ABSTRACT

In the 1980s, philosopher Ian Hacking advocated a rethinking of the role of hands and eyes in the construction of scienti c knowledge. His argument for the importance of experimentation was accompanied by the hope that it might launch a ‘back-to-Bacon movement, in which we attend more seriously to experimental science’.2 Now, some three decades later, one has to acknowledge that Hacking has been tremendously successful, even if he was not the rst philosopher of science to point to the importance of the Baconian conception of experience through experimentation, which has been referred to sympathetically and critically by Karl Popper, omas S. Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, for example. However, nowadays Francis Bacon is undoubtedly the historical witness most o en called upon when describing recent transformations in the production of knowledge and its epistemological and ontological status. Witness, for instance, the expression ‘the current state of human a airs in the wake of our collective Baconian transformation’, or the writing of another author who reads Bacon as a precursor to Latour.3 e renewed interest in Bacon is one of the symptoms of contemporary postmodernism, argues Paul Forman, where ends regain primacy and had been ascribed to the scienti c methods ‘always and everywhere’ prior to the Enlightenment, with its high valuation of science, being ‘modernity’s prime exemplar of progress through reliance upon a proper means’.4