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The Invention of Modern Science

2000
Author:

Isabelle Stengers
Translated by Daniel W. Smith

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A proposal for better understanding the nature of scientific endeavor from a major European thinker.

The Invention of Modern Science proposes a fruitful way of going beyond the apparently irreconcilable positions, that science is either "objective" or "socially constructed." Instead, suggests Isabelle Stengers, one of the most important and influential philosophers of science in Europe, we might understand the tension between scientific objectivity and belief as a necessary part of science, central to the practices invented and reinvented by scientists.

Stengers has chosen to look for a touchstone distinguishing good science from bad not in epistemology but in ontology, not in the word but in the world.

Bruno Latour

The so-called exact sciences have always claimed to be different from other forms of knowledge. How are we to evaluate this assertion? Should we try to identify the criteria that seem to justify it? Or, following the new model of the social study of the sciences, should we view it as a simple belief? The Invention of Modern Science proposes a fruitful way of going beyond these apparently irreconcilable positions, that science is either "objective" or "socially constructed." Instead, suggests Isabelle Stengers, one of the most important and influential philosophers of science in Europe, we might understand the tension between scientific objectivity and belief as a necessary part of science, central to the practices invented and reinvented by scientists.

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Isabelle Stengers is associate professor of philosophy at the Free University of Brussels. She received the grand prize for philosophy from the Académie Française in 1993, and is the author of numerous books, including Power and Invention (Minnesota, 1997).

Daniel W. Smith has translated many books, including several works by the philosopher Gilles Deleuze.

Book Default Image

Stengers has chosen to look for a touchstone distinguishing good science from bad not in epistemology but in ontology, not in the word but in the world.

Bruno Latour

The Invention of Modern Science proposes a fruitful way of going beyond these apparently irreconcilable positions, that science is either 'objective' or 'socially constructed.' Instead, suggests Isabelle Stengers, one of the most influential philosophers of science in Europe, we might understand the tension between scientific objectivity and belief as a necessary part of science, central to the practices invented and reinvented by scientists.

Translation Review

"This isn’t another postmodern, boneheaded argument that there is no such thing as objective truth, but instead is a carefully considered discussion of the question ‘The truth about what in the service of what?’" Techdirections

A philosophically informed analysis of the nature of scientific knowledge.

Contemporary Sociology