On Historicizing Epistemology: An Essay

On Historicizing Epistemology: An Essay

On Historicizing Epistemology: An Essay

On Historicizing Epistemology: An Essay

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

This essay is based on the readings of two seminars held in the winter semesters of 2005–6 and 2006–7 at the technical University of Berlin. A first draft of the essay was written in the spring of 2006. An invitation of Rüdiger Campe from the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, allowed me to finish it in the spring of 2007. The original impulse for this book, a number of years ago, I owe to Jean-Paul Gaudillière. My thanks go to Henning Schmidgen for his critical reading of the first manuscript; to the translator, David Fernbach; and to the copy editor, Andrew Frisardi, of Stanford University Press.

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