Thing Knowledge (Hardcover)

A Philosophy of Scientific Instruments

By Davis Baird

University of California Press, 9780520232495, 296pp.

Publication Date: February 10, 2004

List Price: 85.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Western philosophers have traditionally concentrated on theory as the means for expressing knowledge about a variety of phenomena. This absorbing book challenges this fundamental notion by showing how objects themselves, specifically scientific instruments, can express knowledge. As he considers numerous intriguing examples, Davis Baird gives us the tools to "read" the material products of science and technology and to understand their place in culture. Making a provocative and original challenge to our conception of knowledge itself, Thing Knowledge demands that we take a new look at theories of science and technology, knowledge, progress, and change. Baird considers a wide range of instruments, including Faraday's first electric motor, eighteenth-century mechanical models of the solar system, the cyclotron, various instruments developed by analytical chemists between 1930 and 1960, spectrometers, and more.

About the Author

Davis Baird, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina, is author of Inductive Logic: Inferring the Unknown (1999) and coeditor of Heinrich Hertz: Classical Physicist, Modern Philosopher (1997).