Text of 4 Pop-Up Notes for Editor’s Introduction to Ludwik Fleck’s Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (1935; Eng. trans., 1979)

#1 (of 4)

epistemology — I.e., the science which deals with the origin and method of knowledge. ::

#2 (of 4)

“seeing” vs. “seeing as” — An obvious instance of the difference between “seeing” and “seeing as” will be familiar to any of us who have stared blankly at the chaotic medical images produced by x-ray, CT, and MRI machines. It takes quite a while before even the most attentive and studious parent or pet-parent is able to find meaning in these images, nor will we ever be able to see with the same depth of understanding as the radiologist, surgeon, veterinarian, and other trained experts who rely on such images to do their work. ::

#3 (of 4)

constructivist — Epistemologically, Fleck was “an advocate of a radical nominalism and constructivism.” (Cohen & Schnelle, Introduction, xi) He was not, however, a skeptic: “The views outlined here should not be construed as skepticism. We are certainly capable of knowing a great deal. If we cannot know ‘everything,’ according to the traditional position, it is simply because we cannot do much with the term ‘everything,’ for every new finding raises at least one new problem: namely an investigation of what has just been found. The number of problems to be solved thus becomes infinite and the term ‘everything’ meaningless.” (Fleck, 1979, 51)
  Ultimately, Fleck believed in “reality” and the truths of science. “Truth is not ‘relative’ and certainly not ‘subjective’ in the popular sense of the word. It is always, or almost always, completely determined within a thought style.... Truth is not a convention, but rather (1) in historical perspective, an event in the history of thought, (2) in its contemporary context, stylized thought constraint.” (Fleck, 1979, 100) ::

#4 (of 4)

recent — I.e., recent to Fleck, when composing his monograph in 1934. ::