Biographies of Scientific Objects by Lorraine Daston

By Lorraine Daston

Why does an item or phenomenon develop into the topic of clinical inquiry? Why do a little of those gadgets stay provocative, whereas others fade from heart degree? And why do gadgets occasionally go back because the concentration of analysis lengthy once they have been as soon as abandoned?

Addressing such questions, Biographies of clinical items is ready how entire domain names of phenomena—dreams, atoms, monsters, tradition, society, mortality, facilities of gravity, worth, cytoplasmic debris, the self, tuberculosis—come into being and infrequently go away as gadgets of medical research. With examples drawn from either the usual and social sciences, and varying from the 16th to the 20 th centuries, this publication explores the ways that clinical items are either actual and old. no matter if came upon or invented, those gadgets of inquiry increase and deepen in meaning—growing extra "real"—as they turn into entangled in webs of cultural value, fabric practices, and theoretical derivations. therefore their biographies will topic to a person focused on the formation of medical knowledge.

Contributors are Jed Z. Buchwald, Lorraine Daston, Rivka Feldhay, Jan Goldstein, Gerard Jorland, Doris Kauffman, Bruno Latour, Theodore M. Porter, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Marshall Sahlins, and Peter Wagner.

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Descartes, Les passions de /'arne [1649], ed. Genevieve Rodis-Lewis (Paris: Librairie Vrin, 1955), art. l19. 65. , art. 118. 66. Cardano, De svbtilitate, 342. 67. , The Arcimboldo Effect: Transformations of the Face from the 16th to the 20th Century (New York: Abbeville Press, 1987), 172. 68. Letter to Belisario Vinta, 1610, quoted in Discoveries and Opinions of Ga/ileo, trans. and ed. Stillman Drake (Garden City: Doubleday Anchor, 1957), 62. On Galileo as purveyor of marvels, see also Mario Biagioli, "Galileo the Emblem Maker," Isis 81 (1990): 230-58, at 24143.

Art. 118. 66. Cardano, De svbtilitate, 342. 67. , The Arcimboldo Effect: Transformations of the Face from the 16th to the 20th Century (New York: Abbeville Press, 1987), 172. 68. Letter to Belisario Vinta, 1610, quoted in Discoveries and Opinions of Ga/ileo, trans. and ed. Stillman Drake (Garden City: Doubleday Anchor, 1957), 62. On Galileo as purveyor of marvels, see also Mario Biagioli, "Galileo the Emblem Maker," Isis 81 (1990): 230-58, at 24143. 32 L 0 R RAIN E D AS T 0 N with wonders was a form of courtly competition, particularly at weddings and coronations when ambassadors and visiting potentates would be in attendance.

78 Within this hierarchy of things and forces, preternatural philosophers restricted their attention to the "most excellent" and "noblest" exemplars among animals, vegetables, and minerals. That which was worthy of wonder (Latin admiratio) was, etymologically and emotionally for Latinate writers, also worthy of admiration, and hence belonged to nature's nobility. Like the marvels purveyed by the Wunderkammer or the princely fete, the objects of preternatural philosophy pleased by their very remoteness from the vulgar and shopworn: "For things rare and unusual ...

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