Visualisation and Cognition: Thinking with Eyes and Hands

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In H. Kuklick (editor) Knowledge and Society Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present , Jai Press vol. 6, pp. 1-40, 1986. Reprinting and revision in Michael Lynch and Steve Woolgar (editors) Representation in Scientific Activity, MIT Press, Cambridge Mass, pp.19-68, 1990. Partial republication in The Map Reader, Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation edited by Martin Dodge, Rob Kitchin and Chris Perkins, Wiley Blackwell, 65-73, 2011. Republication in Science and Technology Studies: Critical Concepts, edited by Professor Michael Lynch, Routledge, 2011.


It would be nice to be able to define what is specific to our modem scientific culture. It would be still nicer to find the most economical explanation (which might not be the most economic one) of its origins and special characteristics. To arrive at a parsimonious explanation it is best not to appeal to universal traits of nature. Hypotheses about changes in the mind or human consciousness, in the structure of the brain, in social relations, in “mentalités”, or in the economic infrastructure which are posited to explain the emergence of science or its present achievements are simply too grandiose, not to say hagiographic in most cases and plainly racist in more than a few others. Occam’s razor should cut these explanations short. No “new man” suddenly emerged sometime in the sixteenth century, and there are no mutants with larger brains working inside modern laboratories who can think differently from the rest of us. The idea that a more rational mind or a more constraining scientific method emerged from darkness and chaos is too complicated a hypothesis.


1998: Espagnol / Spanish
In La Balsa de la Medusa

2006: Allemand / German
In Andréa Belliger & David J. Krieger ANThology: Ein einführendes Handbuch zur Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie, Bielefeld, Transcript Verlag, pp.259-308

2008: Tchèque / Czech
« Poznani a Vizualizace –Anb Jak Myslet Ocima a Rukama », translated by Radim Hladik in Teorie Veddi XXX, n°2 p.33-90 

2012: Polonais/Polish
'Wizualizacja i poznanie: zrysowywanie rzeczy razem'. Translation: Aleksandra Derra & Maciej Frackowiak. AVANT, The Journal of the Philosophical-Interdisciplinary Vanguard, vol. III, T/2012, pp. 207-257. ISSN online: 2082-6710. ISSN print (forthcoming): 2082-7598.

2015: Portugais/Portuguese
Journal: « Cognição e visualização. Pensando com olhos e mãos » Terra brasilis 4 2015
Traducteur: David Ramirez
On line: at

2017: Russian translation
Margarita Maslyukova, Marina Rastorguyeva
LOGOS special issue, dedicated to ANT] LOGOS
Philosophical and Literary Journal Volume 27 · #2 ·pp. 95-156, 2017]

2018 German translation
« Drawing things together – Die Macht der unveranderlich mobile Elemente (1990)”
Andreas Zieman et al. (editor) Grundlagentexte der Medien kultur
Springer, pp. 265-274.