Scientific article
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Répétition d’expériences, laboratoire et pseudo-laboratoire. Autour d’Abraham Trembley (1744)

ContributorsRatcliff, Marc
Publication date2008

Using the work of Abraham Trembley as an example, the article describes how the modern biological laboratory was created by reconciling two previously indistinct forms and places: the experimental laboratory, concerned with hydra experiments, and the para-experimental laboratory, concerned with the preservation of laboratory animals. However, while all these practices were made public by Trembley when they left their place of production, only a few of his experiments were actually repeated, while the para-experimental dimension was set aside. In other words, the repetition of the experiments that ran through the show and led to the process of persuasion only touched on a small part of the actual laboratory work. This is why, for the sake of persuasion, the experimental laboratory was transformed into a public pseudo-laboratory when it crossed the boundaries of its original site. On the one hand, Trembley's articulation of experimental and para-experimental dimensions allows us to understand the emergence of the modern heuristic laboratory. On the other hand, beyond its boundaries, the laboratory gave rise to a multitude of delocalized pseudo-laboratories that organized spectacle and persuasion, making the distance between the public and the scientist appear similar to that between the producer and the consumer of knowledge.

  • History of life science
  • History of laboratories
  • Abraham Trembley
  • Experimental repetition
  • Para-experimentation
  • Eighteenth century science
  • Hydra
Citation (ISO format)
RATCLIFF, Marc. Répétition d’expériences, laboratoire et pseudo-laboratoire. Autour d’Abraham Trembley (1744). In: Bulletin d’histoire et d’épistémologie des sciences de la vie, 2008, vol. 15, n° 2, p. 127–136.
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Article (Published version)
  • PID : unige:175299
ISSN of the journal1279-7243

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