Twentieth-Century Histories of Life
Readers will find that the overarching theme of the text is that scientific knowledge is not simply the result of a series of advances in which one pays forward into the next like a row of falling dominos. It is an emergent property of a nonlinear process involving a complex interplay of history, culture, and the scientific process. Rheinbergers case studies present science as a productive enterprise with measurable outcomes such as conceptual models, experimental organisms, and instrumentation. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. - J. A. Hewlett, Choice An Epistemology of the Concrete offers a methodological framework and a set of research exemplars that will shape science studies for years to come.Tim Lenoir, from the foreword In this empirical and conceptual tour de force, Hans-Jrg Rheinberger provides an examination of the work of key twentieth-century epistemologists, rigorous historical vignettes of model-organism research, a materialist epistemology of experimental biology, and, consequently, a carefully precise yet broadly illuminating theorization of modes of knowledge production. An Epistemology of the Concrete is a major contribution not only to the history of science but also to fields such as anthropology, which are turning to epistemological analyses of the life sciences as a key site of inquiry.Kaushik Sunder Rajan, author of Biocapital: The Constitution of Postgenomic Life Hans-Jrg Rheinberger has played a prominent role in bringing those strands of thinking together, thus pioneering an integrated approach to the history and the philosophy of science and, most importantly, illuminating several long-standing philosophical debates with profound, creative and scientifically informed insights on the nature of experimental work. Within this wonderful volume, Rheinberger uses his understanding of the history of biology and his experience as a practising experimenter to build a sophisticated epistemology of scientific practice. -- Sabina Leonelli * International Studies in the Philosophy of Science * The reader will learn a great deal from Rheinbergers essays on the scholars whom he sees as crucial in order to conceive of scientific knowledge as inherently historical, social, and concrete. The reader will also find an answer to what is historical epistemology today, or at least one version of it, both in theoretical terms and through case studies that show how a historical epistemological perspective enables the epistemologist, historian, and sociologist to read scientific activity. -- Christina Chimisso * Radical Philosophy * Readers will find that the overarching theme of the text is that scientific knowledge is not simply the result of a series of advances in which one pays forward into the next like a row of falling dominos. It is an emergent property of a nonlinear process involving a complex interplay of history, culture, and the scientific process. Rheinbergers case studies present science as a productive enterprise with measurable outcomes such as conceptual models, experimental organisms, and instrumentation. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- J. A. Hewlett * Choice *
Hans-Jrg Rheinberger is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. He is the author of On Historicizing Epistemology: An Essay and Toward a History of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube.
Illustrations vii Foreword / Tim Lenoir xi Prologue 1 Part I. Historical Epistemology 1. Ludwik Fleck, Edmond Husserl: On the Historicity of Scientific Knowledge 13 2. Gaston Bachelard: The Concept of "Phenomenotechnique" 25 3. Georges Canguilhem: Epistemological History 37 Part II. Model Organisms: Studies in the History of Heredity and Reproduction 4. Pisum: Carl Carren's Experiments on Xenia, 189699 51 5. Eudorina: Max Hartmann's Experiments on Biological Regulation in Protozoa, 191421 82 6. Ephistia: Alfred Khn's Experimental Design for a Developmental Physiological Genetics, 192445 94 7. Tobacco Mosaic Virus: Virus Research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes for Biochemistry and Biology, 193745 128 Part III. Concepts and Instruments: Studies in the History of Molecular Biology 8. The Concept of the Gene: Molecular Biological Perspectives 153 9. The Liquid Scintillation Counter: Traces of Radioactivity 170 10. The Concept of Information 203 Part IV. Epistemic Configurations 11. Intersections 217 12. Preparations 233 13. The Economy of the Scribble 244 Acknowledgments 253 Abbreviations 255 Notes 257 Bibliography 289 Index 321