Ian Hacking’s Rewriting of Leviathan and the Air-Pump


  • María de los Ángeles Martini Universidad Nacional de Moreno - Universidad de Buenos Aires




Contingency and Permanence in Historiography of Science, Form of Life, Leviathan and the Air-Pump, Hacking, Shapin and Schaffer


Ian Hacking has argued that the book Leviathan and the Air-Pump acted as a historiographical source in his analysis of the laboratory style of thinking and doing. The present article analyzes Hacking’s appropriation of Shapin and Schaffer’s work as a rewriting of the history of English experimental philosophy of the seventeenth century. The analysis focuses on the contingency/permanence tension with the aim of investigating the two historiographic narratives as attempts to overcome what Bernstein calls “Cartesian anxiety.” First, I examine the mundane historiography of Shapin and Schaffer and their philosophical commitment to finitism as constitutive of their historiographical approach. Second, I analyze Hacking’s appropriation of Fernand Braudel’s historiography in writing a material history of experimental philosophy. Finally, I address the notion of form of life as a nuclear point in the ways that Hacking and Shapin and Schaffer seek to move beyond Cartesian anxiety.


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How to Cite

Martini, María de los Ángeles. 2023. “Ian Hacking’s Rewriting of Leviathan and the Air-Pump”. Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science, no. 15 (December). https://doi.org/10.24117/2526-2270.2023.i15.03.



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