Netting Truth: Ludwik Fleck's Constructivist Genealogy

Barbara Herrnstein Smith

in Scandalous Knowledge

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620234
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671670 | DOI:
Netting Truth: Ludwik Fleck's Constructivist Genealogy

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Noting the problematic status of standard realist notions of truth as correspondence to an autonomous reality, the chapter describes the radical reconceptualizations of truth, knowledge, scientific method and scientific progress developed by Ludwik Fleck in his influential socio-historical study, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (1935). Discussed in detail are Fleck's ideas of thought styles, thought collectives, “the harmony of illusions” and the tenacity of belief systems. The crucial ontological/epistemological implication of Fleck's work, as of constructivist science studies more generally, is not that there is no external reality; it is, rather, that the specific features of what we interact with as reality are not prior to or independent of those interactions but emerge and acquire their specificity through them. Fleck's accounts of the formation and stabilization of scientific knowledge are instructively compared with those of Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Michel Foucault and Bruno Latour.

Keywords: truth; reality; Ludwik Fleck; scientific knowledge; epistemology; ontology; constructivism; realism; science studies

Chapter.  16775 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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