Turning to ontology in studies of distant sciences

Nicholas Jardine


Drawing on contributions to the conference Science in the Forest, Science in the Past, and on exemplary works of Annemarie Mol and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, this article offers reflections on the opportunities and challenges for historians of the sciences that are presented by the “ontological turn.” It notes how this approach leads to recognition of plurality in the sciences, not only with regard to content but also with respect to the personae adopted by their practitioners, and how it encourages attention to aspects of the sciences embedded in everyday and routine practices. In conclusion some suggestions are offered on the problems of accessing and communicating to others distant sciences of the forest and/or the past.


Annemarie Mol, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, ontological turn, pluralism, dividuals, embedded knowledge, responsible interpretation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/703874