Challenging Incommensurability: What We Can Learn from Ludwik Fleck for the Analysis of Configurational Innovation

Minerva 49 (4):489-508 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This paper argues that Ludwik Fleck’s concepts of thought collectives and proto-ideas are surprisingly topical to tackle some conceptual challenges in analyzing contemporary innovation. The objective of this paper is twofold: First, it strives to establish Ludwik Fleck as an important classic on the map of innovation analysis. A systematic comparison with Thomas Kuhn’s work on paradigms, a concept highly influential in various branches of innovation studies, suggests a number of pronounced yet under-researched advantages of a Fleckian perspective in the context of technological change and innovation. Secondly, the paper links these advantages to some recent changes in the organization of innovation. Due to the rising pervasiveness of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), configurational innovation has become commonplace that cuts across the boundaries of established trajectories of knowledge generation. Fleck’s graded understanding of the closedness of thought collectives and his weak notion of incommensurability provide powerful metaphors to grasp the peculiarities of configurational innovation



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,347

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Thought styles and paradigms—a comparative study of Ludwik Fleck and Thomas S. Kuhn.Nicola Mößner - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):362–371.
From Fleck's denkstil to Kuhn's paradigm: Conceptual schemes and incommensurability.Babette E. Babich - 2003 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (1):75 – 92.
Ludwik Fleck on proto-ideas in medicine.Stig Brorson - 2000 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 3 (2):147-152.
Ludwik Fleck and the concept of style in the natural sciences.Claus Zittel - 2012 - Studies in East European Thought 64 (1-2):53-79.
Managing to Innovate in Higher Education.Harold Silver - 1999 - British Journal of Educational Studies 47 (2):145 - 156.
Stabilizing and changing phenomenal worlds: Ludwik Fleck and Thomas Kuhn on scientific literature.Stig Brorson & Hanne Andersen - 2001 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 32 (1):109-129.
The Role of Skill in Experimentation: Reading Ludwik Fleck's Study of the Wasserman Reaction as an Example of Ian Hacking's Experimental Realism.David Stump - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:302 - 308.


Added to PP

143 (#131,659)

6 months
33 (#103,869)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Ludwik Fleck.Wojciech Sady - unknown - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
Genesis and development of a scientific fact.Ludwik Fleck - 1979 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by T. J. Trenn & R. K. Merton.
Representing and Intervening.Ian Hacking - 1983 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 35 (4):381-390.

View all 27 references / Add more references