Is It History? Philosophy? Or None Of The Above?

THE PASTEURIZATION OF FRANCE Bruno Latour Translated by Alan Sheridan and John Law; Harvard University Press; Cambridge; 273 pages; $30.00 Sociologist Bruno Latour’s book, The Pasteurization of France, is really two books in one—the first more or less historical, the second purely philosophical. In the first section, called “War and Peace of Microbes,” Latour analyzes of a small part of 19th-century research on infectious disease, focusing on Louis Pasteur, his discove

Thomas Brock
Nov 13, 1988

THE PASTEURIZATION OF FRANCE
Bruno Latour
Translated by Alan Sheridan and John Law; Harvard University Press;
Cambridge; 273 pages; $30.00

Sociologist Bruno Latour’s book, The Pasteurization of France, is really two books in one—the first more or less historical, the second purely philosophical. In the first section, called “War and Peace of Microbes,” Latour analyzes of a small part of 19th-century research on infectious disease, focusing on Louis Pasteur, his discoveries his penchant for self-promotion, and how all of this played a role in the development of the field of hygiene.

The second section, called “Irreductions,” consists of a series of postulates dealing primarily with epistemology as it relates to science.

As a bacteriologist who dabbles in history. I am often amused at what historians of science find important. But what am I to make of The Pasteurization of France? Starting out as history of science, it gradually becomes science...

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