Synopses & Reviews
"Each chapter makes an original contribution to our understanding of the nature and diversity of the discourse of science." --Carolyn R. Miller, Isis
"Montgomery writes to a general, educated audience, in an intelligible but decidedly 'literary' tone that expresses ideas in eloquent turns of phrase... Perhaps if more scientists today were, like Montgomery, able to transfer their observational abilities to the examination of their own texts, if more were interested in recognizing the social components of their discourse rather than in attacking those who suggest that science has a rhetorical element, if more were willing to write books like The Scientific Voice, perhaps then we would have a return of the eloquent science writer Montgomery portrays. This book is a big step in that direction." --Leah Ceccareo, University of Washington, Technical Communication Quarterly
"Recommended for general readers, lower-division undergraduates, and faculty." --Choice
"Montgomery is fascinated with scientific language, how it is born, how it grows, how it is transformed and how it is sometimes stultified. His interest is not an academically driven exercise but springs from an infectious desire to know how science works....Montgomery offers a survey of the field of scientific illustrations and the ways in which they have been read, not only in terms of their iconography and pictorial effect, but also as embodiments of changing ideologies and shifting epistemologies. The 'rhetoric' of imagery is fraught with internal contradictions, competing messages and the chance that the visual representation may be perceived in new ways not intended by its maker....Montgomery combines sound scholarship with a sense of humor, which occasionally becomes a sense of urgency when experiments with language get out of hand and acquire a canonical status they do not deserve. This book will be read with enjoyment by all those who suspect that the truths of the present are often the metaphors of the past." --Nature
"This is an exciting and imaginative book. Montgomery treats a number of areas that are not well covered in the history of science literature and makes thoughtful contributions to these areas. His scholarship is wide-ranging and his insights are often important, always surprising. I recommend this book highly." --Albert Van Helden, Professor of History, Rice University
"Montgomery has performed a renaissance-like job in showing the language-bound commonalities between the natural sciences and psychoanalysis. His chapter on Freud opens new and promising areas for future exploration." --Martin Schulman, Editor, Psychoanalytic Review
"What seems to me most valuable about the book is its historically-informed explication of the different writing styles. Rather than just look at particular textual strategies, etc., work is considered in the context of broader socio-cultural movements and issues. It brings a sense of depth that is lacking works that are confines to one period or set of texts...This book should be appealing for textbook use in departments of English, Rhetoric, and Communication, where, in all three cases, there is growing interest in the rhetoric of science....Readily useful for teaching....Well written, meaty, and solid in its scholarship." --John Lyne, University of Iowa
"Readily useful for teaching. The chapters can be taken independently or assigned in different order. It can function either as a 'core' text, or as a supplement. I like the book a great deal. It is well written, meaty, and solid in its scholarship." --John Lyne, Ph.D., Professor of Communication Studies, University of Iowa
Tracing the language of science through time and across cultures, Scott Montgomery examines its character, evolution, and cultural origins, and shows the profound influence language has had on scientific thought, discovery, and progress. Drawing on examples from a range of sciences, he shows how the choice of language and metaphors leads to different scientific insights. This process is illustrated through discussions of military metaphors in biomedical writings, a comparison between Japanese and English science, and a fascinating examination of the English translation of Freud's work and how it compares to the original German edition.
Scientific thought is inherently shaped by language, and language is shaped by the culture that has produced it. It can be said that the history of science is as much a history of writers as it is of texts. This book traces scientific discourse through time and across cultures\m-\examining its character, evolution, and cultural origins\m-\to demonstrate the profound influence of language on scientific thought, discovery, and progress throughout history.
Drawing on examples from such disciplines as biology, psychology, astronomy, and sociology, Montgomery shows how the choice of language and the metaphors used can lead to different scientific insights. For example, the use of military metaphors in biomedicine\m-\diseases "strike" and "attack," illnesses "invade" and "spread," our bodies' "defenses" "battle" to "defeat" infections\m-\provides a war-like atmosphere that has profound implications on the way disease is understood and on the institutions that are created to deal with them.
Examining the effects of translation on science and the influences of culture, Montgomery demonstrates the alteration of ideas across languages by comparing the English translation of Freud to the original German edition. He also provides a compelling look at the development of scientific language in Japan, where modern scientific discourse was born relatively late, and examines the different western influences that are evident in the terminology.
About the Author
Scott L. Montgomery is a geologist, writer, and translator currently residing in Seattle, Washington. Author of Minds for the Making, he has written widely in the areas of science, culture, and language studies and has published essays in many journals, including Science as Culture, The Georgia Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Central Park.
Table of Contents
1. The Cult of Jargon: Reflections on Language in Science
2. In Equal Number of Words: Notes for a History of Scientific Discourse
3. Illness and Image: An Essay on the Contents of Biomedical Discourse
4. Expanding the Earth: Seeing and Naming the Skies The Case of the Moon
5. Science by any Other Means: Japanese Science and the Politics of Translation
6. A Case of (Mis)Taken Identity: The Question of Freudian Discourse