In Ways of Knowing, John V. Pickstone provides a new and accessible framework for understanding science, technology, and medicine (STM) in the West from the Renaissance to the present. Pickstone's approach has four key features. First, he synthesizes the long-term histories and philosophies of disciplines that are normally studied separately. Second, he dissects STM into specific ways of knowing—natural history, analysis, and experimentalism—with separate but interlinked elements. Third, he explores these ways of knowing as forms of work related to our various technologies for making, mending, and destroying. And finally, he relates scientific and technical knowledges to popular understandings and to politics.
Covering an incredibly wide range of subjects, from minerals and machines to patients and pharmaceuticals, and from experimental physics to genetic engineering, Pickstone's Ways of Knowing challenges the reader to reexamine traditional conceptualizations of the history, philosophy, and social studies of science, technology, and medicine.
Pickstone describes three "ways of knowing"<-->natural history, or the classification of things; analysis, or separating things into various kinds of elements; and experimentation, a way of controlling phenomena and creating novelties<-->and then shows how they are intertwined in science, technology, and medicine. His overarching topic, through the use of everyday examples, is the history of science, technology, and medicine in the West from the Renaissance to the present; he also looks at how ways of knowing are linked to ways of making things, and how knowledge is built into commodities<-->pharmaceuticals and weapons, for instance. Finally he relates scientific and technical knowledge to popular understanding and to politics, Pickstone directs the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, U. of Manchester, UK. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)