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Book Title: Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact|
The author of the book: Ludwik Fleck
Edition: University Of Chicago Press
Date of issue: August 15th 1981
ISBN 13: 9780226253251
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.16 MB
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Originally published in German in 1935, this monograph anticipated solutions to problems of scientific progress, the truth of scientific fact and the role of error in science now associated with the work of Thomas Kuhn and others. Arguing that every scientific concept and theory—including his own—is culturally conditioned, Fleck was appreciably ahead of his time. And as Kuhn observes in his foreword, "Though much has occurred since its publication, it remains a brilliant and largely unexploited resource."
"To many scientists just as to many historians and philosophers of science facts are things that simply are the case: they are discovered through properly passive observation of natural reality. To such views Fleck replies that facts are invented, not discovered. Moreover, the appearance of scientific facts as discovered things is itself a social construction, a made thing. A work of transparent brilliance, one of the most significant contributions toward a thoroughly sociological account of scientific knowledge."—Steven Shapin, Science
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Read information about the authorLudwik Fleck (11 July 1896 – 5 June 1961) was a Polish and Israeli physician and biologist who did important work in epidemic typhus in Lwów, Poland, with Rudolf Weigl and in the 1930s developed the concept of the "Denkkollektiv" ("thought collective"). The concept of the "thought collective" is important in the philosophy of science and in logology (the "science of science"), helping to explain how scientific ideas change over time, much as in Thomas Kuhn's later notion of the "paradigm shift" and in Michel Foucault's concept of the "episteme".
Fleck wrote that the development of truth in scientific research was an unattainable ideal as different researchers were locked into thought collectives (or thought-styles). A "truth" was a relative value, expressed in the language or symbolism of the thought collective in which it belonged, and subject to the social and temporal structure of this collective. To state therefore that a specific truth is true or false is impossible. It is true in its own collective, but incomprehensible or unverifiable in most others. He felt that the development of scientific insights was not unidirectional and does not consist of just accumulating new pieces of information, but also in overthrowing the old ones. This overthrowing of old insights is difficult because a collective attains over time a specific way of investigating, bringing with it a blindness to alternative ways of observing and conceptualization. Change was especially possible when members of two thought collectives met and cooperated in observing, formulating hypothesis and ideas. He strongly advocated comparative epistemology. This approach anticipated later developments in social constructionism, and especially the development of critical science and technology studies.
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