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Spence, D.P. (2000). Remembrances of Things Past. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 9(1):149-162.

(2000). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 9(1):149-162

Science and Psychoanalysis in the Twenty-first Century: Introductory Paper

Remembrances of Things Past

Dr. Donald P. Spence, M.D.

Card-carrying members of the British Royal Society in the eighteenth century were eager to separate their new science from the more traditional alchemy and develop a method of investigation that was above suspicion. The early practitioners saw the need to make things public and visible as a way of counteracting the privacy of alchemy and the suspicion that surrounded this privacy. As a result, they became newly aware of the importance of using witnesses as a check on credibility. The historians Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer have emphasized this theme in their account of the British physicist and chemist Robert Boyle and his encounters with the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. It was Boyle who realized that just as witnesses were important in law as a means of validating a piece of testimony, the same principle operated in science where witnesses were needed to validate matters of fact:

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