Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-dnltx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-15T11:35:00.827Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Experimental Systems: Historiality, Narration, and Deconstruction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Hans-Jörg Reinberger
Affiliation:
Institute for the History of Medicine and Science University of Lübeck

Abstract

In the first part of this paper, issues concerning an “epistemology of time” are raised. The Derridean theme of the historial movement of a trace is connected to Prigogine's notion of an operator-time. It is suggested that both conceptions can be used to characterize the dynamics of experimental systems in contemporary science. It is argued that such systems have, to speak with Hacking, “a life of their own” and that this is precisely the reason for their inherent unpredictability.

In the second part, a case from the history of virology and cytomorphology is presented. The movement of a particular experimental system is followed in its peculiar tension between deferring and becoming different—i.e., between the persistence of a problem and the vagaries of its successive transformations. They are rendered possible by novel technical implementations, but they are not determined in any meaningful sense on a mere technological level.

In conclusion, a point is made for a deconstructive approach to the history of science.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1994

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Aithusser, Louis. [1967] 1974. Philosophie etphilosophie spontanée des savants. Paris: Editions Ia Découverte.Google Scholar
Aithusser, Louis, and Balibar, Etienne. 1968. Lirele Capital, vol. 1. Paris: Maspero.Google Scholar
Avery, Oswald T., MacLeod, Colin M., and McCarty, Maclyn. 1944. “Induction of Transformation by a Desoxyribonucleic Acid Fraction Isolated from Pneumo coccus Type III.” Journal of Experimental Medicine 79: 137–58.Google Scholar
Bachelard, Gaston. [1934] 1984. The New Scientific Spirit. Translated by Goldhammer, A.. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
Bernard, Claude. [1878] 1966. Leçons sur les phénomènes de la vie communs aux animaux et aux végétaux. Reprint of the 2nd. ed. Paris: Vrin.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brachet, Jean. 1941. “La détection histochimique et le microdosage des acides pentosenucléiques.” Enzymologia 10:8796.Google Scholar
Canguilhem, Georges. [1963] 1975. “L'Histoire des sciences dans l'oeuvre episté-mologique de Gaston Bachelard.” In his Etudes d'histoire et dephilosophie des sciences, 173–86. Paris: Vrin.Google Scholar
Caspersson, Torbjörn. 1941. “Studien über den Eiweissumsatz der Zelle.” Natur wissenschaften 29: 3343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Claude, Albert. 1935. “Properties of the Causative Agent of a Chicken Tumor. XI: Chemical Composition of Purified Chicken Tumor Extracts Containing the Active Principle.” Journal of Experimental Medicine 61:4157.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Claude, Albert. 1938a. “Concentration and Purification of Chicken Tumor I Agent.” Science 87:467–68.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Claude, Albert. 1938b. “A Fraction from Normal Chick Embryo Similar to the Tumor-Producing Fraction of Chicken Tumor I.” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 39:398403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Claude, Albert 1939. “Chemical Composition of the Tumor-Producing Fraction of Chicken Tumor I.” Science 90:213–14.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Claude, Albert. 1941. “Particulate Components of the Cytoplasm.” Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology 9: 263–71.Google Scholar
Claude, Albert. 1943. “Distribution of Nucleic Acids in the Cell and the Morphological Constitution of Cytoplasm.” Biological Symposia 10: 111–29.Google Scholar
Claude, Albert. 1950. “Studies on Cells: Morphology, Chemical.Constitution and. Distribution of Biochemical Function.” The Harvey Lectures 1947–48 43:121–64.Google Scholar
Claude, Albert. 1975. “The Coming of Age of the Cell.” Science 189:433–35.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Claude, Albert, and Fullam, Ernest. 1945. “An Electron Microscope Study of Isolated Mitochondria: Method and Preliminary Results.” Journal of Experimental Medicine 81:5161.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Claude, Albert, Porter, Keith R., and Pickels, Edward G.. 1947. “Electron Microscope Study of Chicken Tumor Cells.” Cancer Research 7:421–30.Google Scholar
Derrida, Jacques. [1968] 1972. “La différance.” In his Marges de laphilosophie, 1–29. Paris: Editions de minuit.Google Scholar
Derrida, Jacques. [1967] 1976. Of Grammatology. Translated by Spivak, G. C.. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Derrida, Jacques. [1972] 1982. Dissemination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Derrida, Jacques. 1991. “Une ‘folie’ doit veiller sur la pensée.” Interview with François Ewald. Magazine littéraire 286 (March):1830.Google Scholar
Fischer, Ernst Peter. 1988. Das Atom des Biologen: Max Delbrück und der Ursprung der Molekulargenetik. Munich: Piper.Google Scholar
Fleck, Ludwik. [1935] 1979. Genesis and Development of a Scient Fact. Translated by Bradley, F. and Tenn, T. J.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Foucault, Michel. 1972. L'Ordre du discours. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. [1810] 1957. “Materialien zur Geschichte der Farben lehre.” In Die Schr zur Naturwissenschaft. Part One, Texts vol. 6, edited by Kuhn, Dorothea. Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger.Google Scholar
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. [1833] 1982. “Maximen und Reflexionen”. In Werke (Hamburg edition), vol. 12, 365547. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag.Google Scholar
Griffith, Fred. 1928. “The Significance of Pneumococcal Types.” Journal of Hygiene 27:113–59.Google Scholar
Jacob, Francois. [1981] 1982. The Possible and the Actual. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
Jacob, Francois. 1988. The Statue Within:An Autobiography. Translated by Philip, F.. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Kay, Lily. 1986. “Stanley's Crystallization of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.” Isis 77: 450–72.Google Scholar
Kohier, Robert. 1991. “Systems of Production: Drosophila, Neurospora. and Biochemical Genetics.” Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 22:87130.Google Scholar
Kubler, George. 1962. The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Kuhn, Thomas S. [1962] 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago:University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Kuhn, Thomas S. 1979. The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scient Tradition and Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Kuhn, Thomas S. 1992. The Trouble with the Historical Philosophy of Science. An Occasional Publication of the Department of the History of Science. Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Latour, Bruno. 1987. Science in Action. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Ledingham, J. C. G., and Gye, W. E.. 1935. “On the Nature of the Filterable Tumour-Exciting Agent in Avian Sarcomata.” Lancet 228 I:376–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Löwy, Ilana. 1990. “Variances in Meaning in Discovery Accounts: The Case of Contemporary Biology.” Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 21:87121.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lwoff, André. 1957. “The Concept of Virus.” Journal of General Microbiology 17:239–53.Google Scholar
McIntosh, James. 1935. “The Sedimentation of the Virus of Rous Sarcoma and the Bacteriophage by a High-Speed Centrifuge.” Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology 41:215–17.Google Scholar
Murphy, James B. 1931. “Discussion of Some Properties of the Causative Agent of a Chicken Tumor.” Transactions of the Association ofAmerican Physicians 46:182–87.Google Scholar
Murphy, James B., Helmer, Oscar M. and Sturm, Ernest. 1928. “Association of the Causative Agent of a Chicken Tumor with the Protein Fraction of the Tumor Filtrate.” Science 68:1819.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Porter, Keith R. 1974. “The 1974 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.” Science 186: 516–18.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Prigogine, Ilya and Stengers, Isabelle. 1988.Entre le temps el l'éternité. Paris:Fayard.Google Scholar
Rasmussen, Nicolas. 1993. “Mitochondrial Structure and the Practice of Cell Biology in the 1950s.” Manuscript.Google Scholar
Rheinberger, Hans-Joörg. 1992a. “Experiment Difference. and Writing. I: Tracing Protein Synthesis” and “II: The Laboratory Production of Transfer RNA.” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 23:305–31, 389422.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rheinberger, Hans–Joörg. 1992b. Experiment, Differenz, Schrjft. Marburg: Basiliskenpresse.Google Scholar
Rheinberger, Hans–Joörg. In press. “From Microsomes to Ribosomes: ‘Strategies’ of ‘Representation’ 1930–1955.” Journal of the History of Biology 27.Google Scholar
Rous, Peyton. 1910. “A Transmissible Avian Neoplasm (Sarcoma of the Common Fowl).” Journal of Experimental Medicine 12:696705.Google Scholar
Rous, Peyton. 1911. “A Sarcoma of Fowl Transmissible by an Agent Separable from Tumor Cells.” Journal of Experimental Medicine 13:397411.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rous, Peyton. 1967. “The Challenge to Man of the Neoplastic Cell.” Science 157:2428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stanley, Wendell M. 1935. “Isolation of Crystalline Protein Possessing the Prop erties of the Tobacco-Mosaic Virus.” Science 81:644–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Turnbull, David, and Stokes, Terry. 1990. “Manipulable Systems and Laboratory Strategies in a Biomedical Institute.” In Experimental Inquiries edited by Le Grand, H. E., 167–92. Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weinberg, R. A. 1987. “Cellular Oncogenes.” In Oncogenes and Growth Factors, edited.by Bradshaw, R. A. and Prentis, S., 1116. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
White, Hayden. 1980. “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality.” In On Narrative edited.by Mitchell, W. J. T., 123. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar