How to make oneself nature's spokesman? A Latourian account of classification in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century natural history
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 8 (2):193-223 (1993)
Classification in eighteenth-century natural history was marked by a battle of systems. The Linnaean approach to classification was severely criticized by those naturalists who aspired to a truly natural system. But how to make oneself nature''s spokesman? In this article I seek to answer that question using the approach of the French anthropologist of science Bruno Latour in a discussion of the work of the French naturalists Buffon and Cuvier in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. These naturalists followed very different strategies in creating and defending of what they believed to be a natural classification in zoology. Buffon failed, whereas Cuvier''s work appeared to be very successful. My argument will be that, to explain Buffon''s failure and Cuvier''s success, we should not focus on the epistemological or theoretical concerns and justifications of these naturalists, but on the concrete and heterogeneous means or tools through which animals were mobilized, stabilized and combined into ever more comprehensive systems of classification.
|Keywords||Classification natural history natural system species zoology anatomy Buffon Cuvier philosophical concerns practical means networks Latour|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Paul L. Farber (1972). Buffon and the Concept of Species. Journal of the History of Biology 5 (2):259 - 284.
Michel Foucault (1970). The Order of Things. Tavistock.
Jan V. Golinski (1986). Science and the Enlightenment by Thomas L. Hankins. History of Science 24:411-424.
B. Latour (1986). Visualization and Cognition: Thinking with Eyes and Hands. Knowledge and Society 6:1--40.
Bruno Latour (1987). Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Harvard University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Staffan Müller-Wille (2003). Joining Lapland and the Topinambes in Flourishing Holland: Center and Periphery in Linnaean Botany. Science in Context 16 (4).
Similar books and articles
Charles Starkey (2008). Classifying Emotions: Prospects for a Psychoevolutionary Approach. Philosophical Psychology 21 (6):759 – 777.
Jean Gayon (1996). The Individuality of the Species: A Darwinian Theory? — From Buffon to Ghiselin, and Back to Darwin. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 11 (2):215-244.
James Llana (2000). Natural History and the "Encyclopédie". Journal of the History of Biology 33 (1):1 - 25.
Basil Willey (1941). The Eighteenth Century Background. London, Chatto and Windus.
Marjorie Grene (2004). The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History. Cambridge University Press.
Jan-Erik Jones (2005). Boyle, Classification and the Workmanship of the Understanding Thesis. Journal of the History of Philosophy 43 (2):171-183.
Mark V. Barrow (2000). The Specimen Dealer: Entrepreneurial Natural History in America's Gilded Age. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):493 - 534.
Basil Willey (1940/1972). The Eighteenth-Century Background: Studies on the Idea of Nature in the Thought of the Period. Harmondsworth,Penguin.
M. Eulàlia Gassó Miracle (2008). The Significance of Temminck's Work on Biogeography: Early Nineteenth Century Natural History in Leiden, the Netherlands. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 41 (4):677 - 716.
Alan H. Bornbusch (1989). Lacépède and Cuvier: A Comparative Case Study of Goals and Methods in Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Fish Classification. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 22 (1):141 - 161.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads12 ( #135,330 of 1,102,036 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #192,049 of 1,102,036 )
How can I increase my downloads?