Film Theory: Innovation–Concepts from Science (Themata)

One of the most influential books I have read as graduate student at Columbia was Gerald Holton. Thematic Origins of Scientific Thoughts.

The first edition of this work established Gerald Holton’s analysis of the ways scientific ideas evolve. His concept of “themata,” induced from case studies with special attention to the work of Einstein, has become one of the chief tools for understanding scientific progress. It is one of the main approaches in the study of the initiation and acceptance of individual scientific insights.

Three principal consequences of this perspective extend beyond the study of  the history of science. It provides philosophers of science with the raw material on which some of the best work in their field is based. It helps intellectual historians to redefine the place of modern science in contemporary culture by identifying influences on the scientific imagination. And it prompts educators to reexamine the conventional concepts of education in science.

In this new edition, Holton has reshaped the contents and widened the coverage. Significant new material has been added, including a penetrating account of the advent of quantum physics in the U.S., and a broad consideration of the integrity of science, as exemplified in the work of Niels Bohr.

A revised introduction and a new postscript provide an updated perspective on the role of themata. The result is an indispensable volume for scholars and students of scientific thought and intellectual history.