Physics as a Social Fact

  • Sal Restivo
Part of the A Pallas Paperback book series (EPIS, volume 10)


Capra argues that a “deeper understanding” of the mystical traditions he writes about “can only be felt when one decides to become actively involved” in them; mysticism “cannot be learned from books”. He implies that (a) physics can be learned from books, and (b) a “deeper understanding” of physics can also be learned from books without becoming actively involved in it.1


Modern Physic German Physicist Laboratory Life Local Hide Variable Theory Subatomic Physic 
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  1. 3.
    G. Feinberg, What is the World Made Of?, Anchor Books, Garden City, N.Y., 1978, pp. xii–xiii; Feynman, op. cit., p. 167.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    R. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure, enlarged edition, The Free Press, New York, 1968, p. 661; and L. A. Farrall, ‘Controversy and Conflict in Science: A Case Study — The English Biometrie School and Mendel’s Laws’, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 5, No. 3 (August), 1975, pp. 269-301; and see E. Frankel, ‘Corpuscular Optics and the Wave Theory of Light: The Science and Politics of a Revolution in Physics’, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 6. No. 2 (May), 1976, pp. 141–184; B. Wynne, ‘Physics and Psychics: Science, Symbolic Action, and Social Control in Late Victorian England’, in B. Barnes and S. Shapin (eds.), Natural Order, Sage, London, 1979, pp. 167–186; S. Woolgar, ‘Writing an Intellectual History of Scientific Development: The Use of Discovery Accounts’, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 6, Nos. 3, 4 (September), 1976, pp. 395–422; Forman, op. cit.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Forman, op. cit., p. 3, cites Jammer, op. cit.; see also pp. 6, 11–13; cf. L. M. Branscomb, ‘Taming Technology’, Science, Vol. 171 (March 12), 1971, pp. 972–977. This exercise in “parallelism” is, of course, subject to my pitfalls arguments.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 14.
    B. Harvey, ‘Plausibility and the Evaluation of Knowledge: A Case Study of Experimental Quantum Mechanics’, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 11, No. 1 (February), 1981, pp. 95–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 15.
    H. Collins, The Seven Sexes: A Study in the Sociology of a Phenomenon, or the Replication of Experiments in Physics’, Sociology, Vol. 9, 1975, p. 207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 16.
    This discussion is based on K. Knorr, ‘The Ethnography of Laboratory Life’, in S. Restivo (ed.), New Directions in the Sociology of Science, special issue of the International Society for the Sociology of Knowledge Newsletter, Vol. 7, Nos. 1 and 2 (May), 1981, pp. 4–9.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    B. Latour and S. Woolgar, Laboratory Life, Sage, Beverly Hills, 1979, pp. 51–52, 245.Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    K. Knorr and D, Knorr, ‘From Scenes to Scripts: On the Relationship Between Laboratory Research and Published Paper in Scienoe’, Research Memorandum No. 132, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna (August), 1978; M. Zeiuen and S. Restivo, ‘The Mysterious Morphology of Immiscible Liquids: A Study of Scientific Practice’, Social Science Information, Vol. 21, No. 3, 1982, pp. 447–473.Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    L. Fleck, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979, pp. 95, 100–102 (originally published in German in 1935).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sal Restivo
    • 1
  1. 1.Science and Technology Studies DivisionRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA

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