Conference FILM

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read the conference report (by Sandra Lang).



Wrocław (Poland)

International conference

Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and thought collectives –

translations and receptions

Here you can find the program of the conference (Ludwik Fleck, translations and receptions) in PDF file and in jpg:

Ludwik Fleck, translations and receptions Ludwik Fleck, translations and receptions_01

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Here is the Call for Papers:

CfP updated 10CfP updated 10_01CfP updated 10_02

Call for papers in pdf: CfP updated 10.2015


  • Mauro Condé (Brasil) – THE RECEPTION OF LUDWIK FLECK IN BRAZIL: FROM AN ANONYMOUS VISITOR TO A RENOWNED THINKER: The aim of the talk is analyze the reception of Ludwik Fleck’s thought in Brazil. It will start from a brief consideration of his travel to Brazil, in 1955, to participate in the II International Congress of Allergy. Then the talk will analyze the impact of Fleck’s ideas in some of different areas of research such as science education, history of science, philosophy of science, especially after the 1980s, with the translation of Fleck’s book into English (1979), Spanish (1986) and Portuguese (2010).
  • Nathalie Jas (France) – WHAT A JOURNEY! TRANSLATING FLECK AS NON FLECK SPECIALIST AND NON PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATOR:In this talk I will share my experience of translating Fleck’s book into French as non Fleck specialist and non professional translator. It was quite a journey from which I learnt a lot not only on Fleck himself and Fleck ways of thinking but also on how to study and understand scientific knowledge production. I dealt with the translation as I would have with a research project seeking to gain an understanding of Fleck’s medical, scientific, philosophical and social worlds. I was often puzzled and stuck wishing I could ask Fleck “hey, what did you mean?” I also got convinced that Fleck’s original way of writing German embodies part of his thought and is a way of conveying it. Yet how to transfer it into French? I am not sure that I always found the right answers to all the questions I asked myself and problems I faced and a lot remains to be done to produce a translation that does justice to the richness and thickness of Fleck’s thought. My translation is however a first step in that direction. This experience of translating Fleck transformed my understanding of science and scientific knowledge production and has infused my research and teaching in many different ways. For instance Fleck has helped me thinking about various forms of knowledge that are at play in toxic issues and how to deal with academic, expert and regulatory knowledges that all claim to be scientific although they are produced in different institutional settings, may pursue very different aims and may conflict with each other.
  • Ilana Löwy (France) - FLECK AND THE ETHICS OF SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY: Ludwik Fleck is known today mainly for his important contributions to epistemology, sociology of scientific knowledge, and sociocultural studies of scientific practices. My talk will discuss a different, and less known aspect of Fleck’s work, his engagement with ethics of scientific and medical investigations, and with the normative aspects of medicine and public health. Fleck was an immunologist, was engaged most of his life in practice-oriented investigations of infectious diseases. His best known work, Genesis and Development of Scientific Fact describe the origins and diffusion of a test for syphilis, a disease seen in the 1930s as a major public health problem. My talk will analyze the link between Fleck’s concerns about ethics of scientific investigation and the development of his epistemological thinking.
  • Mariana Camilo de Oliveira (Argentina) - TRANSLATION COLLECTIVE, TRANSLATION STYLES. ON THE EXPERIENCE OF TRANSLATING LUDWIK FLECK INTO BRAZILIAN PORTUGUESE: In this contribution I intend to describe the experience of translating Fleck’s Entstehung und Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Tatsache (1935) into Brazilian Portuguese, an endeavor carried out together with translator Prof. Georg Otte and with the technical revision and preface by Prof. Mauro Condé, published in Brazil in the year 2010. As the first translation of this author into Portuguese, we had the remarkable responsibility of setting Fleck’s concepts in the new language, a crucial aspect of any theoretical or philosophical translation (in comparison, for instance, to technical or literary ones). The responsibility derives from the fact that, in a twentieth-century definition, philosophy is precisely the art of creating concepts. This means that the way in which concepts are established in the target language interferes with the theory in question. They will be amalgamated, in Fleckian terms, into a “thought collective”. Beyond creating a glossary, it was necessary to preserve part of Fleck’s style and what he produces in the source language. On a lexical level, this meant considering expressions frequently used, as well as neologisms, archaisms, mots rares, self-references or references to a tradition. In Fleck’s case, the difficulties and challenges emanated from all these elements. Fleck had proficiency in German, the language of science at that moment. He also used a complex technical vocabulary that came from microbiology. Simultaneously, he alluded to Latin sources that do not have a translation into modern German. He created many neologisms, besides “Denkstil” and “Denkkollektiv”, and introduced a whole terminological texture through the morpheme Denk- (Denkzwang, Denkverkehr). After this translating experience, it does not seem adventurous to suggest that translations are not exempt from what Fleck formulates concerning the development of science. Furthermore, it may be possible to conceive a translation theory based on Fleckian grounds.
  • Stefano Poggi (Italy) - ON-THE-SURFACE REVOLUTIONS AND IN-THE-DEEP EVOLUTIONS. PAOLO ROSSI AND THE ITALIAN TRANSLATION OF FLECK’S ENTSTEHUNG: The Italian translation of Fleck’s Entstehung was published 1983 by the leading publishing house Il Mulino, following the advise of the influential philosopher and historian of science Paolo Rossi. In his introduction to the translation, Rossi sketched a vivid account of the in those years highly debated question of the changing perspectives in the history of science. Rossi showed himself very sceptical about the “revolution” in epistemology as exemplified in the work of Hanson, Kuhn, Toulmin, Lakatos, Feyerabend. He agreed in many regards with their ideas, but at the same time he was firmly convinced that this “revolution” didn’t represent anything new. One had, moreover, to follow Fleck’s example and also to take into account the real complexity of the science’s rise and evolution. This way, Rossi laid emphasisis on the need for a true historical history of science.
  • Wojciech Sady (Poland) - FLECK’S EPISTEMOLOGY, WRITING AND RELATIVISTIC REVOLUTION IN PHYSICS: Ludwik Fleck was one of the pioneers of the theory of extended mind. The hard core of this theory is the claim that our minds are conditioned by something that exists outside of them – and the analysis of such conditionings is necessary to explain that such-and-such thought appeared in a particular mind. We are conditioned, claims Fleck, by the process of constant exchange of ideas among members of a thought collective we belong to. In this process we obtain cognitive a priori: active assumptions of a thought style. In the case of scientific thought style those assumptions lead us to make research and direct our research. In Flecks’s opinion new ideas arise as results of a series of misunderstandings between scientists. My own research on revolutions in physics convinced me that a crucial element is lacking in Fleck’s epistemology. Scientists do not just keep talking to each other. From time to time every scientist thinks in solitude, and then she/he usually takes notes. One who only thinks, thinks differently then one who thinks and writes. It is obvious in case of mathematical derivations. What can not happen in our brain, can happen on paper. I will argue that the relativistic revolution in physics (1) was a product of collective research and that (2) it happened on paper rather than in any individual brain.
  • Hartmut von Sass (Switzerland) - FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. TRANSCENDENTAL PRAGMATISM IN LUDWIK FLECK: Ludwik Fleck belongs to a prominent group of philosophers revolting against the “myth of the given”. The old empiricist and, later, positivist idea of having somehow directly accessible sense data is then not only wrong, but confused. Fleck reacts to this confusion in two very different ways. Number one: he approaches the act of discerning in a phenomenological manner by densely describing how we see something rather than just “chaos”, as he puts it. Hence, Fleck focuses on vision and prefers visual metaphors for his account. Accordingly, we are not able to see something form the outset, but learn to see it by certain kinds of education. Thus, we do not create the world and its objects seen by us, but the ways in which we deal with that inhabited world. Number two: Fleck follows Kant in stating that empirical input has to be combined with epistemic structures to really discerning something. However, while Kant holds that these structures are universal and ahistoric, Fleck proposes a pragmatist account of these clusters being relative to particular cultural settings and their genesis. Fleck’s “collective thought style” appears then to be nothing other than a historized and culturally sensitive version of Kantian transcendentals. Now, both ways create what one might call “Transcendental Pragmatism”. In my paper, I will elaborate on these both ways, show how they interact and even conflict with each other and which resources Fleck uses in order to solve their tensions.