Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM


TAYLOR, Kenneth L., History of Science, University of Oklahoma, 601 Elm Street, Room 625, Norman, OK 73019,

Voyages dans les Alpes (4 vols., 1779–1796) was the masterwork of the Genevese savant Horace-Bénédict de Saussure (1740–1799). It was one of the most highly-respected geoscientific works of the late 18th century, exemplary of a genre that had great prestige in its time, as an account of travels carried out systematically for scientific purposes. Its author was revered as a sedulous observer constantly searching for valuable facts that could be turned to use in generating, finally, a satisfactory Theory of the Earth. As a pioneer in Alpine exploration, Saussure was widely thought to be looking in the right places, since the phenomena of mountains were commonly seen as especially conducive to insight regarding the Earth’s structure and formative processes. Saussure’s stature was not diminished, in the eyes of most readers, by his caution in drawing general conclusions. Rather, many considered his circumspection to be a great methodological virtue.