“Elective Affinities” and Development of “Normal Science”: What Kind of Regulation? The Example of Hans Selye (1907–1981)
The purpose of this article is to study how religious beliefs played a role in the development of science. Science is studied by using the T. S. Kuhn theory of “normal science”. Kuhn describes the mechanism of “normal science” as “the regular work of scientists theorizing, observing, and experimenting within a settled paradigm” (Kuhn 1962). Hans Selye dedicated much of his life to disseminating the notion of stress and was instrumental in introducing it into the medical discourse. He publicized his own notion of stress and built a new paradigm. Through his archival research, Guillaume Lecoeur was able to divide the itinerary of Selye’s elective affinity into three “ages”: childhood, maturity and profession. Hans Selye’s “elective affinities” are rooted in his Catholic origins and his life in Hungary. His meetings with other scientists such as James Bertram Collip and Walter Cannon, a protestant, played a major role in the formalization of his “affinity”. The last part studies the age of profession which corresponds to the realization of Selye’s elective affinity. Selye spread his “invention” and popularized the concept of stress. His professional ethics were echoed in newspaper articles and ultimately helped disseminate the notion of stress.
KeywordsStress Elective affinity Normal science Regulation Social trajectory
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