Alistair Cameron Crombie

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Alistair Cameron Crombie (4 November 1915 – 9 February 1996) was an Australian historian of science who began his career as a zoologist. He was noted for his contributions to research on competition between species before turning to history.

Born in Brisbane, Australia, Crombie was educated at the Anglican Church Grammar School[1] and Geelong Grammar School.[2] He studied at the universities of Melbourne and Cambridge. In the early 1950s, he taught at University College, London. In 1953, he was given a position at Oxford, as that school's first lecturer in the history of science. During Crombie's tenure at Oxford, the history of science was added to the graduate level offerings of Oxford's history faculty.[3]

During his career as a historian of science, Crombie identified thematic threads or "styles" in the development of European approaches to science. He published his ideas in 1994 in a definitive 3-volume work, entitled, Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition : The History of Argument and Explanation especially in the Mathematical and Biomedical Sciences and Arts. The main argument about six distinct styles of scientific thinking in the history of Western science was also published in the brief 1995 article Commitments and styles of European scientific thinking. During his tenure he supervised several students, including Robert Fox (Professor of the History of Science, Oxford University), David M Knight (Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, Durham University); German E Berrios (Professor of the Epistemology of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge) and Trevor Levere (Professor of the History of Science, University of Toronto).


  • Augustine to Galileo: The History of Science A.D. 400 - 1650 (Revised ed.). Penguin. 1969 [1952]. ISBN 0-14-055074-7.  (also published under the title: Medieval and Early Modern Science)
  • Robert Grossteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1953. ISBN 0-19-824189-5. 
  • Science, Optics and Music in Medieval and Early Modern Thought. London: Hambledon. 1990. ISBN 0-907628-79-6. 
  • Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition: The History of Argument and Explanation Especially in the Mathematical and Biomedical Sciences and Arts. London: Gerald Duckworth & Company. 1994. ISBN 0-7156-2439-3. 
  • "Commitments and Styles of European Scientific Thinking". History of Science 33 (2): 225–238. 1995. 


  1. ^ Mason, James (2011). Churchie: The Centenary Register. Brisbane, Australia: The Anglican Church Grammar School. ISBN 978-0-646-55807-3. 
  2. ^ Fox, Robert (March 1997). "Eloge: Alistair Cameron Crombie, 4 November 1915-9 February 1996". Isis 88 (1): 183–186. doi:10.1086/383688. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Fox, Robert (April 2003). "The History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at Oxford". History Faculty Alumni Newsletter No. 1. University of Oxford Faculty of History. Retrieved 2006-08-17.