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Dogmatism: On the History of a Scholarly Vice

Why does the history of dogmatism deserve our attention? This open access book analyses uses of the term, following dogmatism from Victorian Britain to Cold War America, examining why it came to be regarded as a vice, and how understandings of its meaning have evolved.

Herman Paul and Alexander Stoeger
12 February 2024
Bloomsbury Academic


"Dogmatism is generally regarded as a bad thing. For scientists in particular, there are few more disconcerting vices than dogmatism. But what exactly does this term mean? Where does it come from and how does its centuries-long history resonate in current debates?

This open-access book, co-authored by Herman Paul and Alexander Stoeger, traces the history of dogmatism as a scholarly vice term. Starting in ancient Greece, but with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it follows the term across periods, countries, and disciplines. It shows how new layers of meaning emerged over time, while older ones sometimes remained surprisingly persistent.

According to Paul and Stoeger, this combination of semantic flexibility and historical connotations helps explain why dogmatism, unlike other ancient vice terms, is still with us as a chameleonic concept that can be pitted against open-mindedness, critical thinking, progress, and innovation. The book makes an original contribution to the history of scholarly virtues and vices and, more broadly, to a transdisciplinary history of the sciences, social sciences, and humanities."

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