Blog: Frans van Lunteren about “Mediating Machines: a Proposal for a Big Picture of the History of Science” (via Shells and Pebbles)

Over the last few decades there have been several calls for a ‘big picture’ of the history of science. The gradual fragmentation – or even dismissal – of older grand narratives, accelerated by the cultural turn, is increasingly seen as problematic. There is a general need for a concise overview of the rise of modern science, with a clear structure allowing for a rough division in periods. Here I would like to propose such a scheme, one that is both elementary and comprehensive. It focuses on particular technical artefacts or machines, which mediated between science and society during successive periods of time. Each of these machines was used as a powerful resource for the understanding of both inorganic and organic nature. More specifically, their metaphorical use helped to construe and refine some key concepts that would play a prominent role in such understanding [...]

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