Wallstein Verlag

Ursula Klein

Useful Knowledge

The Beginnings of Technical Sciences

216 pages, 12,5 x 21,0
ISBN: 978-3-8353-1958-5 (2016)


German Version

The figure of the hybrid expert and the »useful sciences« as early forms of engineering science.

The insights and innovations of modern engineering and technical sciences – from the car to the internet - have permeated to the depths of our everyday lives. The sciences, industry and the military have united to form a complex of »technosciences« that are constantly in search of innovation and growth.
But do the origins of these developments really lie in the industrial boom of late Modernity? Ursula Klein’s compact book questions this widespread image and follows the discourse on useful knowledge to as far back as the 18th century, where she locates the origins of technical sciences. The scientific technical experts of the time were hybrid figures, somewhere between intellectual scholars and traditional craftsmen, and as such they held crucial responsibility for the production of useful knowledge. They were involved in the foundation of mining, building and forestry academies, and introduced the »useful sciences«, a new type of scientific concept that paved the way for modern technical science.

Ursula Klein is a senior research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and a professor (apl.) at the University of Constance. Publications include: Humboldts Preußen: Wissenschaft und Technik im Aufbruch (Humboldt’s Prussia: Science and Technology on the Upswing, co-ed., 2015); Materials in Eighteenth-Century Science. A Historical Ontology (2007); Experiments, Models, Paper Tools (2003).
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