Ludwik Fleck

Polish physician

Ludwik Fleck (11 July 1896 – 5 June 1961) was a Polish Jewish and Israeli physician and biologist who did important work in epidemic typhus in Lwów, Poland, with Rudolf Weigl and in the 1930s developed the concepts of the "Denkstil" ("thought style") and the "Denkkollektiv" ("thought collective").

Quotes edit

  • At the present time we are so fortunate as to witness the spectacle of the birth, the creation, of a new style of thinking... Sooner or later much will change: the law of causality, the concepts of objectivity and subjectivity. Something else will be demanded from scientific solutions and different problems will be regarded as important. Much that has been proven will be found unproven, and much of what was never proven will turn out to be superfluous.
    • Ludwik Fleck (1929), as cited in: Sady, Wojciech, "Ludwik Fleck", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  • A truly isolated investigator is impossible... An isolated investigator without bias and tradition, without forces of mental society acting upon him, and without the effect of the evolution of that society, would be blind and thoughtless. Thinking is a collective activity (…). Its product is a certain picture, which is visible only to anybody who takes part in this social activity, or a thought which is also clear to the members of the collective only. What we do think and how we do see depends on the thought-collective to which we belong.
    • Ludwik Fleck (1935), as cited in: Sady, Wojciech, "Ludwik Fleck", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  • If we define 'thought collective' as a community of persons mutually exchanging ideas or maintaining intellectual interaction, we will find by implication that it also provides the special 'carrier' for the historical development of any field of thought, as well as for the given stock of knowledge and level of culture. This we have designated thought style.
    • Ludwik Fleck (1981; 47), as cited in: Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. 2007. p. 113

Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, 1935-1979 edit

Ludwik Fleck, Entstehung und Entwicklung Einer Wissenschaftlichen Tatsache. Einführung in die Lehre vom Denkstil und Denkkollektiv. Basel: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, 1935. Translation: Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. 1979.

  • Whatever is known has always seemed systematic, proven, applicable, and evident to the knower. Every alien system of knowledge has likewise seemed contradictory, unproven, inapplicable, fanciful, or mystical.
    • p. 22
  • Cognition... is not an individual process of any theoretical particular consciousness. Rather it is the result of a social activity, since the existing stock of knowledge exceeds the range available to any individual.
    • p. 38, as cited in: James P. Walsh and G.R. Ungson. "Organizational memory." 1991, p. 68
  • The individual within the collective is never, or hardly ever, conscious of the prevailing thought style, which almost always exerts an absolutely compulsive force upon his thinking and with which it is not possible to be at variance.
    • p. 41 (2012 edition)
  • The current state of knowledge remains vague when history is not considered, just as history remains vague without substantive knowledge of the current state.
    • p. 54 (2012 edition)

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