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Learning From Artifacts: A Review of the “Reading Artifacts: Summer Institute in the Material Culture of Science,” Presented by The Canada Science and Technology Museum and Situating Science Cluster

Virdi, Jaipreet (2010) Learning From Artifacts: A Review of the “Reading Artifacts: Summer Institute in the Material Culture of Science,” Presented by The Canada Science and Technology Museum and Situating Science Cluster. Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science, 4 (1). pp. 276-279. ISSN 1913-0465

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Abstract

Describing how the study of artifacts is greatly enhanced by an understanding of the history of museums, Ken Arnold remarks that there is “an implicit faith in the power of objects to tell, or at least ask, historians things that the written word alone cannot” (1999, p. 145). Rather than remaining mute objects or passive accessories to textual descriptions, artifacts (and the museums that house them) are tangible incarnations of the culture from which they emerged, providing unique information on the attitudes and behaviors of the past. In practice, studying and learning from artifacts can sometimes pose methodological problems, as a text-oriented historian may have no idea of how to “read” an object in order to reveal its secrets of the past. Historians and philosophers are trained almost exclusively to work with written and oral documents, limiting their analysis by neglecting such a valuable group of sources. However, as outlined in a special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science (2007, vol. 38, no. 2), it is apparent that a new historiographical tide has swept over scholars, encouraging new studies and methodologies for working with artifacts, objects, and images.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Virdi, Jaipreet
Keywords: Scientific Realism; Epistemic Issues; Epistemology of Science
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Jordan Miller
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2021 03:11
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2021 03:11
Item ID: 17921
Journal or Publication Title: Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: The University of Toronto
Official URL: https://spontaneousgenerations.library.utoronto.ca...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.4245/sponge.v4i1.13861
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 30 August 2010
Page Range: pp. 276-279
Volume: 4
Number: 1
ISSN: 1913-0465
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17921

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