The Competitiveness of Nations

in a Global Knowledge-Based Economy

March 2004

AAP Homepage

Robert Wuthnow *

The Emergence of Modern Science and World System Theory

Theory and Society

Vol. 8, No. 2, Sep., 1979, 215-243.



The European World-Economy and Scientific Autonomy

The State, Legitimacy, and Patronage

Science as Ceremonial Activity

Effects on the Development of Science



Viewing the modern world as a single system of interdependent economic and political units rather than as isolated societies poses new possibilities, not only for the analysis of these units themselves, but for social and cultural developments such as the origin and evolution of modern science.  It is generally conceded that the growth of modern science had been facilitated by various social conditions.  Yet efforts to identify these and to specify their effects have met with only limited success, inducing most historians of science to emphasize the internal intellectual unfolding of scientific thought, rather than the effects of external social factors. [1]  Recent work on the history of the European world-economy, however, provides new opportunities to refocus the analysis of the relations between social conditions and the rise of modern science.

The two leading approaches to the problem, the so-called Merton thesis and the Marxian approach represented by Hessen and Zilsel, have both tended to focus on individual societies as the ultimate contexts in which to examine the origins of science. [2]  Seventeenth-century England in particular has served as the primary case for these inquiries.  Merton thus developed a theory which emphasizes religious ideas (Puritanism) that became fully articulated primarily in England.  The explanatory power of this theory even in the English context has been seriously questioned. [3]  But whether the theory holds for England or not, it falls short of providing a general explanation capable of accounting for the prominence of Italian science in the early seventeenth century, or for the parallel development of science in later seventeenth century France.  The Marxist approach, emphasizing the influences of technological needs and bourgeois values, has not been as limited to the English case as Merton’s.  Yet England also clearly served as its chief example and most of the argument has been framed in terms of local and direct influences between technological problems, artisans, and scientists. [4]  As a general explanation, the Marxist

* Department of Sociology, Princeton University.

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approach has served as a useful orienting perspective but falters when it comes to specific problems, such as the absence of commercial effects on science in Spain and Portugal or the differences between English and Dutch science.

The chief problem with approaches that focus on single societies in attempting to account for the rise of modern science, of course, is that the rise of modern science was European-wide in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  This should suggest the international or comparative approach taken by some historians. But science was not merely international; it was also transnational.  The outlook and interests of scientists were cosmopolitan and transcended societal boundaries. [5]  Many of the leading scientists, especially those from Western and Northern Europe, had been educated abroad (particularly in Italian universities) or had traveled widely during their education.  Many were emigrants or exiles from war or unfavorable economic conditions or were temporary employees in countries other than those of birth. [6]  From the end of the sixteenth century onward there were extensive communication networks among scientists and the leading scientific academies made it a policy to encourage foreign memberships. [7]  If the social conditions affecting seventeenth-century science are to be understood, therefore, a perspective which views the European setting as a single social system affords an appropriate vantage point.  The problem, then, is to examine the character of early modern science from this perspective in order to identify the specific effects of the social structure, not of this or that nation, but of the European world-economy.

I shall argue that the important structural feature of the European world-economy as far as the institutionalization of seventeenth-century science is concerned is its decentralized, multicentric (or what Immanuel Wallerstein has called “multipyramidal”) political structure. [8]  In Wallerstein’s view this is the essential characteristic that distinguished the European world-economy from historic empires and permitted the unique development of modern capitalism. [9]  That Europe failed to be unified under the Hapsburg dynasty, but emerged as a system of economically interdependent states each claiming sovereignty over its own territory, appears no less important for the development of modern science.  This can be seen most clearly by examining the political autonomy and political patronage among seventeenth-century scientists.  This will also illuminate a variety of indirect effects of the European world-economy on the institutionalization of science and will indicate some of the general functions that science, in turn, fulfilled in the European state system.



The European World-Economy and Scientific Autonomy

The importance of autonomy to engage in critical reflection, to advance and test its own paradigms, to allocate rewards on the basis of professionally evaluated performance, and to develop and maintain open internal communication has been emphasized as one of the conditions essential to the sustained development of modern science. [10]  Scientific autonomy is above all autonomy from the government or other authoritative bodies capable of arbitrarily restricting the freedom of scientific inquiry.  Yet autonomy does not imply complete independence or isolation from government, for the protection and patronage of government has also been important to the development of science.  Scientific autonomy, therefore, implies a special kind of relation in which government and science interact for mutual gain, but where checks are present to limit the arbitrary extension of government control over science.

From the standpoint of individual societies, it is difficult to understand how science could have flourished as it did during the age of absolutism and oligarchy, given its need for political autonomy.  From the perspective of the larger European system, however, the presence of multiple centers of power in the form of competing sovereign states helped to provide precisely the kind of freedom from arbitrary government intrusion that was needed for science to develop.  The effects of political multicentricity can be seen particularly in the freedom it provided for escaping unfavorable political conditions and in the extent to which it was used by scientists as a means of leverage in relation to their own governments.

One of the striking features about scientists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is the degree to which they were able to escape unfavorable political climates simply by migrating to a different political jurisdiction.  Kepler was persecuted in Tübingen but escaped to Austria.  Descartes voluntarily exiled himself from France allegedly in part because of his disenchantment with political conditions there.  During the l630s large numbers of students from England went to Leyden to study in order to escape the political turmoil in England. [11]  The entire group of scientists gathered around the Duke of Northumberland, and who later became instrumental in the formation of the “invisible college,” fled England during the revolutionary period and received patronage in France.[12]  Newton’s mentor, Isaac Barrow, who was a firm supporter of the king for which he felt certain to be denied the Regius Professor of Greek during the Cromwellian period, spent four years touring the Continent and returned to England with the Restoration of Charles II.  Joseph Priestly fled to America avowedly because of his political views.  In the six.

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teenth century the scientific movement in Flanders was able to survive by fleeing north. [13]  And these examples could be multiplied ten-fold.  The obvious but not trivial point is that such avenues of freedom would have not been so readily available had Europe been unified under a single regime.

On a smaller scale the same situation can be observed in the Italian city-state system.  One illustration of the importance of decentralization there is provided by an incident early in the career of Galileo. [14]  His criticisms of an invention proposed by a member of the Medici family temporarily had placed him in disfavor with the Grand Duke of Tuscany who controlled his appointment at the University of Pisa.  Fearing for his appointment, Galileo turned to the Venetian Republic where he obtained an appointment at the University of Padua, thereby avoiding an early termination of his career.  Borelli provides a similar example.  After an uprising in Messina he was accused of sedition.  Rather than stand trial, however, he took refuge in Rome where he was received into the Academy of Queen Christina of Sweden who was residing there.

In addition to providing autonomy from unfavorable political circumstances, the decentralized European political structure also provided opportunities that scientists could use to improve their livelihoods and working conditions. [15]  This seems especially evident among the more prominent scientists.  Vesalius’ skills as a physician, for example, placed him in demand by a number of courts, as did William Harvey’s.  Huygens migrated to France where he received a handsome stipend.  France, in general, seems to have been fairly successful at luring scientists with its royal stipends. [16]  The Dutch were also successful, offering high university salaries as an incentive to foreign scientists. [17]  And England drew a number of immigrants partly through patronage but perhaps more importantly because of its reputation of royal favor toward science. [18]

The importance of political decentralization for the autonomy of science can also be illustrated by examining the effects of its absence in the Hapsburg empire during the same period.  At the outset of the seventeenth century, Castile was the most educated society in Western Europe; yet it failed to develop scientifically.  Richard Kagan has concluded from his extensive research on the universities of Castile that the major cause of this failure was not so much Catholicism, as frequently alleged (though this may have been a factor), but the degree to which the government interfered with the selection of instructors, curricula, the career choices of students, and academic standards. [19]

The fact is, of course, that scholars have gained autonomy from even the most


politically centralized empires by emigrating from them.  If the analogy is drawn between empires and world-economies, however, the essential difference between the two as far as science is concerned is that in centralized empires restrictions on intellectual autonomy can be escaped only by leaving the entire social system, while in decentralized world-economies such restrictions can be escaped by migrating from one jurisdiction to another within the system.  The importance of remaining within the system is that communication tends to be maintained with scholars in other parts of the system as long as the system is tied together in interdependence, trade, and diplomatic relations.  In contrast, to leave the entire system greatly reduces the chances of maintaining routine communication with others remaining in the system.

The extent to which the decentralized character of the European world-economy contributed to the autonomy of scientists should not be overemphasized, however.  At most, autonomy represents a minimum or passive contribution to the general growth of science in the seventeenth century.  The institutionalization of science appears to have been facilitated much more actively and directly by other social conditions, including some that were also influenced by the structure of the world-economy.  Moreover, the high degree of political autonomy that scientists enjoyed can only partly be understood with reference to political decentralization.  Even if the presence of competing states provided a potential source of leverage against restrictive social conditions, the question still remains as to why that leverage was allowed to be deployed to the extent that it was.  The role of autonomy, therefore, goes only part way in explicating the effects of the world-economy on the institutionalization of science.


The State, Legitimacy, and Patronage

An examination of direct and indirect political patronage to the sciences goes further toward affording an understanding of the role played by the social structure of the world-economy in the development of science.  In virtually every country scientists received financial assistance from rich and powerful people.  Tycho Brahe received assistance from Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II.  Kepler’s observatory was built at the expense of the King of Denmark.  Galileo received advances from the Medici and from the Florentine firm Giucciardi Corsi. [20]  Benedetti, who was known primarily for his work in mathematics and physics, served as court mathematician to the Duke of Farnese in Parma and received financial support from the Duke of Savoy.  Bonaventura was supported by the Duke of Urbino.  In Italy the most consistent supporters of scientists were Ferdinand II, Grand Duke of Tuscany and his brother Prince Leopold, founders of the Accademia del Cimento. [21]  In France the Academy

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of Sciences provided royal pensions of 1,500 livres annually for fourteen scientists in addition to which a number received patronage from private sources. [22]  In England similar sources of support were provided by a variety of private individuals. [23]

Patronage was also bestowed indirectly in the form of public offices.  In France these included the office of tax collector (occupied by Lavosier), treasurer (occupied by Montigny), post-master general (occupied by d’Onsenbray), director of the Royal Observatory, and numerous court physicians, apothecaries, surgeons, and tutors.  Similarly, government positions in England were occupied by a number of the more prominent scientists, including Gilbert, Wilkins, Bacon, Brouncker, and Newton.  One estimate has suggested that nearly one-third of the original members of the Royal Society were “high servants of the Crown and State officials.” [24]

A number of the nobility and officers of the state also took a personal interest in scientific experimentation.  Rudolf II amassed a rich collection of scientific and artistic curiosities at his court in Prague. [25]  Charles II had his own chemistry laboratory as did Louis XIV’s brother, the Duc d’Orleans. [26]  Prince Rupert, according to his biographer, had an “inexhaustible interest in forge and laboratory.”  The ninth Earl of Northumberland earned the appellation “wizard of earl” for his experiments in anatomy, alchemy, and cosmography. [27]  Other amateur scientists in England, who either had their own laboratories or took an active role in experimentation, included the Earl of Cork, the Duke and Duchess of York, the Bishop of London, the second Earl of Cumberland, fifth Lord Dudley, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Willoughby, Sir Robert Moray, and Sir Robert Hale. [28]  In Italy Ferdinand II and Prince Leopold were not only patrons but active experimenters as well, as was Count Federigo Cesi, founder of the Accademia del Lincei, and a number of other Italian notables. [29]  Members of both the Medici and the Fugger families dabbled in science.  Amateur scientists in Germany included the Duke of Magdeburg, Tschirnhausen, Hevelius, and Otto von Guericke.  To the extent that scientists received patronage from persons of power, therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that this patronage was typically given out of genuine interest in, and with some knowledge of, the nature and purposes of science.

In total amounts the patronage that scientists received was seldom a major expense to its benefactors.  For example, in France where stipends were perhaps more generous than anywhere else the total amount of pensions to scientists added up to approximately 30,000 livres a year during the l670s and for the twenty-five year period from 1664 to 1690 totalled 1.7 million livres plus another 0.7 million livres if the cost of the royal observatory is


included. [30]  Yet during this period government receipts from the taille alone amounted to between 40 million and 50 million livres annually. [31]  Thus, the amount given over to scientific activities represented only a tiny fraction of the state’s finances.  However, this financial support was of considerable value to those receiving it, making it possible to devote time to experimentation that would otherwise probably have been spent in more gainful activities, and providing instruments for the conduct of these experiments.  The importance of obtaining financial assistance was often evident in the activities of even the leading scientists.  As Roger Hahn explains, “The financial problem became the central issue in the soliciting of governmental assistance by the more dedicated members of the learned circles.  On one level, their needs stemmed from the cost of constructing improved instruments (especially the expensive ones for astronomical observations) and of purchasing raw materials to carry on chemical and biological experiments.  Without substantial sums, it was also impossible to initiate large-scale enterprises such as scientific expeditions.” [32]

But why was patronage given to the sciences?  In answering this question, it must be kept in mind that science was not the only cultural activity to receive support.  Considerable patronage was also given to the arts. [33]  It is easy to overestimate the importance of science since science has come to occupy such a central position in modern culture.  But in the seventeenth century science and art were not yet clearly differentiated.  Similar kinds of innovations were being made in both, as artists began discovering the natural world and started capturing it on canvas and in sculpture. [34]  To a certain degree, therefore, the patronage that scientists received was merely one form of patronage given more generally to learning and to the arts.  The state was patron to all, as is evident in the variety of academies that were founded and supported. [35]  And the advances that were recorded in the sciences were paralleled by similar advances in music, painting, and dance. [36]

Keeping in mind the fact that science was not alone in its receipt of patronage, however, it is still important to know why science was included at all in this patronage.  Here it becomes necessary to confront the answer that has been suggested by both Merton and the Marxist approach, namely, that science was of technological value and, therefore, was supported on utilitarian grounds.  There is certainly anecdotal evidence in favor of this argument.  According to G. N. Clark, “Among the noblemen and gentlemen who were conspicuous as scientific dilettanti at this time, it is easy to see that the excitement of study was mixed with the hope of gain.” [37]  Bacon’s utilitarian defense of science clearly seems to have been appealing.  Charles II repeatedly admonished the Royal Society to study things that were useful.  Colbert’s interest in science rested heavily on utilitarian considerations.  In short, the belief that science

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was of practical value undoubtedly reinforced official interest in it.  But, given the available evidence about the relative disinterest in practical problems on the part of many scientists and the relative lack of success they had in solving these problems (especially in comparison with the inventions that were being made by craftsmen and artisans), it is difficult to account for the sustained patronage of young sciences on utilitarian grounds alone.  In other words, an explanation is needed for the discrepancy between the faith that was invested in science and the actual ability of science to perform in keeping with these expectations.

Moreover, if utilitarian considerations were the only motive for supporting science, and if it was really believed that science was of great practical value, then it is also curious that science was not supported more than it was - that Charles II, for example, should have been content to charter the Royal Society but give it no financial assistance, or that Colbert did not expand the scope of his interests in science.

Another curious aspect of the state’s relation to science from the standpoint of the utilitarian explanation concerns the membership of the scientific academies.  If utilitarian interests were the prime concern of those who founded and sponsored the scientific academies, and if the skills of artisans were as important as this explanation has generally assumed, then it should be expected that artisans and others of practical interests would have been well represented in the membership of the scientific academies.  But accounts of the academies provide a rather different view, as illustrated by Hahn’s description of the Academy of Sciences:

Among them were men of considerable cultural attainments and erudition, such as Pierre Carcavi and Christiaan Huygens, the polymath Mann Cureau de La Chambre, the Oratorian theologian Jean-Baptiste Du Hamel, the magistrate Bernard Frenicle de Bessy, and Charles Perrault’s equally famous brother, the architect and physician Claude Perrault.  Though many were intimately concerned with the practical applications of scientific studies, none was selected for his technical prowess alone...  A tacit understanding almost seems to have existed that a sound liberal education rather than apprenticeship in a trade was a proper qualification for admission.  Hence, from the outset, there was a certain social and intellectual bond in the Royal Academy which ran counter to the hopes of the framers of the Company.  Artisans were clearly excluded. [38]

From this description it seems that men were chosen not so much because they were skilled artisans or persons who made utilitarian contributions but


because they had gained some reputation for erudition.  The same appears to have been true of the Royal Society, according to Maurice Ashley’s account:

One is particularly struck by the versatility of the members of the Royal Society.  They included John Aubrey, the author of the Brief Lives of his contemporaries,... John Evelyn, botanist and numismatist, and Samuel Pepys, the naval administrator,… John Locke, metaphysician, educationist, political philosopher, theologian, physician, and man of affairs; Sir William Petty, who contends with Captain John Graunt for the distinction of being the first English statistician or “political anithmetician”; Dr John Wallis, who wrote books on arithmetic as well as English grammar; John Dryden, the poet; Wren, the architect; Dr John Williamson, the politician; the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Sandwich; Sir Kenelm Digby, the Roman Catholic, who collected book bindings and invented the “powder of sympathy” to heal wounds; and even the Moroccan ambassador who was admitted as an honorary member.  Besides them stood scientists whose names are still universally honoured: Robert Boyle, the “father of modern chemistry” and inventor of “Boyle’s law”; Isaac Barrow, the mathematician and clergyman; Robert Hooke, city surveyor, mathematician, physicist, and a great inventive genius; and Jonathan Goddard, one of the first English makers of telescopes. [39]

Certainly this was a distinguished group, but hardly one restricted to experimental scientists, practical minds, or notable for its inclusion of artisans.  In explaining the patronage and recognition that the academies received, therefore, attention also needs to be given to the nonutilitanian reasons for their peculiar memberships.

What these considerations point to is that the support of science and of the scientific academies is not understandable on utilitarian grounds alone.  Although the utilitarian explanation clearly sheds some light on the problem, it fails to account for the broader support that was given to the arts; it makes sense only to a limited degree in the face of the relative lack of practical contributions made by scientists; and it does not square with the actual memberships of the scientific academies.  Apart from its utilitarian role, the indication is that science also played a nonutilitarian, symbolic, or ceremonial role.  To understand this role it is necessary to examine briefly the nature of legitimate authority as it existed in the European world-system.  As with the discussion of scientific autonomy, decentralization was a decisive factor.

By the end of the sixteenth century the reality that Europe could not be politically unified but would consist of a system of multiple, competing

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powers had become increasingly apparent to contemporary statesmen.  Ideologically, Protestantism had gained a firm hold in Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and England, sufficient to destroy hopes of religious reunification.  Militarily, the Spanish armada had been defeated, the Netherlands were on the verge of gaining a truce with Spain, and France had maintained its independence against the Hapsburgs.  Moreover, the decentralized authority structure of the European system had begun to be regarded as normative.  In political theory, the doctrine of balance or equilibrium rather than unification had ascended. [40]  The argument was that interdependence among the European powers was inevitable since the different states were endowed with different abilities, climates, and resources.  Given the inevitability of interdependence, the important problem, therefore, was to maintain a balance of power among the major contending states sufficient to ensure the steady flow of exchange without any one state gaining hegemony over the others.

In keeping with the political doctrine of equilibrium, the economic theory that later became known by its critics as mercantilism stressed the necessity of each state cultivating its unique resources and developing its full potential strength as a prerequisite to the common good. [41]  An important assumption in this theory was that the European states, though interdependent, were in what would now be called a zero-sum game in which one could gain only at the expense of another or, in Francis Bacon’s words, “whatsoever is somewhere gotten, is somewhere lost.” [42]  The failure of any one state to maintain its strength, therefore, could result in unwarranted gains on the part of another, leading ultimately to a perilous destruction of the precarious European equilibrium.  In short, a strong corporate state capable of nourishing and coordinating its domestic resources was considered necessary for both domestic security and international well-being.  “The state as an entity,” writes James E. King, “was endowed with a kind of synthetic intelligence far superior to the feeble capacities of individuals.” [43]  And as long as it was able to demonstrate its wisdom and strength in relation to its competitors, the activities of the state would be deemed legitimate.

The political situation that developed in the seventeenth century, therefore, (though relatively distinct at that time) resembled in many respects that in the contemporary world, especially in the importance attached to the power of competing states and in the degree to which this power was evaluated less in terms of control over subject populations than in comparison with other states occupying similar positions in the world-system.  The importance that became attached to dramatizing the strength and prestige of states in the seventeenth century was magnified, however, by the precariousness that still characterized the identities and boundaries of states in that period.  The


Reformation and the ensueing century of religious wars constituted a collective shock to the normative order of the European system.” [44]  Even by the middle of the seventeenth century the new mercantilist system and the relative identities of states within that system were only beginning to take unambiguous shape. [45]

Failing the presence of a central authority capable of defining and legitimating membership in the European system, ceremonial activities came to serve as a functional means of dramatizing the strength and identity of states to one another, of demonstrating each state’s ability to maintain and defend its position in the European system, and of manifesting each state’s subscription to norms and expectations common to members of the system.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the seventeenth century has been characterized as the great age of ceremony.  In the arts, in architecture, and in learning, it is the age of the baroque, of Versailles, of the richly embellished facade and the ornamental garden, the heroic tragedy, great operas and orchestras, punctilious court etiquette, the King James Bible, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.  The seventeenth century is also the age of great ceremony and protocol in diplomatic relations. [46]  And it is the age of what G. N. Clark has called “speculative wars” which dramatized state boundaries by testing the military strength of opposing forces. [47]

Although these ceremonial activities fulfilled a variety of social functions, including the reaffirmation of domestic loyalties to the state, the formal similarities that became evident, especially in the ceremonial activities of England and France and to a lesser extent Italy, Holland, and Prussia, suggest that part of their function was to dramatize certain common characteristics of each state to its competitors.  Through its ceremonial activities each state dramatized that it was capable of protecting its people and territory and of defending its corporate identity and honor, that it was organized rationally and therefore was likely to behave predictably as evidenced by its conduct of international diplomacy and its commitment to learning and planning, and that it was capable of contributing to the general welfare by nurturing its unique resources and talents - in short, that it was a legitimate member of the European system. [48]


Science as Ceremonial Activity

A number of the distinctive characteristics of seventeenth-century science suited it well for inclusion among ceremonial activities of the kind just described.  First, as a cosmopolitan enterprise dependent on the diverse contributions of scattered members, science afforded a symbol in microcosm of

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the diplomatic and commercial interdependence of the European states.  “Commerce,” one observer wrote in 1646, “is no less necessary and favorable to the diffusion of the arts and sciences.  Each climate receives its particular influences; these influences communicate divers qualities, and the qualities create divers talents of the mind, and by consequence divers kinds of sciences and industries among men.  Some are suited for Philosophy, others for mechanics, others to some arts and particular exercises: the Author of nature distributing thus unequally his gifts and his talents to men, in order to render them reliant on one another, and to oblige them to share what they have in particular.” [49]  The fact that scientists did exchange information from which all benefited - that Kepler, Copernicus, Gilbert, Galileo, Descartes, among others, had contributed to and benefited from the work of others - served as a case in point for writers wishing to assert the membership of states in a mutually dependent system.  More directly, the cosmopolitan connections that prevailed among scientists earned many of them concrete roles in the growing diplomatic exchange among states. [50]

Second, as an important contributor to the mechanical image of the universe, science offered a theoretical orientation consistent with the political doctrine of equilibrium. [51]  By being associated with science, states were symbolically associated, however explicitly or implicitly, with this political doctrine.  Many of the political theories emphasizing balance and equilibrium had, in fact, been framed by persons either directly interested .in science, as in the case of Bacon, Sully, and Leibniz, or who had been influenced by the work of their contemporaries in science, as in the case of Grotius, Locke, and Penn.  Geoffrey Barraclough has suggested that the connection between the scientific world-view and these political theories became increasingly evident toward the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth:

In fact, the idea of an equilibrium is clearly connected with the mechanistic outlook of the age of Newton, and also with the theistic notions of a self-adjusting cosmic harmony current during the Enlightenment.  There was no necessary connexion between this idea (which might be worldwide) and the notion of European integration.  But in the circumstances of the day, when Europe was considered as a republic of independent states, it is not surprising that the balance of power was commonly treated as the mechanical means - indeed, the only practical mechanical means - by which European integration could be attained, since it was generally agreed that it could not be allowed to take place through the hegemony of any one power. [52]

In a loose sense, the scientific outlook provided a picture of the universe that


corresponded with the concrete situation (of multiple forces in dynamic equilibrium) in which the European states interacted.

Third, as an activity concerned with the generation of knowledge and having relatively high international visibility (owing greatly to the erudition and public stature of its members), science was suitable to dramatize the states’ commitment to informed, rational behavior.  The legitimacy of social actors frequently rests heavily on the likelihood that questions will not be raised about their behavior.  This likelihood can be enhanced simply by acting as if one is in command of the situation.  Thus, in the seventeenth century it was common to find representatives of the European states acting as if they were in control of the situation by engaging in financial planning, the promotion of trade and industry, the institution of proper bureaucratic offices, the securing of expert advice, and (of most importance for present purposes) the sponsorship of science and learning, [53] even though these activities proved to be relatively ineffective.  Yet as ritual activity they served to dramatize that states were paying proper attention to the cultivation of rational behavior.  By providing patronage to scientists and scientific academies, representatives of the state created a symbolic link between the state and the kind of knowledge that scientists embodied in much the same way that the recruitment of diplomats from the more cultivated elites created a link between the state and the kinds of virtues that these personnel were thought to embody. [54]

Fourth, as an activity concerned with the discovery of the laws of nature, science was adaptable to functioning as a symbolic link between the state and the overarching conception of normative order that was contained in theories of natural law.  One of the means by which membership in a social system can be asserted and legitimated is through activities that dramatize social actors’ submission to norms shared by other members of the system.  In social systems lacking a single center of authority these norms are unlikely to be fully institutionalized but exist nonetheless in taken-for-granted assumptions that tend to be reaffirmed through ritual activity.  Although the European state system in the seventeenth century was deeply divided along religious and political lines, conceptions of natural law to which states were assumed to be subject can be found in various formulations in the writings of virtually all the major political theorists of the period. [55]  Accordingly, one of the ways in which membership in the state system could be dramatized and legitimated was through activities that demonstrated conformity to these common assumptions.  Sponsoring the activities of scientists was one of the ways this was accomplished.

Fifth, as a body of knowledge and technique that was both new and as yet

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little understood, science was amenable to contributing a sense of esoteric power to the state.  Extraordinary power, Durkheim has shown, inheres in that which is set apart from the mundane, the sacred, whose special identity is shrouded in mystery and protected with ritual. [56]  The sacred embodies the special wisdom of the gods, of ultimate reality, and the power of this wisdom is shared through ceremonial participation in the sacred rites.  Secular authorities have always paid homage to the practitioners of these sacred mysteries, whether the primitive witch doctor, the court magician, or the religious prophet.  In similar fashion the modern state from earliest times has associated itself with the activities of those concerned with unlocking the “mysteries” of nature.  The point here has nothing to do with technological or military gains actually derived from these associations, but with the ceremonial attribution of power that comes from these associations.  For the image of the mercantilist state as an entity endowed with superior wisdom to be maintained, it was necessary that connections between the state and the various fountains of wisdom be demonstrated, especially to the representatives of competing states.  Its relation with scientific experimentation served as a means of dramatizing this connection.

Finally, as a new institution with few connections to traditional interests, science was suitable as a symbol of the corporate order of the state.  In decentralized social systems consisting of loosely coupled social units it is important to their functioning and survival that they be regarded as corporate entities, not as mere aggregates of resources that might be claimed by other units. [57]  Thus, as already observed, much of the ceremonial behavior of the seventeenth century focused on dramatizing the corporate identity and status of the state.  These were characteristically activities sponsored by the state and were seldom likely to highlight or aggravate domestic factions, conflicts, or subunits of authority.  Religious activities, for example, undoubtedly played a smaller role than in previous times because of the deep religious division that continued to divide the loyalties of citizens.  The universities also failed to provide a useful means of dramatizing the corporate unity of the state and its relation to knowledge since, following the decline of the church’s influence over the universities, they had become a force increasingly associated with the power of local interests. [58]  The distinctive degree to which science had developed largely outside of the church and the university made it less problematic as an activity that the state could sponsor.  Lacking strong ties with traditional institutions, it could more readily be adopted as a symbol of the state’s autonomous activities.

To recapitulate the argument thus far: the decentralized or multicentric authority structure of the European state system in the seventeenth century


engendered ceremonial activities aimed at dramatizing the corporate identity and strength of each state to the others and their membership in a common system of interdependence.  Science appears to have been included among the activities capable of fulfilling these dramaturgical functions for the reasons just considered as well as possible others.  The ceremonial functions of science, in addition to its purely utilitarian functions, help to illuminate the close connections that were maintained between science and representatives of the state in the form of patronage, offices, and amateur experimentation.  It need not be assumed that these ceremonial functions entered into the conscious deliberations or the stated motivations of those who gave or received patronage.  Merely the fact that a close relation developed between science and the state contributed importantly to the shaping of scientific activity and its organization.  The outlines of these effects may now be suggested.


Effects on the Development of Science

The role of financial support for the sciences has already been considered.  What the foregoing discussion of the ceremonial role of science now helps to explain are the facts (a) that science continued to be supported although it was not of great practical value, and (b) that persons of erudition tended to be more visible in the scientific academies than persons of proven practical accomplishments.  Patronage to the sciences served legitimating functions for the mercantile state independently of its economic or technological contributions, and the erudition of those elected to the scientific academies enhanced their legitimating potential.  For science, the fact that patronage came increasingly to be institutionalized in the state ensured that this support was likely to be stable and continuous rather than dependent on the whims and good fortunes of private donors. [59]

The role of scientific autonomy has also been considered already.  The importance of autonomy becomes all the more apparent when one recognizes the close relation that existed between seventeenth-century science and the state.  What the present interpretation suggests is an additional explanation for the degree to which scientists were able to exercise their autonomy.  Representatives of an overarching conception of normative order hold legitimate claim to dual loyalties, both to their own state and to the larger normative order, in a way that representatives of domestic interests alone do not.  Thus, scientists of the seventeenth century (like musicians and diplomats) enjoyed international freedom of an order that spies and soldiers or even monarchs, as representatives of the state, did not.  Moreover, as ceremonial actors linking the state to larger conceptions of order, scientists benefited from the international competition that developed for their services, it being a sign of a state’s

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power and modernity for the state to be successful at attracting the most erudite practitioners. [60]

In its ceremonial relation to the state science also gained a source of legitimacy or certification that was not contingent upon validation through concrete performance.  Since the sheer act of associating itself with science served various dramaturgical functions for the identity of the state, this association did not depend exclusively on the ability of scientists to produce discoveries of practical value.  Science was officially linked with the general interests of the state independently of its concrete accomplishments.  Scientific activities could therefore be removed to a considerable degree from practical affairs, contributing to the development of the image of science as an activity devoted to the pursuit of pure knowledge. [61]  Gaining exemption from criteria of pragmatic evaluation undoubtedly contributed to the early legitimacy of science since its practical accomplishments in these years were frequently disappointing.  Legitimacy independent of pragmatic evaluation has also been important to the long-range development of science since its products have remained difficult to assess by any simple mode of calculation and have been deemed most amenable to assessment by persons within the scientific community itself.

A related characteristic of science also partially derivative from its early relation with the state is the almost universal tendency, at least since the seventeenth century, for science to be regarded as a public good, a fact that has had important ramifications for the structuring of the scientific role. [62]  The public character of scientific activity is by no means inherent in scientific investigation itself; indeed, the earliest academies conducted their investigations in secret, as did many individual scientists, and even today much research is privately sponsored or conducted under national security regulations.  The public character of science has, however, been conducive to the dissemination of scientific ideas and the critical response that open discussion allows. [63]  This characteristic was highly compatible with the ceremonial role of science in the seventeenth century.  Any activity aimed at dramatizing the status of social units to other units in a loosely coupled social system must be performed in public.  Moreover, such activities must be performed for the general benefit of the collectivity sponsoring them. [64]  Thus, one sees an increasing tendency for the deliberations of the scientific academies in the seventeenth century to be made public and their discoveries made the object of public display. [65]

Another characteristic of science that is perhaps linked in part to its early association with the state is its rational mode of organization.  In the seventeenth century rationality enters into the organization of science in two


critical areas - in the planning and systematic documentation of experiments and their results, and in the organization of the scientific academies, including formal procedures of selection, differentiation of formal roles, and systematic codes for the conduct of discussion and research.  Similar moves toward greater rationality of organization in the administrative structure of the state had occurred toward the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries, especially in England and France. [66]  It has been argued that the rational elaboration of formal structure fulfills important ceremonial functions for organizations operating in complex institutional environments. [67]  This argument suggests that the development of rational bureaucratic structure in the mercantile state may have itself been partly a product of the competitive, multicentric authority structure of the larger European environment, and that the move toward rational organization of the sciences may have been but one aspect of this general development.  At any rate, the impact of the state as a model of rational organization for the sciences has been commented upon by a number of observers.  Herbert Butterfield, for example, suggests that Bacon’s greatest contribution to the development of scientific experimentation was not so much the idea of experimentation itself, but the introduction of rational procedures into the experimental process. [68]  Bacon himself had, of course, been deeply involved in the life of the English court and had been much impressed by the need for rational organization in government affairs.  Others have noted the degree to which the organizational structure of the Royal Society and the Academy of Sciences reflected the administrative structure of their respective sponsoring states. [69]

Finally, the relation between the state and science in the context of mercantile state competition may have also influenced the early development of science by reinforcing rivalries among scientists from different countries.  In the ceremonial activities of the seventeenth century more generally the rivalries of states were well in evidence. [70]  No less in science, despite its universalistic values, the spirit of national competition was also evident, especially among the various scientific academies. [71]  This competition may have encouraged and strengthened the multiplicity of academies that developed, and with them, provided a greater degree of intellectual freedom than might have been present had a single academy been able to impose its opinion on all.  State rivalries also provided an additional source of skepticism and corrective criticism of the kind useful for the advancement of scientific knowledge.  It has been said, for example, that there were probably not more than three or four people in all of Europe capable of understanding Newton’s Principia when it was published, among them being Halley in England, Huygens in France, and Leibniz in Germany. [72]  It is probably not entirely coincidental that of the three, only Halley accepted Newton’s work without reservation, Huygens and

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Leibniz by comparison raising important criticisms, some of which were not answered till the nineteenth century.

It is impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy on the basis of available historical information how significant or insignificant the influence of the ceremonial role of science in relation to the state may have been for any of these developments.  Other influences, perhaps largely internal to scientific thought itself, were undoubtedly at least as important.  What the discussion of the state and its role in the larger European system provides is a parsimonious interpretation of the social conditions that may have facilitated the development of a variety of the distinctive characteristics of science.  This interpretation helps to illuminate the nonutilitarian functions of patronage to the sciences, the social functions fulfilled by the selection of virtuosi to the scientific academies, the conditions facilitating scientific autonomy, the early legitimacy of scientific activities, the public character of science, its rational mode of organization, the multiplicity of scientific academies, and the presence of national competition among scientists.  Neither singly nor in combination do these developments account for the tremendous scientific achievements of the seventeenth century.  They nonetheless suggest some of the conditions that may have contributed to the making of these achievements.



1. See Barry Barnes, Scientific Knowledge and Sociological Theory (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974), pp. 99-124, for a discussion of the “internalist” versus “externalist” controversy in the history of science.  Most of the leading historical accounts of the development of science have taken an internalist approach; e.g. see Herbert Butterfield, The Origins of Modern Science, rev. ed. (New York: Free Press, 1965); Charles Coulston Gillispie, The Edge of Objectivity: An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960); Marie Boas, The Scientific Renaissance, 1450-1630 (New York: Harper & Row, 1962); Thomas S. Kuhn, The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1957). Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), which is sometimes considered a sociological theory of scientific development, also stresses factors only within the scientific community.

2. See Robert K. Merton, Science, Technology and Society in Seventeenth-Century England (New York: Harper & Row, 1970); Robert K. Merton, “Puritanism, Pietism, and Science,” in Bernard Barber and Walter Hirsch (eds.), The Sociology of Science (New York: Free Press, 1962), Chapter 3; and for sympathetic extensions of the Merton thesis, see lsidor Thorner, “Ascetic Protestantism and the Development of Science and Technology,” American Journal of Sociology 58 (July 1952), p. 25-33; and R. Hooykaas, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1972).  For the Marxian approach, see Boris Hessen, The Social and Economic Roots of Newton’s ‘Principia’ (New York: Howard Fertig, 1971); Edgar Zilsel, “The Sociological Roots of Science,” American Journal of


Sociology 47 (January 1942), 544-562; and J. D. Bernal, Science in History, 4 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1971).

3. See Lotte Mulligan, “Civil War Politics, Religion and the Royal Society,” Past and Present 59 (May 1973), 92-116; A. Rupert Hall, “Merton Revisited: Science and Society in the 17th Century,” History of Science 11(1963), pp. 1-16;and Richard L. Greaves, “Puritanism and Science: The Anatomy of a Controversy,” Journal of the History of Ideas (July 1969), pp. 345-368.

4. The relation between capitalist technological needs and seventeenth-century science posited by the Marxian approach has been seriously questioned by historians of the period, most of whom have concluded that there was no significant relation.  For example, A. Rupert Hall in speaking of science prior to the nineteenth century has written, “Hitherto the men who followed science at all had done so either for the sake of its personal intellectual satisfactions or as an element in an educational scheme that was not directed towards technical or professional training…” (Hall, “Science, Technology and Utopia in. the Seventeenth Century,” in Peter Mathias, ed., Science and Society, 1600-1900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972, pp. 33-53); also see A. Rupert Hall, “Scientific Method and the Progress of Techniques,” in E. E. Rich and C. H. Wilson (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol. IV: The Economy of Expanding Europe in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), pp. 96-154, for a discussion of a number of the technological discoveries of the period suggesting the same conclusion.  G. N. Clark’s conclusion is that “few of the inventions... owed anything to scientific inquiries for which the century is famous.  The one outstanding example of an invention by a great scientist is the improvement of watches and clocks.  In the metallurgic industries science made some contributions... But inventions were for the most part made by artists and craftsmen, not by men of science” (Clark, Science and Social Welfare in the Age of Newton, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970, pp. 63-64).  In a similar vein Fernand Braudel, whose highly regarded historical work can be regarded as relatively compatible with the Marxist approach, has concluded that “before the seventeenth century, and still in the eighteenth, science was only in its infancy, concerned with itself and its own foundations.  It was not concerned with the crafts or with the practical problems of technology” (Braudel, Capitalism and Material Life, 1400-1800, Mirian Kochan, trans., New York: Harper & Row, 1973, p. 321).  And the economic historian John Nef has concluded, “The more one considers the direct connections between the scientific and the early industrial revolution, the more they seem to be superficial” (Nef, The Conquest of the Material World, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964, pp. 320-321).

5. “The current problems in these various sciences tackled in England were the current problems over all Europe - science was international, critical, competitive in the seventeenth century as it is now.  There was no separate little English world of science isolated from the universe and playing the game according to private rules, as though science were a form of cricket” (A. Rupert Hall, “Science, Technology and Utopia,” op. cit., p. 44).

6. Of the 65 seventeenth-century scientists discussed by Rene Taton (History of Science, 4 vols., New York: Basic Books, 1966), 44 had been educated abroad or had travelled extensively or had worked in countries other than those in which they had been born.  An important source of this internationalism among English scientists was the increasing prestige attached to the so-called Grand Tour.  Lawrence Stone has estimated, for example, that between 1570 and 1639 at least 80 of the 225 peers who went to Oxford, Cambridge, or the Inns of Court spent between two and three years on tour abroad (Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641, London: Oxford University Press, 1967, p. 371).  Information on English scientists of the eighteenth century shows that approximately one in four were still educated

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abroad (Nicholas Hans, New Trends in Education in the Eighteenth Century, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951, p. 35).

7. Mersenne and Justel in France and Hartlib and Oldenberg maintained extensive international correspondence networks among European scientists.  Dorothy Stimson has emphasized the more general communication networks into which many seventeenth-century scientists were integrated. “Though there were no newspapers as yet, even then a network of communications linked England with the European countries.  Men went abroad on government or on private business and brought back European books as well as news.  Students wandered from university in Italy, France, Holland.  Men, exiled to foreign cities, when restored to favor, brought back with them new tastes, new ideas, new interests learned abroad” (Stimson, Scientists and Amateurs: A History of the Royal Society, New York: Henry Schuman, 1948, p. 32).  The growing number of printed books, of which there were an estimated 140 million to 200 million volumes by the end of the sixteenth century, also contributed greatly to the international awareness and communication among scientists (see Braudel, op. cit., pp. 296-298).  On the importance of foreign members in the scientific academies, see Roger Hahn, The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution: The Paris Academy of Sciences, 1666-1803 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971); Martha Ornstein, The Role of Scientific Societies in the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975); and Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism (New York: Collier Books, 1967), p. 368.

8. The importance of decentralized political arrangements for the growth of science, or more generally for intellectual freedom and innovation, has been recognized in the case of Greek science in antiquity (Benjamin Farrington, Science in Antiquity, 2nd ed., London: Oxford University Press, 1969), for the growth of science in Germany and in the United States during the nineteenth century, here specifically due to the decentralized structure of higher education (Joseph Ben-David, “Scientific Productivity and Academic Organization in Nineteenth-Century Medicine,” American Sociological Review 25, December 1960, pp. 828-843, and Joseph Ben-David, The Scientist’s Role in Society, Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971); and for the apparent failure of German science and relative success of American science during World War II (Robert K. Merton, The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973, pp. 254-266; and Bernard Barber, Science and the Social Order, New York: Collier Books, 1962, pp. 93-121).  Indeed, it is possible to posit a loose relation between decentralized or multicentric social systems and each of the major periods of scientific advancement - science in the Greek city-states in antiquity, in the Italian city-states in the sixteenth century, in the European state system in the seventeenth century, and in the competitive nation-state system of the contemporary world.  As an interesting parallel case, Weber’s study of China states, “The rule of orthodoxy followed from the unity of the theocratic world empire and its authoritative regulation of doctrine.  During the Period of the Warring States with its violent struggles we find mobile intellectual currents contesting for dominance just as in the polis-culture of occidental Antiquity” (Max Weber, The Religion of China, New York: Free Press, 1951, p. 152; also see Frederick W. Mote, Intellectual Foundations of China, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, p. 57).

9. “World economies had existed before in history - that is, vast arenas within which a sophisticated division of labor existed based on a network of trade, both long distance and local.  But wherever such a world economy had evolved previously, sooner or later an imperium expanded to fill the geographical space of this economy, a single political structure - such as Rome, Byzantium, China.  The imperial framework established political constraints which prevented the effective growth of capitalism...  By a series of historical accidents too complex to develop here, the nascent European world economy of the sixteenth century knew no such imperium.


The only serious attempt to create one - that of Charles V and the Hapsburgs - was a failure.  The failure of Charles V was the success of Europe” (Immanuel Wallerstein, “Three Paths of National Development in Sixteenth-Century Europe,” Studies in Comparative International Development 7, Summer 1972, pp. 95-101).  This argument is developed in detail in Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Academic Press, 1974).

10. See Edward A. Shils, “The Autonomy of Science,” in Bernard Barber and Walter Hirsch (eds.), op. cit., pp. 610-622; Michael Polanyi, “The Republic of Science: Its Political and Economic Theory,” in Edward Shils (ed.), Criteria for Scientific Development: Public Policy and National Goals (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1968), pp. 1-20; and as evidence of the self-perceived importance of autonomy among scientists, see Marlan Blissett, Politics in Science (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972), p. 73.  Daniel Bell has written: “Despite the fact that it often functioned within state systems - in Germany and in France the universities and academies were state institutions and professors were civil servants - the overriding fact about science was its autonomy as a self-directed community: in the decisions about what research would be undertaken, in the debates about what knowledge was valid, in the recognition of achievement and the granting of status and esteem.  This very autonomy is the heart of the ethos - and organization - of science” (Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, NewYork: Basic Books, 1973, p. 379).

11. W. D. Hackmann, “The Growth of Science in the Netherlands in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries,” in Maurice Crosland (ed.), The Emergence of Science in Western Europe (New York: Science History Publications, 1976), p. 93.

12. Harcourt Brown, Scientific Organizations in Seventeenth-Century France (New York: Russell and Russell, 1934).

13. “The scientific and scholarly movement... was mainly continued in the North, partly by refugees from the South.  Already in the seventies the insecurity prevailing in Brabant and Flanders interfered with the careers of scholars as well as artists and men of letters...  At the same time the foundation of the University of Leyden - a sign of the enhanced importance and self-confidence which resulted from Holland’s separate rebellion - meant the creation of a new centre for the movement of learning in the Netherlands.  With the definitive subjection of the South and the exile of so many of the most vigorous-minded Brabanders and Flemings, there ensued a veritable revolution in the respective positions of North and South, as far as their contributions to the common stock of Netherlands civilization were concerned” (Pieter Geyl, The Revolt of the Netherlands, 1555-1609, London: Williams & Norgate, 1932, pp. 273-274).

14. Ludovico Geymonat, Galileo Galilei: A Biography and Inquiry into His Philosophy of Science; Stillman Drake, trans. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965), pp. 15-16.

15. The reasons for migrating were occasionally related explicitly to gaining greater recognition for one’s scientific accomplishments.  For example, Roger Hahn has described the case of Bertrand de La Costa whose “perpetual motion machine” was greeted with less than enthusiasm by the Paris Academy of Sciences.  Having failed to obtain a patent from them, he turned to the Elector of Brandenburg who awarded him a certificate of approval for his device” (Hahn, The Fall of the Paris Academy of Sciences During the French Revolution, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 1962, pp. 22-24).

16. See Brown, op. cit.  Among the notable scientists who were attracted to France besides Huygens were Viviani, Torricelli’s assistant in the research that led to the invention of the barometer; Cassini, and Roemer, both of whom directed the Royal Observatory.

17. Hackmann, op. cit.  For example, at Gronigen, 34 of its 52 professors were foreigners.

18. “On the Continent, except perhaps in Holland and Denmark, there was no country

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where the learned man who wanted to try new methods of scholarship and research, without any practical purpose, could count as much as in England on sympathetic recognition and authoritative support.  For several generations the universities and the ecclesiastical foundations, including the churches set up by the Reformers, had been generally hostile to revolutionary intellectual innovations.  Queen Elizabeth’s patronage of Gilbert was a symptom of a new attitude among the mighty toward the experimenter and his efforts.  Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614), the French classical scholar, could not find satisfactory conditions for his work either at Geneva or at Paris, and in 1610 he finally sought asylum at the English court and became a naturalized Englishman.  Casaubon’s biographer, Mark Pattison, tells us that the court of James I, for all the king’s pedantry, was the only court in Europe where the learned professions were in any degree appreciated.  It is significant that Kepler, who must have known of James I’s visit to the observatory of Brahe in Denmark in 1590, should have thought enough of the king’s scientific interests to dedicate to him De harmonice mundi, a work published at Augsburg in 1619, in which the great scientist announced his third law of motion.  During James I’s reign, with Francis Bacon in office as solicitor-general and later as attorney-general, the outlook on experimental inquiry by learned men was more liberal in England than in other parts of Europe.  So the English court provided new experimental work with official approval such as could be obtained almost nowhere else” (Nef, op. cit., p. 324).

19. Kagan concludes, “... the ‘imperial’ universities, so vital to the needs of the monarchy, gradually lost their autonomy to the crown, preventing Castile from developing a strong tradition of university learning independent of royal interest and control” (Richard L. Kagan, “Universities in Castile, 1500-1810,” in Lawrence Stone, ed., The University in Society, vol. II: Europe, Scotland and the Unites States from the 16th to the 20th Century, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974, p. 370).  Not only did the crown take a strong interest in salary raises, appointments, academic standards, and student conduct, books imported from the outside world were forbidden and students were with few exceptions forbidden to attend universities outside Castile.  Ortiz attributes the death of Spanish science to these inhibiting conditions.  See Antonio Dominguez Ortiz, The Golden Age of Spain, 1516-1659 (New York: Basic Books, 1971), p. 235.

20. “The Florentine firm Giucciardini Corsi, who advanced money to Galileo, also had interests in Sicilian grain and in the cloth and pepper trade...”  (Femand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, vol. I, New York: Harper & Row, 1972, p. 320).

21. For a detailed account of their activities, see W. E. Knowles Middleton, The Experimenters: A Study of the Accademia del Cimento (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1971); also see Martha Ornstein, op. cit.

22. See Roger Hahn, The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution, op. cit.

23. Henry Oldenberg, for example, received substantial support from the Earl of Cork; a number of scientists at one time or another received support from the Duke of Northumberland; Gresham College, which became a center of early scientific activity, was financed largely through bequests from Thomas Gresham, financial agent to Elizabeth I.

24. Douglas McKie, “The Origins and Foundation of the Royal Society of London,” in Harold Hartley (ed.), The Royal Society: Its Origins and Founders (London: The Royal Society, 1960), p. 35.

25. “His interests in science, which had induced him to draw first Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) and then Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) to his court in Prague, were largely a means of forgetting the obstinacies of the world.  Rudolf II amassed rich collections of curios and art, which formed the beginnings of the modern Austrian galleries” (Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany, Vol. I: The Reformation, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976, p. 284).


26. Other amateur scientists in France included the Duc de Luynes, the Duc de Roannes, and Meichisadec Thevenot, founder of the Academy Thevenot and patron of a number of scientists including Steno and Frenicle, whose diplomatic activities also made him an important link between experimenters in France and Italy.

27. Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, op. cit., p. 326.

28. See also, Wolfram Fischer and Peter Lundgreen, “The Recruitment and Training of Administrative and Technical Personnel,” in Charles Tilly (ed), The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), p. 544: “... noblemen and great officers promoted the rise of applied sciences, not only as patrons but sometimes also as active researchers.  Cuthbert Tunstall, Master of the Rolls under Henry VIII and later Bishop of London and Durham, wrote a textbook on arithmetic (in Latin); in Thomas More’s large household mathematics and astronomy were considered to be principal subjects of study, and the noted mathematician Nichols Katzer tutored More’s children in astronomy.  When John Dee in the third quarter of the sixteenth century assembled a large scientific library in his house near London, it became a center not only for scholars and instrument makers who looked for advice, but also for the great merchants who sought his counsel before voyages, and for members of Elizabeth’s court and council who came to study chemistry with him.  Lord Burghley, Elizabeth’s chief minister, tried to promote both the sciences and scientists.  On this request, William Bourne wrote a short treatise on the properties and qualities of glasses for optical purposes.  Digges, one of the greatest mathematicians of his time, was called into the service of his country as a military engineer, first to supervise the fortifications at Dover, later as Muster-Master-General of the English forces in the Netherlands.”

29. Peter Burke has written of what he regards as misplaced interests in science among the Venetian nobility: “The first was a collector’s interest. Ferigo Contarini had a typical undiscriminating Wunderkammer of the years around 1600 which included minerals and bones, a cat’s testicles and a buffalo’s horn.  The second possible attitude to the natural sciences was the utilitarian attitude of a governing elite.  When Galileo was a professor at Padua, Antonio Briuli went up the tower of S. Marco ‘to see the marvels and singular effects of the telescope of the said Galileo’, but then a telescope had practical value for a naval power.  Besides Nicolo Contarini, Pola Antonio Belegno and Anzolo Diedo were interested in machines.  Belegno had ‘a hydraulic machine’ constructed to serve his palace and its garden.  This pragmatic or utilitarian attitude is summed up in Colluraffi’s treatise on education, which recommends the Venetian noble student to leave ‘subtle and over-curious investigations’, to others, and to study mathematics only in so far as it is relevant to ‘the interest of the commonwealth.’  Mathematics was associated with military studies in a Paduan academy for Venetian nobles, the Delia, founded by Pietro Duodo when he was capitano of Padua in 1607, believing as he did that the ‘mathematical sciences’ were necessary knowledge for ‘a perfect gentleman and soldier’ (Burke, Venice and Amsterdam: A Study of Seventeenth-Century Elites, London: Temple Smith, 1974, pp. 73-74).

30. Roger Hahn, “Scientific Careers in Eighteenth Century France,” in Maurice Crosland (ed.), The Emergence of Science in Western Europe (New York: Science History Publications, 1976), p. 131; James E. King, Science and Rationalism in the Government of Louis XIV, 1661-1683 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1948), p. 289.

31. Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London: Humanities Press, 1974), p. 98.

32. Hahn, The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution, op. cit., p. 7.  In a similar manner, Martha Ornstein has argued that it was the high cost of instruments and laboratories that was one of the important reasons why the aristocracy was so heavily represented among the early scientists and why gradually the scientists began to form organizations to allow greater cooperation in the procurement and use of instruments (Orn-

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stein, op. cit., pp. 67-68).  As anecdotal evidence, Galileo’s biographer has suggested that Galileo’s naming of the satellites of Jupiter after the Medici and his twenty year struggle with the church stemmed from his conviction that official support was imperative if the new science was to grow and spread (Geymonat, op. cit.).

33. See Michael Foss, The Age of Patronage: The Arts in Society, 1660-1750 (London: Hamilton, 1971).

34. Nef, op. cit., p.282.

35. In France, for example, the Academy of Sciences (1666) was but one of a number of academies founded during this period, including the Academy of France (1635) the purpose of which was to promote the French language, the Academy of Painting and Sculpture (1648) which was concerned with the fine arts, the Academy of Inscriptions and Letters (1663) which was oriented toward coinage, metals, and related problems, and the Academy of Architecture (1671).  Of music, John Wolf has written, “Every court, every important nobleman, every major city maintained or supported musicians, and several dozen opera houses scattered throughout the continent gave further employment” (John B. Wolf, The Emergence of the Great Powers, 1685-1715, New York: Harper & Row, 1951, p. 258).

36. Among the innovations in the arts during this period was the emergence of the novel, the modern key system in music, the opera, and new techniques in ballet.

37. Clark, op. cit., p. 9.

38. Hahn, The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution, op. cit., pp. 14-15.

39. Maurice Ashley, England in the Seventeenth Century (London: Penguin Books, 1973), p. 156.

40. The idea of an equilibrium in international relations is particularly evident in Machiavelli and later in the writings of Harrington and Cromwell and in the Duke of Sully’s Great Design.  “That Europe should be unified through the hegemony of any one power, be it Hapsburg or be it Bourbon,” writes Goeffrey Barraclough, “was rejected on all sides as unthinkable” (European Unity in Thought and Action, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1963, p. 28).

41. See Gustav Schmoller, The Mercantile System and Its Historical Significance (New York: Macmillan, 1896); Eli F. Hecksher, Mercantilism, 2 vols. (London: Allen & Unwin, 1955); Klauss E. Knorr, British Colonial Theories, 1570-1850 (Toronto: The University of Toronto Press, 1944); and Charles Wilson, Mercantilism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958).

42. King, op. cit., p. 52.

43. Ibid., p.57.

44. The situation is similar at the transnational level to the kinds of collective shocks in societies that Durkheim regarded as the origin of ritual activity aimed as restoring the identity and boundaries of the collectivity.  The presence of this kind of activity has been noted especially in the witch-hunting of the seventeenth century (see H. R. Trevor-Roper, The European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, New York: Harper & Row, 1967).

45. I have discussed the importance of this transitional period as a source of ideological activity of a religious sort elsewhere (see “World Order and Religious Movements,” Society, in press; and “Religious Movements and the Transition in World Order,” in Jacob Needleman, ed., Studies in the New Religions, New York: Harper & Row, in press).

46. “Of the most characteristic conceptions dominating the public life of the seventeenth century there remains to be noted the tremendous importance attached to questions of ceremony and precedence...  The seventeenth century can hardly be understood unless it is realized how much importance was attached to such matters.  At Münster and Osnabrück the proceedings of Europe’s first peace congress were constantly being delayed and thwarted by petty questions of precedence and ceremonial.  Negotiations between France and Spain were made possible


in 1659 by the fortunate fact that in the stream (the Bidossoa) dividing the two countries there was a small island on which the French and Spanish agents would meet without any prejudice to the precedence claimed by either country.  At Karlowitz in 1699 the peace negotiations were jeopardized on more than one occasion by the most absurd and quibbling points of etiquette and precedence.  These matters were given an enhanced importance by the great increase in the diplomatic personnel of Europe.  At the beginning of the century every independent European state, except Turkey, had a diplomatic corps, and it was the duty of the members of this comparatively new profession to insist on the punctilious observation of international etiquette as well as to maintain, in their own persons, the status which they claimed for the country they represented.  By granting the right of direct representation to the separate states of Germany, the treaty of Westphalia greatly increased the diplomatic personnel of Europe, and diplomacy soon came to be a distinct profession, drawn from an exclusive class, distinguished by exceptional privileges, and having an elaborate code of ceremonial and conduct” (David Ogg, Europe in the Seventeenth Century, New York: Collier, 1972, pp. 36-38).

47. Sir George Clark, The Seventeenth Century, 2nd ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1947), pp. 139-143.  Clark suggests that these boundary confrontations were a means of testing the strength of other states in an age in which good information on the resources of alien powers was often lacking.  The result, he says, was that frontiers gradually came to be transformed from gray areas into exact lines.

48. Definitions of membership are important in any social system since rights and rewards are likely to be allocated on the basis of membership.  In centralized systems membership is typically defined by a charismatic leader, by a rational table of organization, or by traditional ascriptive characteristics.  In decentralized or multicentric systems, in contrast, membership depends to a greater extent on ceremonial activities that demonstrate commonalities among the units in the system.  For an example of the ways in which formal structure fulfills these functions in systems of organizations, see John W. Meyer and Brian Rowan, “Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony,” American Journal of Sociology 83 (September 1977), pp. 340-363.

49. Jean Eon, Le commerce honorable ou considerations politiques sur l’estat du commerce de France (Nantes, 1646), p. 135; quoted in King, op. cit.  In mercantilist theory science was also regarded as one of the resources that the state should take responsibility for developing.  For example, “Laffemas, the earliest of the French economic writers who attempted to work the scattered mercantilist ideas into a complete system, proposed the organization of Chambres des manufactures which should instruct youth in ‘sciences’ and teach them to study scientific treatises.  In his Economies royales (published in 1638, long after he was out of office), the Duc de Sully, who had been the principal finance minister of Henry IV, proposed an industrial museum like that suggested by Descartes; there should be set up in the Louvre a collection of models of machines used in industries.  A. de Montchretien, who had traveled in Holland, Germany, and Switzerland, proposed the establishment in France of the sort of elementary industrial training which he had seen abroad” (Frederick B. Artz, The Development of Technical Education in France, 1500-1850, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1966, p. 24).  By sponsoring scientific experimentation and education in the sciences the mercantilist state dramatized to its subjects and to the representatives of competing states that it was responsibly developing these resources.

50. The degree of higher education, foreign travel, and international connections among scientists suited them well for diplomatic service and a number of them (e.g. Bacon, Leibniz, Thevenot, Franklin) served temporarily in such capacities (cf., W. H. Greenleaf, Order, Empiricism and Politics: Two Traditions of English Political Thought, London: Oxford University Press, 1964). These diplomatic activities, in turn, occa-

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sionally became the means by which scientists came into contact with other scientists or came to the attention of new patrons (e.g., see Middleton, op. cit., pp. 286-287).

51. The similarity most frequently noted was in the idea of order through the action and counteraction of multiple forces or bodies, as in a machine where equilibrium is maintained, not by any single controlling force, but by the functioning together of the individual parts.  For a discussion of mechanical theory in seventeenth-century science, see Richard S. Westfall, The Construction of Modern Science: Mechanisms and Mechanics (New York: Wiley, 1971).

52. Barraclough, op. cit., p. 29.

53. See Fischer and Lundgreen, op. cit.

54. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries increasing emphasis came to be placed on the education, character, social status, and etiquette of ambassadors and diplomats - seemingly in large part for ceremonial ends.  French ambassadors, for example, were for the most part chosen from the upper stratum of the noblesse d’epee, not because “peers of the realm were necessarily more competent than others,” writes Zeller, but because “the king believed them to be capable of making a greater impression abroad...”  (G. Zeller, “French Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in Their European Setting,” in F. L. Carsten, ed., The New Cambridge Modern History, vol. V: The Ascendancy of France, 1648-88, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969, pp.198-221).  See also Garrett Mattingly,Renaissance Diplomacy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955).

55. For example, Hobbes, Spinoza, Althusias, Grotius, and Locke.  Lacking agreement about religious conceptions of universal order, theories increasingly stressed the laws of nature as principles to which all states were commonly subject.

56. Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (New York: Free Press, 1965), especially pp. 216-272.

57. The general role of ceremonial activity in dramatizing the corporateness of social units is suggested by a number of studies showing empirical relations between degree of corporateness and degree of ceremonial activity; see for example, Y. Cohen, The Transition from Childhood to Adolescence (Chicago: Aldine, 1964), Frank Young, Initiation Ceremonies: A Cross Cultural Study of Status Dramatization (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964), David H. Kamens, “Legitimating Myths and Educational Organization: The Relationship between Organizational Ideology and Formal Structure,” American Sociological Review 42 (April 1977), pp. 208-219, and Albert James Bergesen, “Political Witch Hunts: The Sacred and the Subversive in Cross-National Perspective,” American Sociological Review 42 (April 1977), pp. 220-232.

58. Especially in England, due to shifting climates in religious opinion, the role of the papacy in the patronage of higher learning had been declining since the middle of the fourteenth century (see Guy Fitch Lytle, “Patronage Patterns and Oxford Colleges,c. 1300-1530,”in Stone, ed., The University in Society, op. cit., pp. 111-150).  As church patronage declined the universities had fallen increasingly under the control of local interests and jurisdictions on which they were financially dependent.  The effect on student life at Cambridge has been vividly portrayed by Victor Morgan, “Cambridge University and ‘The Country,’ 1560-1640,” in Stone, ed., The University in Society, op. cit., pp. 183—246.  For example: “Of what loyalties was a boy conscious as a student at early 17th century Cambridge?  Surely one loyalty was that to his home ‘country,’ as he pored over books reserved for boys from that country, perhaps used and marked in his days as a student by the schoolmaster who had started him on his academic career; working in a study built out of the benefactions of a man from his own country, sharing a chamber with a boy from the same town or region, overseen by a tutor who was a member of the college by right of the same regional dispensation, whose acquaintance or companion-


ship he could expect to enjoy in his subsequent careers; surrounded by other boys from other parts of the kingdom, attending the college under analogous regulations; his sojourn there financed by the fruits of those fields he had known as a child, would know again as a man, perhaps tilled by his father and brothers or tenanted by his patron.  Herein lay the roots of that strong bond of sentiment attaching him to his country; sentiments originating in the realities of a physical place and reinforced in the college by the ever present mneumonics of his dependence” (pp. 219-220).  A similar argument about Oxford is made by Lawrence Stone, “The Size and Composition of the Oxford Student Body, 1580-1909,” in Stone (ed.), The University in Society, op. cit., pp. 3-110; see especially p. 7.

59. The stability that characterized the Royal Society and the Academy of Sciences, for example, contrasts with that of the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome (1600-1630) which disappeared after the death of its patron Federigo Cesi.  Galileo’s dependence upon the whims of his various patrons has already been mentioned.  Gassendi’s career, interrupted in 1637 by the death of his patron Peiresc until it resumed under the protection of Louis de Valois, provides another example.

60. As a general principle of ceremonial behavior, it appears that the greater the competition among social units, the higher the status of their ceremonial actors.  The prestige of athletic teams, school colors, mascots, etc., for example, is never higher than at those times when arch-rivals such as Princeton and Yale or Army and Navy confront each other.

61. This image reached its most vivid expression in the philosophe of the eighteenth century who aimed to be a person set apart from the world, striving for the discovery of supreme truths uncontaminated by the ignorance of the masses.

62. One consequence has been that scientists have not had to cultivate direct relations with clients such as other professionals (e.g. physicians and lawyers) have, perhaps affording greater intellectual autonomy, and permitting the development of non-conventional life styles and values that function to create social distance between scientists and others.  See Alan E. Bayer, “College and University Faculty: A Statistical Description,” American Council on Education Research Reports 5 (1970), no. 5; Joel E. Gerstl, “Leisure, Taste and Occupational Milieu,” Social Problems (Summer 1961), pp. 56-68; Charles H. Anderson and John D. Murray, “Kitsch and the Academic,” in Charies H. Anderson and John D. Murray (eds.), The Professors: Work and Life Styles among Academicians (Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman, 1971), pp. 175-183; and J. P. Nettl, “Ideas, Intellectuals, and Structures of Dissent,” in Philip Rieff (ed.), On Intellectuals: Theoretical Studies, Case Studies (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1969), pp. 53-124.

63. The positive functions of the “communalistic” norm in science has been discussed by, among others, Robert Merton, The Sociology of Science, op. cit., pp. 273-275, and Norman W. Storer, The Social System of Science (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), p. 79.

64. As an extreme example, an athletic team that performs ceremonial functions for a school must perform in public; it may perform poorly, but it must perform in public.  That athletes perform as representatives of the corporate entity of which they are a part, whereas intellectually oriented students are regarded as performing for their personal benefit, has been suggested as one of the reasons for the high status of high school athletes (e.g. see James S. Coleman, Adolescent Society, New York: Free Press, 1961).

65. The Academy of Sciences, for example, opened its meetings to a number of important persons both from France and from throughout Europe, such as the French royal family, Peter the Great, the King of Denmark, the King of Sweden, Emperor Joseph II, Czar Paul I, and Prince Henry (Hahn, The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution, op. cit., pp. 73-74).

66. Among the discussions of these reforms, see Charles Wilson, England’s Apprentice-

241 Index

ship, 1603- 763 (London: Longmans, 1965); G. R. Elton, The Tudor Revolution in Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966); Frederick C. Dietz, English Public Finance, 1558-1641 (London: Frank Cass, 1964); and Charles Tilly (ed.), The Formation of National States in Western Europe, op. cit.

67. Meyer and Rowan, op. cit.

68. Herbert Butterfield, The Origins of Modern Science, rev. ed. (New York: Free Press, 1965), p. 113.

69. See Ornstein, op. cit.  Of the relation between rationalism in the state and rationalism in sciences Hahn writes, “The notion of order, control, and power appealed equally to the planners of the state and to the new rulers of the mind, so that the idea of a partnership between them appeared almost automatically” (Hahn, The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution, op. cit., p. 45).

70. One vivid example occurred in the battle of the palaces that took place after the completion of Versailles.  “Versailles was almost as much a challenge to Europe as Louis’s trumpets and soldiers.  German rulers, perhaps from a feeling of inferiority, felt impelled to answer that challenge in stone and mortar as well as on the field of battle.  In Berlin Frederick I (III) began the Schloss.  His architect and sculptor, Schlüter, did not have the unlimited funds put at the disposal of Mansart and Le Brun, but between 1698 and 1706 he reared a monument suitable to his master’s proud though newly acquired title of King in Prussia.  In England, the queen and parliament, temporarily grateful to Marlborough, ordered the construction of Blenheim palace, an enormous, impressive monument to the defeat of the French king, but, like Versailles, not a very comfortable residence.  In Vienna, Fischer von Erlach and Lukas von Hildebrandt, architects to the emperor and to the fabulously rich soldiers and statesmen who conquered Hungary, erected palaces that defied the arrogance of the French king.  The first of these were still of the Versailles-baroque design but by 1715, when plans for the Belvedere, the Schwarzenberg palace, and the Bohemian Hofkanzlei were being made, the softer, more graceful rococo style was beginning to invade Vienna also.  In Wüizburg, where Balthasar Neumann and Lukas von Hildebrandt constructed the Residenz, and in Dresden, where Poppelmann built the Zwinger, the baroque of Versailles and the most intimate rococo combined to set the pattern for eighteenth-century architects and decorators.  The difference between Versailles, completed in the later 1680’s, and the Zwinger, begun in 1711, is an excellent guage of the change in taste and style from the heavy magnificence of Louis XIV to the gay elegance of the eighteenth century” (Wolf, op. cit., p. 252).

71. The rivalries between the Royal Society and the Academy of Sciences is well known.  It appears that such rivalries also characterized the earlier academies.  Indeed, one theory of the founding of the Accademia del Cimento in Tuscany - the theory espoused by the distinguished Italian historian Riguccio Galluzzi - suggests that it may have been at least partly motivated by the founding of an Academy of Belles Lettres in Vienna a year previously (1656).  Middleton discounts this theory on the grounds that the Academy was short-lived and had nothing to do with scientific experimentation.  Yet the fact remains that the founders of the Accademia del Cimento were aware of the other academy and that the two manifested an organizational similarity in their respective states.  It is also of interest to note the following remark made by Giovan Battista Gondi, one of the secretaries of Grand Duke Ferdinand II, about the founding of the Academy: “There were many other people who could have been appointed to this academy, but His Highness said that their Majesties and he had thought that the assembly would have more dignity if none were admitted but those of eminent and distinguished nobility; so that I did not esteem it to be to my disadvantage to be recognized by all the Court, in this way too, as not unworthy to enter this rank” (quoted in Middleton, op. cit., p. 49).  Middleton has also presented correspondence from the 1650’s showing the rivalry


then beginning to exist between the Montmor Academy in Paris and the scientists associated with Prince Leopold in Tuscany.  For example, a letter from Constantyn Huygens to his brother Christiaan states, “We have had a good laugh at that fine assembly at Monseiur de Montmor’s, and what happened in that meeting of fools when you were there hardly makes us respect the intelligence of these academicians, who patiently listen to pedants jawing for hours on end about nothings.  To tell you what I think, it seems to me that those gentlemen in Florence are worth much more than these Parisians and treat things with fore-thought and modesty” (pp. 298-299).

72. Wolf, op. cit., p. 224.



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