- Series: Objectivity
- Hardcover: 501 pages
- Publisher: Zone; 1 edition (September 28, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1890951781
- ISBN-13: 978-1890951788
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Objectivity 1st Edition
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"This richly illustrated book deeply renews the meaning of accurate reproduction by showing how many ways there have been to be 'true to nature.' Art, science, and reproduction techniques are merged to show that 'things in themselves' can be presented with their vast and beautiful company. This splendid book will be for many years the ultimate compendium on the joint history of objectivity and visualization." -- Bruno Latour, author of Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy(Bruno Latour )
"As Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison point out in their capacious and engaging study of the concept of scientific objectivity from the 17th century to the present day, the universal form is key to understanding how modern science moved from the study of curiosities, through the representations of perfect, notional specimens, to a concept of objectivity as responsibility for science." Brian Dillon Modern Painters
"The author's argument here is complicated but fascinating (and, because the argument is about images, the book is beautiful)." Science
"This is a surprising, engrossing book that treats humanity's struggle to unsnarl the world and itself as a field of endless turmoil and fascination." Rain Taxi
"We need history of science in the style of Daston and Galison: a history of science that commands the details but at the same time discerns the shape of larger developmentsand that makes us realize just how many meanings have been packed into the little word 'objectivity,' which rolls so trippingly off the tongue." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
About the Author
Peter Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. He is the author of Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps: Empires of Time, How Experiments End, and Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics, among other books, and coeditor (with Emily Thompson) of The Architecture of Science (MIT Press, 1999).
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In sum, the book covers three major movements in the institution of science regarding notions of truth and representation. The idea of scientific objectivity is actually a very recent phenomenon. What we usually forget is that the community and historical institution of research science has always been a SOCIAL phenomenon, and thus subject to change over time that reflects the evolving relationship between human actors and their understanding of the world. Objectivity, in the sense of removing the inherent error in human subjectivity and observation from the process of scientific judgement, has not always been a part of the way the scientific community approaches data. It only arose around the invention of the film camera, which allowed scientists to slow down and capture moments of phenomena that occurred too quickly for the human eye to observe in process. As a consequence, the scientific community began to move away from idealized renderings of the natural world and move towards mechanical observation using scientific instruments. Over time, scientists found drawbacks to the purely mechanical approach to observation, moving towards another hybrid view that privileged scientific judgement instead.
What I would encourage you to take away from a reading of this book is three-fold. First is the understanding that science, as a SOCIAL entity, constantly innovates and refines through social consensus its philosophical understanding of the human relationship to a notion of truth and the means by which that truth might be accessed. This process is ongoing and never completely settled, because the community must debate and vet these positions through years and even generations of debate. Secondly, as a media studies scholar, I would point out the fundamental relationship between the notion of "objectivity" and its dependence on mechanical media to validate the discursive expunging of the subject from the act of observation. This is really, really key. This particular formation between the object, the observing subject (who nonetheless continues to be part of the observation whether or not the instrument is present), and the mechanical instrument through which we find different means of accessing (or constructing) the object represents a new trifecta in our relations with the world. And thirdly, it must be emphasized that the shifting popularity of the three positions or formations of the truth-and-representation paradigms DOES NOT indicate progress. Not only do all three of these paradigms STILL PERSIST, but they continue to operate in the laboratory in tandem, used to this day in different combinations and for different discursive aims. We have not left any of these positions behind, but rather accumulate them into the present.
In sum, I find this volume to be a fantastic good read. The historical evidence is rigorous and the analysis delightful. It really is an accomplishment in historical writing that is thoughtfully grounded in the material dimensions of scientific thinking.
18th century (classical) "four-eyed" sight -- truth-to-nature depiction;
19th century "blind" sight of mechanical objectivity;
20th century "physiognomic" sight of "trained" judgment;
where the first three give way to "haptic" sight by means of image-as-tool, inseparable from the scientific-self, made visible to the acolyte:
--subject to simulated manipulations
--machine-generated virtual artifact, expertly extracted from an artificial reality -- a model
--altered in aspect, hue, or scale to make it artistically pleasing
--no longer held to be a copy
--the True and Beautiful necessarily converging for the sake of presentation -- not representation
--deliberately enhanced to clarify, persuade, and/or please.
Daston is the new Mary Hesse.