HoW jOhnsON UsEs tHe ecOSysTeM modEl tO DisCreDit aDvaNcEmenT

The invention of air presents 3 different ways historians have approached scientific advancement. The first being a cumulative look, where each new idea is building upon the last’s great idea. “Its origins are as a philosophical method, a way of working through an argument to reach a more advanced understanding.”(Johnson, p.45) The second way the book presents is Kuhn’s paradigm shift. Which is when the existing paradigms rules don’t account for new data that appears, which leads some scientists to research outside the existing paradigms rules in turn leading to them inventing a new paradigm that causes the old one to collapse. And the final way the book presents is that of the ecosystem model. “It is a long zoom science… one that jumps from discipline to discipline, to explain its object of study”(Johnson, p.49) Meaning that instead of looking at individual disciplines paradigms being shifted or cumulatively built upon, scientific advancement is a interconnected web where cultures, geography, economics… all play a role in scientific advancement across all fields. Johnson uses the ecosystem model to explain advancement. For example Priestly was forced to live in a house by a brewery that led to his fascination with air and led to his greatest discovery. Similarly in modern times to how Bill Gates had access to a computer lab in his childhood that led to his fascination with computers.

My personal thought is that the ecosystem model is the most accurate way to look at how science has progressed. But that could just be because I was raised in a time that widely thinks and teaches that. Maybe in the future historians will look at advancement through a lens of complete random chance where individuals don’t play any role in the advancement of science.

2 thoughts on “HoW jOhnsON UsEs tHe ecOSysTeM modEl tO DisCreDit aDvaNcEmenT

  1. While I agree that the ecosystem method is the best for describing an individual discovery in a field of science it is not always the best model for every situation. I think that each model is suited best for a specific scope of history and these are what they could be used for in my opinion. The great man model can accurately describe the contributions of a person to science. The paradigm shift model can look at the contributions of many to a great shift in history and that shift in general. While the ecosystem model is best suited for an in depth, deep dive into the history of a singular discovery. While again I do agree that the ecosystem model is the most accurate it might not be the best for larger scope because The vast interconnections of a broad historical topic would make it impossible to succinctly address.


  2. I agree that ecosystem science is one of the most accurate ways to look at the progression of science. However, I think that the notion that humans will one day not play a role in its advancement is false. I think our actions constantly create cause and effect for technological advancements, war is a good example of something that has boosted technology like transportation and weapons. WWII changed the course of history by the creation of tanks, planes boats, and weapons, while conflicts such as the Cold War launched the U.S into space, and forwarded the nuclear program. I believe that even things such as domesticating animals have influenced the progression of technology. I don’t think that any progression is left up to “chance,” but rather a blatant cause and effect of human behavior mixed with contemporary events.


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