On Historicizing Epistemology
Epistemology, as generally understood by philosophers of science, is rather remote from the history of science and from historical concerns in general. Rheinberger shows that, from the late nineteenth through the late twentieth century, a parallel, alternative discourse sought to come to terms with the rather fundamental experience of the thoroughgoing scientific changes brought on by the revolution in physics. Philosophers of science and historians of science alike contributed their share to what this essay describes as an ongoing quest to historicize epistemology. Historical epistemology, in this sense, is not so concerned with the knowing subject and its mental capacities. Rather, it envisages science as an ongoing cultural endeavor and tries to assess the conditions under which the sciences in all their diversity take shape and change over time.
An Epistemology of the Concrete
An Epistemology of the Concrete brings together case studies and theoretical reflections on the history and epistemology of the life sciences by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, one of the world’s foremost philosophers of science. In these essays, he examines the history of experiments, concepts, model organisms, instruments, and the gamut of epistemological, institutional, political, and social factors that determine the actual course of the development of knowledge. Building on ideas from his influential book Toward a History of Epistemic Things, Rheinberger first considers ways of historicizing scientific knowledge, and then explores different configurations of genetic experimentation in the first half of the twentieth century and the interaction between apparatuses, experiments, and concept formation in molecular biology in the second half of the twentieth century. He delves into fundamental epistemological issues bearing on the relationship between instruments and objects of knowledge, laboratory preparations as a special class of epistemic objects, and the note-taking and write-up techniques used in research labs. He takes up topics ranging from the French “historical epistemologists” Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem to the liquid scintillation counter, a radioactivity measuring device that became a crucial tool for molecular biology and biomedicine in the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout An Epistemology of the Concrete, Rheinberger shows how assemblages—historical conjunctures—set the conditions for the emergence of epistemic novelty, and he conveys the fascination of scientific things: those organisms, spaces, apparatuses, and techniques that are transformed by research and that transform research in turn.
Historical epistemology and the making of modern Chinese medicine
This collection expands the history of Chinese medicine by bridging the philosophical concerns of epistemology and the history and cultural politics of transregional medical formations. Topics range from the spread of gingko's popularity from East Asia to the West to the appeal of acupuncture for complementing in-vitro fertilisation regimens, from the modernisation of Chinese anatomy and forensic science to the evolving perceptions of the clinical efficacy of Chinese medicine. The individual essays cohere around the powerful theoretical-methodological approach, historical epistemology, with which scholars in science studies have already challenged the seemingly constant and timeless status of such rudimentary but pivotal dimensions of scientific process as knowledge, reason, argument, objectivity, evidence, fact and truth. Yet given that landmark studies in historical epistemology rarely navigate outside the intellectual landscape of Western science and medicine, this book broadens our understanding of its application and significance by drawing on and exploring the rich cultures of Chinese medicine. In studying the globalising role of medical objects, the contested premise of medical authority and legitimacy, and the syncretic transformations of metaphysical and ontological knowledge, contributors illuminate how the breadth of the historical study of Chinese medicine and its practices of knowledge-making in the modern period must be at once philosophical and transnational in scope. This book will appeal to students and scholars working in science studies and medical humanities as well as readers who are interested in the broader problems of translation, material culture and the global circulation of knowledge.
This volume contains contributions to the "systematic study of knowledge." They suggest both an extension and a new path for classical epistemology. The topics in the first volume are the following: concepts and forms of knowledge, epistemic perspectivism, knowledge and world-views, perceptual knowledge, scientific knowledge, models in science, distributed and integrated knowledge, interaction of forms of knowledge, and relation between forms of knowledge and forms of representation.
The Frontiers of Ancient Science
Our understanding of science, mathematics, and medicine today can be deeply enriched by studying the historical roots of these areas of inquiry in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. The present volume brings together contributions from more than thirty of the most important scholars working in these fields in the United States and Europe in honor of the eminent historian of ancient science and medicine Heinrich von Staden.
New Directions in the Philosophy of Science
This volume sheds light on still unexplored issues and raises new questions in the main areas addressed by the philosophy of science. Bringing together selected papers from three main events, the book presents the most advanced scientific results in the field and suggests innovative lines for further investigation. It explores how discussions on several notions of the philosophy of science can help different scientific disciplines in learning from each other. Finally, it focuses on the relationship between Cambridge and Vienna in twentieth century philosophy of science. The areas examined in the book are: formal methods, the philosophy of the natural and life sciences, the cultural and social sciences, the physical sciences and the history of the philosophy of science.
Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
Volume 35A of Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology features a symposium on historical epistemology. An internationally renowned cast of contributors offers a variety of perspectives on one of the major approaches in empirical philosophy of science and the historiography of economic thought.
Through readings of iconic figures such as the cannibal, the child, the alien, and the posthuman, Gabriele Schwab unpacks literary explorations at the boundaries of the human. Treating literature as a dynamic process that “writes culture,” makes the abstract particular and local, and situates us within the world, she pioneers a compelling approach to analyzing literary texts and their production of meaning, knowledge, and society. Schwab’s interdisciplinary study draws on anthropology, philosophy, critical theory, and psychoanalysis to trace literature’s profound impact on the cultural imaginary. Following a new interpretation of Derrida’s and Levi-Strauss’s famous controversy over the indigenous Nambikwara, Schwab develops readings of imaginary encounters between east and west in the novels of Pearl S. Buck, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and Ulrike Ottinger’s film Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia (1989). She examines the portrayal of sexual capture and cannibalism in Juan José Saer’s The Witness and Marianne Wiggins’ John Dollar; the anxiety over the fate of children in Richard Powers’ futuristic Operation Wandering Soul; the representation of personhood, agency, and power in Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis; and the fascination with primitivism and the cultural other in Franz Kafka’s “The Wish to Be a Red Indian,” and Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Yellow Woman.” Schwab concludes with an exploration of discourses on the posthuman, using Samuel Beckett’s “The Lost Ones” and its imagining of a future lived under the conditions of minimal life. Consulting a wide range of critical theories, Schwab engages the productive intersections between literary studies and anthropology and remakes our understanding of the power of literature to shape culture, subjectivity, and life.
This book explores the socio-political implications of human heredity from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present postgenomic moment. It addresses three main phases in the politicization of heredity: the peak of radical eugenics (1900-1945), characterized by an aggressive ethos of supporting the transformation of human society via biological knowledge; the repositioning, after 1945, of biological thinking into a liberal-democratic, human rights framework; and the present postgenomic crisis in which the genome can no longer be understood as insulated from environmental signals. In Political Biology, Maurizio Meloni argues that thanks to the ascendancy of epigenetics we may be witnessing a return to soft heredity - the idea that these signals can cause changes in biology that are themselves transferable to succeeding generations. This book will be of great interest to scholars across science and technology studies, the philosophy and history of science, and political and social theory.
Writings on Medicine
At the time of his death in 1995, Georges Canguilhem was a highly respected historian of science and medicine, whose engagement with questions of normality, the ideologization of scientific thought, and the conceptual history of biology had marked the thought of philosophers such as Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu, and Gilles Deleuze. This collection of short, incisive, and highly accessible essays on the major concepts of modern medicine shows Canguilhem at the peak of his use of historical practice for philosophical engagement. In order to elaborate a philosophy of medicine, Canguilhem examines paramount problems such as the definition and uses of health, the decline of the Hippocratic understanding of nature, the experience of disease, the limits of psychology in medicine, myths and realities of therapeutic practices, the difference between cure and healing, the organism's self-regulation, and medical metaphors linking the organism to society. Writings on Medicine is at once an excellent introduction to Canguilhem's work and a forceful, insightful, and accessible engagement with elemental concepts in medicine. The book is certain to leave its imprint on anthropology, history, philosophy, bioethics, and the social studies of medicine.