Instruments of Knowledge

Finding Meaning in Objects, Habits, and Museums


In a bid to claim ‘scientific objects’ as requiring a significant amount of conceptual labor, this book looks sequentially at instruments, habits, and museums. The goal is to uncover how, together, these material and immaterial activities, rules, and commitments form one meaningful and credible blueprint revealing the building blocks of knowledge production. They serve to conceptualize and examine the entire life of an instrument: from its ideation and craft to its use, reuse, circulation, recycling, and (if not obliterated) its final entry into a museum. It is such an epistemological triptych that guides this investigation.

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Jean-François Gauvin, Ph.D. (2008) is an associate professor of history and museum studies at Université Laval in Québec city. He has published numerous articles on scientific instruments and two frequently cited edited volumes on globes and abbé Jean-Antoine Nollet.
List of Illustrations

 1 A Short Case Study: The Early Académie royale des sciences in Paris
 2 Reading This Book

Part 1: Organum


1 Quid organum erat? The Idea of Instrument in Early Modern Europe
 1 Organum scientiae: Definitions and Examples
 2 Organ-ization of Knowledge

2 Organ Making and Natural Philosophical Knowledge in Marin Mersenne’s Harmonie Universelle
 1 Mersenne’s Seven Books on Instruments in the Harmonie universelle
 2 The Organ and Mersenne’s Epistemology of Natural Philosophical Knowledge
 3 Musical Instruments and the ‘parfait musicien’

Part 2: Habitus


3 Habitus in corpore, habitus in anima: Making and Thinking in Early Modern Europe
 1 Defining habitus in Early Modern Europe
 2 Habitus and Descartes’s Logic of Practice
 3 Habitus and the Concept of Knowledge Production
 4 Blaise Pascal, coutume, and the Arithmetical Machine

4 From idiotae to artistes: Artisans, Instruments, and the Nature of Craftsmanship in Early Modern Europe
 1 Descartes, Artisans, and âmes réglées
 2 Who Assists Whom: The Structural Dynamic of Artisan and Savant Interactions
 3 From artiste to Toyware Manufacturing

Part 3: Museum


5 Repair, Restoration, Exhibition: Instruments and the Epistemic Value of Brokenness
 1 Restorer v. Conservator: How to ‘Repair’ Damaged Instruments?
 2 Reconstruction and Restoration: Abbé Nollet’s Scientific Instruments
 3 Identity, Integrity, Authenticity: Between the Unit of the Total and the Unit of the Whole
 4 Reuse and Recycle: Exhibiting the DIY of Scientists and Craftsmen

6 Instrument Trajectories: Ways of Knowing the World
 1 Collecting Instruments
 2 Knowing Through Playing
 3 Digitizing Collections
This book is of interest to early modern scholars in the history of science and museum professionals in the same field. For academic libraries and museums.
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