist. [15] Two years later he founded Psychologische Studien, the first ever journal in psychology.[16]

The study of psychology migrated to the United States of America in the 1880's, where American psychologists reacted to, and countered, theories conceived in Germany. Eventually leading to what is now referred to as the forces or waves of psychology, marking the shifts of different schools or theories in psychological thought. Here, the American Psychological Association was founded on the 8th of July 1892, at Clark University in Massachusetts.[17] This is considered the oldest society in psychology, despite the foundation of the British Psychical Foundation in 1882, because it focuses on experimental psychology rather than the SPR's parapsychology. From the 1930's a third force was popularised, as a response to Freud's psychoanalysis and the American Behaviourism; known as humanistic psychology. [18] The third force veered toward an existential psychology, developing into concepts of logotherapy, positive psychology, spirituality, self-trancendence, self realization and mindfulness. [19] An important development in humanistic psychology was Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which has been used across disciplines, particularly in Business Management, to understand human motivation. [20]

A History of Psychology and other Disciplines edit

In the early 2000's Avshalom Caspi studies children's reactions to maltreatment and published the first evidence the genetics play a role in these reactions. [21] A year later, in 2003, the National Human Gene Project is finished by genetic researchers, the aim having been to decipher which chromosomes directly incur physiological or neurological conditions. [22]

In 2002, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Memorial Price in Economics based on his research into how humans make decisions or judgements when facing uncertain or new situations, this research was considered the basis for a new field of research; whereby discoveries of cognitive psychology are integrated into economic analyses. [23].

History of Social Anthropology edit

The term Social Anthropology designs a branch of Anthropology focused on the study of society and culture and how they develop and interact with each other. [24] Social anthropologists conduct their researches through fieldwork and comparisons. This discipline appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century in Britain. [25] Edward Burnett Tylor, teacher and scholar at Oxford University, is known to be the first to have produced Social Anthropological researches, meaning that he followed methods and focused on subjects that are now characteristic of Social Anthropology. [26] However, James George Frazer was the first to be named professor of Social Anthropology, in 1907, at Liverpool. [27] Hence, this can be considered as the beginning of social anthropology as an academic discipline. After the First World War, two main anthropologists have impacted Social Anthropology. Bronislaw Malinowski was at the head of a research seminar at the London School of Economics where the main ideas and methods of Social anthropology were studied.[28] Furthermore, Radcliff Brown wrote essays systemizing comparison and emphasizing the importance of analyzing social structures, and freeing social anthropology from its historical and psychological.[29] He is specifically known for his theory of functionalism. [30]

Social Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology edit

The History of social anthropology is closely linked with its American sister, cultural anthropology. In deed, the debate entertained by anthropologists to decide which discipline has the best method and focus lasts since the 1950s. [31] For example, George P. Murdock, criticized a publication of an edited collection on kinship in Africa in the American Anthropologist. He argued that Social Anthropology was too focused on Africa and issues that were too sociological. He believed that culture was an important factor which was excessively diminished in Social Anthropology. However, more recently, Social and Cultural Anthropology are being brought together. For instance, David Schneider, an American cultural anthropologists worked on problems usually treated by European social anthropology such as kinship. [32] The same tendance is observed in Great Britain where the Oxford Institute of Social Anthropology was given the name of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, in 1991. [33] Thus, both disciplines maintain important differences. [34]

History of Human Ecology edit

Human ecology is the study of how humans interact with their environments.[35] Much of the work in this discipline is interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary with aspects from biology, sociology, economics and geography integrated together to get a complete understanding of the impact people have on the ecosystems around them.

Perhaps the earliest examples of work in this field would be Carl Linneaus’ publication Specimen academicum de oeconomia naturae, where most of his understanding of the natural world is rooted by giving an importance to understanding economic, social and cultural interactions with the environment. His vision of science integrated these aspects in the study of biology and ecology which reflects much of the foundation and perspectives in human ecology.[36] The term “ Human Ecology”, however was coined by Ellen Swallow Richards - a chemist, engineer and the founder of Home Economics- in the year 1907.Here she assessed how human action was not separate but actually linked with the environment.[37] The establishment of this as a discipline in academia was by the University of Chicago by Robert E Park and Ernest Burgess from the department of Sociology in 1921. This was later built up on by Roderick D Mackenzie as a sub discipline in the school. [38]

Due to it’s interdisciplinary and trans disciplinary nature there is no evidence of a specific department of Human Ecology. Most of the classes under this branch are taught in departments like biology, sociology and geography. However, it is important to note the distinct nature of this discipline as it not only focuses on human’s impact on the biotic world but also how the physical environment affects human behavior.[39][40]There is much debate on what falls under human ecology and many argue that “geography” constitutes as human ecology. Similarly, there is reluctance from biologists to coalesce social science based research into their research. It is also interesting to note that the department of Anthropology at UCL has established the HERG (Human Ecology Research Group) [41]which attempts to study the biological and social aspects of the environment and bring them together to improve understanding and frame better solutions to tackle the various ecological issues.

History of Linguistics edit

The Tower of Babel which symbolises the multiplicity of languages

Linguistics is the study of human language from the perspective of its structure, function and development[9].

Over the years, many subfields of linguistics have evolved, which have caused it to become an interdisciplinary field of study. For instance, Sociolinguistics is a branch of linguistics involved in understanding how languages are used in society or in the world. It examines how language is used in society, and historical linguistics studies how languages change over time. Moreover, profound links between language studies and both Psychology and Philosophy have been observed, and many claim that Linguistics as a discipline has its origins in another, much older field of study - Philosophy. These two fields have developed simultaneously while interacting greatly with each other. [42]

Before linguistics as an independent discipline with a specific object, purpose and methods emerged, the history of human thought recorded a rich and lasting heritage in this field. The philosophical interest in language as the basic key to learning about forms and mechanisms of reflection of the extra-linguistic reality in human consciousness has resulted in an inquiry into the relation between linguistic expressions and elements of reality. The first philosopher to study the nature of language was Plato. In one of his works, Cratylus, Plato claims that words represent eternal concepts existing in the world of ideas.[43] Philosophy of Language became a separate strand of philosophy and was deeply examined by modern philosophers.

Ideas and concepts in language studies and philosophy of language emerged from the same thought what makes both disciplines correspond with each other, however Linguistics began to evolve independently. According to the most widespread view, the history of linguistics began in India. The country was dominated by an empirical descriptive tradition, i.e. one that emphasised the description of specific language facts. Linguistics appeared in the first millennium BCE as a response to a specific need - to translate ancient religious texts contained in the books of knowledge, called Vedas. Some of these texts date back to the 15th century BCE. The precursor of Language studies is considered to be Pāṇini, the 5th century BC grammarian who wrote about the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit grammar.[9] In the Middle Ages, Latin was the language of interest, and the achievements of the Ancient Age were continued and expanded. Throughout this period, language studies were comprised of philology and the study of ancient languages and texts. The study of modern languages did not become part of the curriculum of European schools until the 18th century and at the beginning was based mostly on teaching Latin. [44]

Notes edit

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  3. Freemantle M. C&EN: COVER STORY - CAMBRIDGE MARKS 300 YEARS OF CHEMISTRY [Internet]. 2002 [cited 16 October 2020]. Available from:
  4. Clericuzio A. Vigani, John Francis [formerly Giovanni Francesco Vigani]. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [Internet]. 2016 [cited 5 November 2020];. Available from:;jsessionid=19286295284DBC7F354500277DDA586D
  5. Our origins [Internet]. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2020 [cited 16 October 2020]. Available from:
  6. Tate - Art Term. Photojournalism. [Internet]. 2017 [cited 16 October 2020]. Available from:
  7. Collins R. A Brief History of Photography and Photojournalism [Internet]. North Dakota State University [cited 16 October 2020]. Available from:
  8. Kelly C. “Behind the Lens of Photojournalism: A History,” Portland Center Stage: PCS Blog, 2012. Available from:
  9. a b c d e "Linguistics". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-11-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. Collins R. A Brief History of Photography and Photojournalism [Internet]. North Dakota State University [cited 16 October 2020]. Available from:
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  12. Tate. MAGNUM PHOTOS - Art Term [Internet]. [cited 16 October 2020]. Available from:
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  14. Higgins, Louise T. and Zheng Mo "An Introduction to Chinese Psychology--Its Historical Roots until the Present Day" Archived 2014-01-22 at, The Journal of Psychology Vol. 136, No. 2, March 2002, pp. 225-39.
  15. Schwarz, K. A.; Pfister, R. (2016). "Scientific psychology in the 18th century: a historical rediscovery". Perspectives on Psychological Science. 11 (3): 399–407. doi:10.1177/1745691616635601. PMID 27217252.
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  17. APA Timeline [Internet]. 2020 [cited 5 November 2020]. Available from:
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  19. Friedman, Harris L.; Hartelius, Glenn (2015). The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology. Wiley Blackwell.
  20. Maslow, Abraham H. 1970. Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row.
  21. Caspi A, McClay JL, Mill J, et al. Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children. Science. 2002;297(5582):851-854. doi:10.1126/science.1072290
  22. BETHESDA. “International Consortium Completes Human Genome Project,” April 14, 2003.
  23. Nobel Media AB 2020. (retrieved October 18, 2020).
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  26. Price Megan et al. , Taylor's Bigraphy, 2013 . Available from
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  32. Janet Carsten et al., Kinship terminlogy, Culturalist Accounts, 1998-2012 available from
  33. Eric A. Smith et al. Anthropology , Social Anthropology, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1998-2020. Available from
  34. Eric A. Smith et al. Anthropology , Social Anthropology, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1998-2020. Available from
  35. Human Ecology | book by Hawley [Internet]. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2020 [cited 9 November 2020]. Available from:
  36. Young G. Human Ecology as an Interdisciplinary Concept: A Critical Inquiry. Advances in Ecological Research Volume 8. 1974;:1-105.
  37. Merchant, C. (2007). American Environmental History: An Introduction. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0231140355.
  38. MacDonald, Dennis W. (2011). "Beyond the Group: The Implications of Roderick D. McKenzie's Human Ecology for Reconceptualizing Society and the Social". Nature and Culture. 6 (3): 263–284. doi:10.3167/nc.2011.060304.
  39. Gross, M. 2004. "Human Geography and Ecological Sociology: The Unfolding of a Human Ecology, 1890 to 1930 – and Beyond," Social Science History 28(4): 575-605.
  40. Young G. Human Ecology as an Interdisciplinary Concept: A Critical Inquiry. Advances in Ecological Research Volume 8. 1974;:1-105.
  41. Human Ecology Research Group (HERG) [Internet]. UCL Anthropology. 2020 [cited 9 November 2020]. Available from:
  42. Robins, R. H. (1990). A short history of linguistics (3rd ed.). London: Longman. ISBN 1317891112.
  43. ""Linguistics," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2009".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  44. Coleman, James A. "Modern Languages in British Universities: Past and present". Sage Journals.