This article examines the often-overlooked role of chemical ideas and practices in the history of modern biology. The first section analyses how the conventional histories of the life sciences have, through the twentieth century, come to focus nearly exclusively on evolutionary theory and genetics, and why this storyline is inadequate. The second section elaborates on what the restricted neo-Darwinian history of biology misses, noting a variety of episodes in the history of biology that relied on developments in - or tools from - chemistry, including an example from the author’s own work. The diverse ways in which biologists have used chemical approaches often relate to the concrete, infrastructural side of research; a more inclusive history thus also connects to a historiography of materials and objects in science.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemistry (miscellaneous)
- History and Philosophy of Science