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11 - The development of specialized discourse in the Philosophical Transactions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2011

Maurizio Gotti
Affiliation:
University of Bergamo
Irma Taavitsainen
Affiliation:
University of Helsinki
Päivi Pahta
Affiliation:
University of Tampere, Finland
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Summary

Introduction

An important milestone in the history of English scientific and medical writing is the foundation of the Royal Society, ‘the institutional embodiment of the new science’ (M. Hunter 1981: 48), which took place in 1662, after a period in which its members had met in an informal manner (Hartley 1960). In their preliminary meeting on 28 November 1660, the founders of the Royal Society determined that the purpose of their gathering was ‘a designe of founding a Colledge for the promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning’ (quoted in Hall 1991: 9) and chose the phrase Nullius in verba (‘On the words of no one’) as their motto. These new researchers were convinced that many natural philosophers in the past had been anxious to provide explanations and theories before having enough evidence on which to base them and emphasized therefore the need for an experimental approach so as to collect abundant data from which correct generalizations could be derived.

On 6 March 1665, the first issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (henceforth PT) was published, evolving from the communal correspondence which was common among its members (Gotti 2006a). As the practice of exchanging information by means of correspondence through unofficial networks was proving more and more difficult to carry out, due to the increasing number of specialists and research groups working in the field, it was decided to create a new journal devoted to specialized matters and mainly addressed to those really interested in them, imitating the French scientific periodical Le Journal des Sçavants, which had appeared on 5 January 1665 under the editorship of Denis de Sallo de la Coudraye.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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