Legacies of Ludwik Fleck

Krzysztof Abriszewski (Nicolaus Copernicus University)
C. Humanisticum AB 2.07
Start time:
17 September, 2014 at 10:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Long abstract:

Ludwik Fleck, a Polish-Jewish bacteriologist, philosopher, and historian of science and medicine, survived the Holocaust and worked as a professor of microbiology in Warsaw after WW II. He died four years after his emigration in Israel. Today he is famous for his book on the making of scientific facts. He chose to write in German--the "lingua franca" of philosophy at that time--and he produced a witty and smart polemic against the "wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung" (the scientific world view) of the Vienna Circle and logical empiricism: instead of striving for context-free and emotionless thinking he emphasized the complexity of "thought styles" and their multiple realities. Our interdisciplinary panel will discuss the extraordinary afterlives of Fleck's book: his "discovery" by one of its first and most influential English speaking readers, Thomas Kuhn, the difficulties of its translation, its probable impact on radical and social constructivism (a term Fleck was probably not familiar with during his lifetime), and the contradictory assessments of his impact on Science and Technology Studies. While Jon Harwood argued in 1986 that Fleck can only be of historical interest without any impact on the sociology of knowledge, Bruno Latour claimed in 2008 that Fleck's insights - even after 30 years of science studies - are still radical and revolutionary "still very far in the future". We want to discuss Ludwik Fleck's multiple afterlives from historical, sociological, philological, and philosophical perspectives, wondering how many future lives there are yet to come. The papers will be presented in the order shown and within one session