This article uses a discussion between historian & philosopher of sci as a point of departure for a brief examination of a special task of the sociol of sci. Both proceed according to certain ritualized conventions. They take for granted that it is possible, today as in the 17th cent, to work out a theory of sci by concentrating on one sci only--theoretical physics. They are unable to come to grips with the diversification of sci's as a theoretical problem. The growth of a single sci itself is treated by them as if it were an absolutely autonomous soc development. A sociol'al theory of sci's has to take into account the observable advance of sci'fic knowledge into areas of the universe that were previously unknown or inaccessible to sci'fic exploration. It has to take into account the emergence of the biological & soc sci's both as a sci-immanent & a sci-transcendant problem. Philosophers & historians of sci have constructed a seemingly inpenetrable conceptual wall between immanent & transcendent developments. According to them, 'internal' history of a sci can be treated as independent of 'external' history. The article indicates that this is part of a professional ideology. By claiming absolute autonomy for one's subject matter one tries to secure the absolute autonomy of one's profession. If that claim is abandoned, the fashionable problem of continuities & discontinuities in the development of sci's appears in a diff light. Neither discontinuity nor autonomy of a sci'fic development can ever be absolute. Its relative autonomy, however, can grow or diminish. That of physics, for instance, is at present noticibly greater than that of sociol. One may well ask why that is the case. That is the problem which requires a sociol'al as distinct from a philosophical or historical investigation. HA
source: Sociological Abstracts, Inc.