Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM
EXPLORING EARLY GEOLOGY'S DEVELOPMENT THROUGH BIOGRAPHY: THE CASE OF FRANCE IN THE LATE 18TH CENTURY
Biographical studies are especially useful in efforts at historical reconstruction of the period during which geology began to emerge as a recognized scientific enterprise. In this paper I try to illustrate this contention through examples within the community of French-speaking scientists during the closing decades of the 18th century. I perceive members of this community as seeking answers simultaneously to questions about definition, investigative procedure, and explanatory form: that is, about how to identify the objects belonging rightfully to their geological study, how to assemble information about these objects, and how to account for them. Historical inquiry into the lives and careers of these individuals which is to say, examining their biographies is an important and sometimes essential way of finding out what they were trying to do.