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.