Split and Splice: A Phenomenology of Experimentation (Paperback)

Split and Splice: A Phenomenology of Experimentation By Hans-Jörg Rheinberger Cover Image

Split and Splice: A Phenomenology of Experimentation (Paperback)


Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
An esteemed historian of science explores the diversity of scientific experimentation.
The experiment has long been seen as a test bed for theory, but in Split and Splice, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger makes the case, instead, for treating experimentation as a creative practice. His latest book provides an innovative look at the experimental protocols and connections that have made the life sciences so productive.
Delving into the materiality of the experiment, the first part of the book assesses traces, models, grafting, and note-taking—the conditions that give experiments structure and make discovery possible. The second section widens its focus from micro-level laboratory processes to the temporal, spatial, and narrative links between experimental systems. Rheinberger narrates with accessible examples, most of which are drawn from molecular biology, including from the author’s laboratory notebooks from his years researching ribosomes.
A critical hit when it was released in Germany, Split and Splice describes a method that involves irregular results and hit-or-miss connections—not analysis, not synthesis, but the splitting and splicing that form a scientific experiment. Building on Rheinberger’s earlier writing about science and epistemology, this book is a major achievement by one of today’s most influential theorists of scientific practice.

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger is honorary professor of the history of science at the Technical University of Berlin and director emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. He is the author, with Staffan Müller-Wille, of The Gene: From Genetics to Postgenomics and A Cultural History of Heredity, both published by the University of Chicago Press

Product Details ISBN: 9780226825328
ISBN-10: 0226825329
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: April 21st, 2023
Pages: 256
“What's in an experiment? In this English edition of Split and Splice: A Phenomenology of Experimentation, a leading historian and philosopher of biology returns in fine form to renew his long-standing plea for scholarly attention to the human and material elements shaping experimentation in the life sciences. In this book, Rheinberger again pulls from the primary literature with which he is most familiar, that in molecular biology, to probe how both research materials and researchers' encounters with them, through experiments, shape the emergence of scientific knowledge. . . . There is much of interest to the working biologist in Split and Splice. Rheinberger offers a convincing way of characterizing the biologist's role in her craft: She is the mediator between the real and the written; between the world of the living and the books and papers that, eventually, report new discoveries.”
— FASEB Journal

“Perched between recursivity and transgression, precision and poetics—just like the research practices it discusses—this eagerly awaited volume is the ultimate exploration of the constellation of technologies, techniques, materials, and ‘savage moments’ that make experiments into a quintessential form of inquiry. Building on three decades of world-leading research in the history and philosophy of biology, Rheinberger shows how, in life as in science, experiments epitomize the human aspiration to intervene in the world with predictable results, and yet their power lies in exposing the limits of attempts to control and foresee the future. An unmissable read for anybody wishing to understand how science thrives by failing to carve nature at its joints.”
— Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter

“In this new book, drawing on his groundbreaking Toward a History of Epistemic Things, Rheinberger explores the logic of a ‘phenomenology of experimentation.’ Attentive to the materiality of science, it brings out the creative, epistemic, and collective dimensions of scientific production in experimental context. Written by a historian and philosopher of science trained in molecular biology, Split and Splice opens up the path to a genuine historical epistemology of the forms of scientific practices for the twenty-first century.”
— Pierre-Olivier Méthot, Université Laval