Number and Things

Foucauldian Contributions to the Work of Ian Hacking


  • María Laura Martínez Universidad de la República



Foucault, Influence of Michel Foucault in the thinking of Ian Hacking, archeology, genealogy;, human sciences, styles of scientific reasoning, historical conditions of possibility for the emergence of scientific concepts and objects


Ian Hacking has repeatedly pointed out the influence that the work of Michel Foucault had early in his work, an influence that came mainly through his reading of Foucault’s Les Mots et les Choses (1966). In this sense, it is reasonable to trace the Foucauldian lineage in many of the notions Hacking proposes for “how we found out how to find out” (Hacking 2010, April 21, 3), and, more particularly, in the latter’s assessment of how to work in the human sciences is carried forth. However, I argue that Foucault exerted an even more fundamental influence that underlies the totality of Hacking’s work: namely, having stimulated Hacking’s interest in analyzing the historical conditions of possibility of the emergence of scientific objects and concepts. To show this, in this article, I first focus on two works by Hacking—The Emergence of Probability (1975) and Why Does Language Matter to Philosophy? (1975a)—in which he adopts an archeological perspective which, I argue, clearly adumbrates Foucault’s influence. I then turn to The Taming of Chance (1990), Rewriting the Soul (1995) and Mad Travelers (1998), where I contend that, added to the archeological contributions, it is possible to identify traces of Foucault’s genealogical period.


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How to Cite

Martínez, María Laura. 2022. “Number and Things: Foucauldian Contributions to the Work of Ian Hacking”. Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science, no. 12 (June).



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