The importation of being earnest: The early St. Petersburg academy of sciences

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Abstract

Recent studies in the history of early modern science, using examples from Western Europe, have placed great emphasis on the role etiquette protocols played as conditions of possibility for the establishment of scientific societies. The Russian case provides a unique counterpoint to these claims, since in 1725 the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences was imported ready-made from the Berlin model proposed to Peter the Great by Leibniz several years earlier. In contrast to standard interpretations of the academy as a purely utilitarian endeavor, this essay argues that Peter took Leibniz's academic structure and used it as the apex of both his educational projects and new manners reforms designed to transform Russia into a "Western" state. This view of the academy is explored to shed light on Russian natural philosophical publications, scientific disputes in the early academy, and the issue of the "Enlightenment" in Russia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalIsis
Volume91
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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