Pegram Lecture

"Picturing Objectivity"

Presented by Peter Galison, Harvard University

Friday, November 3, 2006, 4:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium

When scientific objectivity became a goal in the early 19th century it was by no means obvious. Natural philosophers had to invert the old epistemic virtues that involved finding ideal forms that lay behind the variations of this or that individual. Where genius was, plain-sight observation came to dominate. I will here track how scientific atlases helped define the modern scientific category of mechanical objectivity-and the new quieted and transparent scientific self that necessarily accompanied it. The fate of objectivity kept turning: 20th century scientists questioned image-based, mechanical objectivity; they demanded more interpretation and modification of images than mechanical objectivity ever allowed. With that shift came a new view of the right scientific self, one now explicitly making use of intuition, expertise, and the unconscious.

Hosted by: Peter Wanderer

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