Gordon McOuat

Professor of Humanities
BA, MA, PhD(Tor)

Faculty Member, History of Science and Technology Programme, Contemporary Studies Programme

Phone: 902.422.1271 ext. 216

Gordon McOuat teaches Sciences Studies in the Contemporary Studies Programme and the History of Science and Technology Programme. He has been a research fellow at Cambridge University,  senior research fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, MIT, research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and visiting professor at the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and the Humanities. He is also past-president of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science (CHSPS). His work covers the history, philosophy and politics of classification systems, logic and natural kinds, and general work in the methodology, history, philosophy, and culture of science. He was also co-coordinator of the University of King's College's five-part public lecture series, Trust in Science.

Dr. McOuat is director of the SSHRC-funded Strategic Knowledge Cluster, Situating Science, a seven-year project to promote new ways of bringing together leading Canadian and international scholars studying science and technology from philosophical, historical, sociological, and cultural perspectives, along with colleagues in adjacent fields, and making that work integrated with and accessible to journalists, museum workers, and the Canadian public. He has just begun a SSHRC-funded partnership with universities in Canada, India, and South-East Asia to study "Cosmopolitanism and the local".

Current Research Projects

Currently, Dr. McOuat is working on a revisionist history of essentialism as well as researching the Eastern order of things.


  • Narratives of Nature and Science, East and West, (with Sundar Sarukkai), Routledge, forthcoming 2014.
  • Circulating Knowledge Between Britain, India and China, Amsterdam: Brill, 2013 (with B Lightman and L Stewart).
  • Descartes and the Modern (volume co-edited by G. McOuat, N. Robertson and T. Vinci, introduction by G. McOuat) Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar's Press, 2008. [contributors include Catherine Wilson, Jonathan Israel, Stephen Gaukroger, J.L Marion, Vincent Carraud, Tad Schmaltz, Daniel Garber, Graham Nicholson, etc.]

Selected Publications:

  • “The origins of ‘natural kinds’: keeping ‘essentialism’ at bay in the Age of Reform”. Intellectual History Review 19 (2009): 211-30.
  • “Benthamite logic”. In Handbook for the history of logic, ed. D. Gabbay and J. Wood, vol. 4. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2008, pp. 1-32 (co-authored with C. Varma).
  • “Mertonian norms, the local life of science and the long duré”. In Public science in liberal democracy, ed. Jene Porter and Peter Phillips. Montreal: McGills-Queens University Press, 2008, pp. 121-35.
  •  “The dynamic system of Bunzo Hayata: historicism, Japanese imperialist science and the eastern order of things”. In Historical consciousness, historiography and modern Japanese values, ed. James C. Baxter. Kyoto: Japanese International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 2003, pp. 258-74.
  • “The logical systematist: George Bentham and his Outline of a new system of logic”. Archives of Natural History 30 (2003):203-223.
  • “The politics of ‘natural kinds’: practices of classification in the Age of Reform”. Reprint in Spaces of classification, ed. Ursual Klein. Berlin: Max Planck Insitut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte Preprint Series, 2003, pp. 97-114.
  •  “The latest Latour: realism and hope in Science Studies”. Canadian Journal of History 36 (2001): 305-11 (essay review).
  • “The mistaken Gestalt of Science Studies: Steve Fuller takes on Kuhn”. Canadian Journal of History 36 (2001): 523-7 (essay review).
  • “From cutting nature at its joints to measuring it: species, new kinds and new kinds of people in biology”. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 32 (2001): 613-45 (special issue on ‘Measurement’). 
  • “Cataloguing power: delineating ‘competent naturalists’ and the meaning of species in the British Museum”. British Journal for the History of Science 34 (2001):1-28.
  •  “Patricia Fara, ed. Memory”. Canadian Journal of History 36 (2001):202-5 (essay review). 
  • “Rudolf Virchow”. In Reader’s guide to the history of science, ed. Arne Hessenbruk. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001, pp. 747-8. 
  • “Anthropology”. In Reader’s guide to the history of science, ed. Arne Hessenbruk. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001, pp. 30-33.

Classes Taught 

  • CTMP3000.06X/Y Science and Culture
  • CTMP4200.03/HSTC4200.03 Philosophies of Technology I: The Questions Concerning Technology
  • HSTC1200.06/HSTC2200.06 Introduction to the History of Science
  • HSTC4000.06X/Y Science and Nature in the Modern Period
  • HSTC3611 Brewing Science
  • HSTC2204.03 The Darwinian Revolution
  • HSTC4300.03 Nature and Romanticism



Social and cultural place of science and technology; Scientific methodology; Natural kinds and classification; Logic; Darwinism and evolution.