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Disseminating quality controlled scientific knowledge

Wizualizacja i poznanie: zrysowywanie rzeczy razem

Author(s): Bruno Latour

Journal: Avant : Journal of Philosophical-Interdisciplinary Vanguard
ISSN 2082-7598

Volume: 3;
Issue: T/2012;
Start page: 207;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: druk | inskrypcja | mobilizowanie | nauka | niezmienne mobilne czynniki | pismo | Wielka Dychotomia | wizualizacja

The author of the present paper argues that while trying to explain the institutional success of the science and its broad social impact, it is worth throwing aside the arguments concerning the universal traits of human nature, changes in the human mentality, or transformation of the culture and civilization, such as the development of capitalism or bureaucratic power. In the 16th century no new man emerged, and no mutants with overgrown brains work in modern laboratories. So one must also reject the Great Divide between the cultures of the scientific and pre-scientific and replace it with multiple, uncertain and unexpected ‘not-so-great divides’, which can be described in meticulous anthropological studies. Although the achievements of science are certainly spectacular, and the gap between scientific practice and other areas of activity is so obvious, this does not mean that one must look for the "great" reasons behind this situation. One should rather focus on quite down-to-earth practices and tools used by scientists. A significant part of their activities can be described by referring to the craft of writing, reading and transforming of various types of inscriptions (records), and broadly understood visualization – their combining, performing, interpreting, confronting, comparing, shifting, shuffling etc. The important role of these tools and methods is especially visible in situations of scientific controversy. It is so because scientific controversies are won by the one able to muster on the spot the largest number of well aligned and faithful allies, and the technology of writing, printing and visualizing play a special role in mobilizing them. These are necessary to ensure that certain factors can be mobile – easy to move from place to place, and yet, immutable – not undergoing deformation as a result of the movement. This way, scientists are able to not only diffuse different types of factors relevant to the dispute and the process of constituting science, but also concentrate them in the centers of calculation, where, through accumulation, one can take actions not available elsewhere.
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