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Fleck in Context
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology.
2007 (English)In: Perspectives on Science, ISSN 1063-6145, E-ISSN 1530-9274, Vol. 15, no 1, 49-86 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since its almost serendipitous rediscovery in the late seventies, Fleck's monograph, Entstehung und Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Tatsachee, initially published in 1935, translated into English in 1979 (Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact), has been met with increasing acclaim within the philosophy and the sociology of science. In historizing, sociologizing and relativizing science, Fleck is claimed to have expressed prescient views on the history, philosophy and sociology of science and in deeply influencing Kuhn. Though the neglect of Fleck by his contemporaries has been difficult to account for, the basis of his epistemology has evoked little interest, partly due to the lack of apparent sources. Fleck's philosophical writings, published between 1927 and 1939, indicate, however, a polemic, deeply ingrained in an ongoing debate, on the standing of old established scientific disciplines versus new and emerging ones, occasioned by the rapid changes within the natural sciences. Most obvious to the lay community, and also reflected in the new positivist philosophy, were the revolutionary changes within physics. As a participant in the debate, eagerly striving for recognition, Fleck used modern physic heuristically as the basis of his epistemology. The tracing of his sources, and the voices of other contemporaneous scientists opposing his views, are attempted.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 15, no 1, 49-86 p.
National Category
Philosophy History of Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6681DOI: 10.1162/posc.2007.15.1.49Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-34548738966OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-6681DiVA: diva2:11458
Note
QC 20100826Available from: 2006-12-22 Created: 2006-12-22 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Reading fleck: Questions on philosophy and science
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reading fleck: Questions on philosophy and science
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The present thesis is based on a scientifically-informed, contextualized and historicized reading of Ludwik Fleck. In addition to his monograph, the material studied includes his additional philosophical writings, his internationally-published scientific articles and two, thus-far-unstudied postwar Polish papers related to his Buchenwald experiences. The sources provided by Fleck have been traced back to the time of their origin. Based on the above material, it is argued that, rather than relativizing science and deeply influencing Kuhn, Fleck, attempting to participate in the current debates, is an ardent proponent of science, offering an internal account of its pursuit that accords with his oft-contested epistemic concepts, e.g., Denkzwang, Sinnsehen and Kopplungen. The exposure of his description of the Wassermann reaction discloses a highly selective reading of the sources available at the time, but also reveals its relation to the current debate on Einzelwissenschaften, or the standing of new emerging disciplines versus age-old ones, all occasioned by the remarkable progress of science that has also affected philosophy. The divide between philosophers and scientists on the philosophical implications of modern physics is exposed, as is Fleck’s heuristic use of the latter topic in his epistemology. A more realistic account of his often-valued scientific accomplishments is provided. It is argued that the modern interpretation or received humanist view of Fleck is based on the opposition, at the time Fleck’s monograph was rediscovered, of STS writers to a scientifically-informed reading of his texts. An additional corrective to the received view of Fleck is found in some of his postwar Polish papers related his Buchenwald experiences. The latter might also provide an answer to some of the contradictions inherent in the modern mythology surrounding Fleck. In amply exposing the precarious situation of the time, and the complexity of the ethical issues at stake, Fleck’s papers in fact generate age-old philosophical questions still worth contemplating.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2006. 26 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831
Keyword
Ludwik Fleck, Wassermann reaction, Informed consent, Buchenwald studies, Human experimentation
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4250 (URN)91-7178-471-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-01-15, Sal F3, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100826Available from: 2006-12-22 Created: 2006-12-22 Last updated: 2010-08-26Bibliographically approved
2. The reading of Ludwig Fleck sources and context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The reading of Ludwig Fleck sources and context
2005 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The present thesis is based on a scientifically informed reading of Fleck. In addition to the monograph, the material includes his additional philosophical writings and also his internationally published scientific articles. The sources provided by Fleck have been traced back to the time of their origin. Based on the above material, it is argued that rather than relativizing science, and thereby deeply influencing Kuhn, Fleck, attempting to participate in the current debates, is an ardent proponent of science, offering an internal account of its pursuit that accords with his often-contested epistemic concepts. The exposure of his description of the Wassermann reaction discloses a highly selected reading of the, at the time, available sources, but also its relation to the current debate on Einzelwissenschaften, or the standing of new emerging disciplines versus age-old ones, all occasioned by the remarkable progress of science that also affected philosophy. The divide between philosophers and scientists on the philosophical implications of modern physics is exposed as well as Fleck’s heuristic use of the latter topic in his epistemology. A more realistic account of his scientific accomplishment is provided that includes the unfeasibility of the manufacturing of an anti-typhus vaccine based on urine. It is finally argued that the modern interpretation, or the received humanist view of Fleck, is based on the, at the time of the rediscovery of the monograph, already endorsed program of STS writers opposing a scientifically informed reading of his texts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2005. 21 p.
Keyword
Ludwig Fleck, Wassermann reaction, thought style, Denkstil
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-611 (URN)91-7178-158-7 (ISBN)
Supervisors
Note
QC 20101130Available from: 2006-02-08 Created: 2006-02-08 Last updated: 2010-11-30Bibliographically approved

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