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Laboratory Life - continued...


The Crisis of the Sciences

The relationship between modern sciences and the everyday, in Western thought, has been a difficult one since Edmund Husserl's late work. With his momentous concept of the life-world, Husserl introduced extensive reflections on the character and the crisis of the modern sciences: the sciences had lost their meaning for man, he wrote, because their formal abstraction had removed them from all matters of the practical everyday, the life-world. The sciences were thus currently undergoing a deep crisis. Phenomenology itself was the attempt to overcome this crisis by reconnecting the sciences with their original meaning, i.e., by reconstructing their emergence from everyday practices: "the life of acts [Aktleben] practised by working scientists, working with one another [...] the persons, the apparatus, the room in the institute, etc." (Husserl 1970, 122ff.) Recognizably penned by Husserl, these words, which, in Husserl's own understanding, circumscribed "a vast theme for study", seem to point to the later work of Bruno Latour. (Husserl 1970, 123) Whereas Husserl himself had limited his study of the everyday in science to rather general remarks, for example on the connection of Galileo's mathematical physics to the practical art of land survey, Latour undertook lengthy fieldwork amidst molecular biologists to record and describe in detail their "life of acts", through which the scientific facts, they later published, were constructed.

Reference: Felsch, Philipp. 2003. Laboratory Life. How Physiologists Discovered their Everyday.. The Virtual Laboratory (ISSN 1866-4784), http://vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/references?id=art12&page=p0002