CAS academician: research into S&T history should shed light on the present
"What's important about research into the history of science and technology (S&T) is to reveal the laws and truths implied in historical materials in order to guide current development," said Han Qide at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Annual Conference of the Chinese Society for the History of Science & Technology (CSHST) last Saturday.
Han is honorary president of the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
The research into S&T history should be conducted chronologically, with historical materials as the bases and support of philology and archaeology, Han noted. He added that it was difficult to conclude original research outcomes without making use of abundant and especially newly-discovered historical materials.
More importantly, endeavors should be made continuously to uncover the rules the historical materials indicate so as to draw lessons from history, Han continued.
However, some S&T history study is simply an accumulation of historical materials leading to nothing but meaningless or illogical conclusions. Some researchers collect previously published documents only and reveal principles that are shallow and already known. Han has referred to all this as "research for research's sake."
To obtain practical study outcomes, Han pointed out, "Researchers should first make up their minds to pursue academic excellence and take pains to do their jobs well. Second, they should expand their knowledge scope to strengthen both scientific and historical literacy."
In addition, Han proposed at the conference the enhancement of research into the S&T history of contemporary China, citing that since contemporary history was the most closely related to the present day, research into this aspect — at present a weak link in China's S&T history study — would be most valuable in guiding today's S&T practice.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of CSHST. Han hoped that the society could mobilize the enthusiasm of its members and organize more small-sized seminars of various forms to advance the study of S&T history and thus expand its influence.
He also encouraged the researchers to align their study with national strategies so as to contribute to China's S&T innovation and the overall development of the science culture.
(You can also read it at: http://www.china.org.cn/china/2020-11/19/content_76927664.htm)