Book chapter
Open access

Pratiques, systèmes et laboratoire: Saussure et la découverte de la division des animalcules microscopiques

ContributorsRatcliff, Marc
Published inH.-B de Saussure (1740-1799) Un regard sur la terre, Editors René Sigrist, p. 51-81
PublisherGenève : Georg
Publication date2001

This paper focuses on the analysis and contextualization of an eighteenth-century experimental notebook that contains a fundamental discovery: the division of infusoria, reinterpreted a century later as mitosis. This unknown research by the young Genevan patrician Horace-Bénédict de Saussure took place in a dynamic European context, encouraged in particular by his uncle Charles Bonnet. Based on an analysis of the diary of microscopic experiments, combined with correspondence between scientists, a model of scientific discovery as a process from its construction to its dissemination is proposed, reconciling logical, social and linguistic factors. Finally, the article shows that, contrary to the view of classical historians of microscopy that the eighteenth century was devoid of fundamental research, it was a period of cutting-edge microscopic research.

  • Horace-Bénédict de Saussure
  • Charles Bonnet
  • Discovery theory
  • History of creativity
  • Eighteenth century science
  • Scientific notebooks
  • Historical epistemology
  • Writing techniques
  • History of laboratory
  • Mitosis
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
RATCLIFF, Marc. Pratiques, systèmes et laboratoire: Saussure et la découverte de la division des animalcules microscopiques. In: H.-B de Saussure (1740-1799) Un regard sur la terre. Genève : Georg, 2001. p. 51–81.
Main files (1)
Book chapter (Published version)
  • PID : unige:175387

Technical informations

Creation02/29/2024 8:03:54 AM
First validation03/04/2024 4:32:38 PM
Update time03/04/2024 4:32:38 PM
Status update03/04/2024 4:32:38 PM
Last indexation03/04/2024 4:32:55 PM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack