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Îarvard Univcrsity Ïrcss
and London, LngÍand
Copyright © 1988 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
Originally published as Les microbes: guerre et paix suivi de imiductions,
copyright © 1984 Editions A. M. Metailie, Paris.
Translation of this book has been aided by a grant from the
Georges Lurey Charitable and Educational Tru
First Harvard University Press paperback edition, 1993
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
The pasteurization of France IBruno Latour ; translated by Alan Sheridan
and John Law.
Rev. translation of: Les microbes : guerre et paix ; suivi de,
Contents: War and peace of microbes-Irreductions.
ISBN 0-674-65760-8 (lib. bdg. : alk. paper) (cloth)
ISBN 0-674-65761-6 (paper)
1. Microbiology-France-History-19th century. 2. Microbiology
Social aspects-France. 3. Pasteur, Louis, 1822-1895. I. Latour,
Bruno. Irreductons. English. 1988. II. Title.
To Michel Serres and to all
of those who are crossing
his Northwest Passage
Jhchrst part otthis book, 'Var and Ïcacc otNicrobcs," was
transÍatcdby AÍan 5hcridan, andthc sccondpart, '!rrcductions,"
was transÍatcd by|ohn Law. Jhc LngÍish vcrsions wcrc thcn rc-
viscd and cxpandcd by mc. ! thank|ohn Law tor his paticncc and
thc LcoÍc ^ationaÍ 5upcricurc dcsNincs otÏaris tor its support.
!ntroduction. NatcriaÍs andNcthods
1. 5trong Nicrobcs and Vcak Îygicnists
2. You ViÍÍ ßc Pasteurs oI Nicrobcs!
3. Ncdicinc at Last
1. Ïrom Vcakncss to Ïotcncy
4. !rrcduction oI 'Jhc 5cicnccs"
1 1 1
War and Pcacc
From War Machines to War and Peace
ÒnÒctobcr 6, I8IZ, Kutuzov, gcncraÍotthcKussiantroops, won a
ma¡orbattÍcinJarutinoovcrthc Grande Armee Ícdby^apoÍcon.At
whoottcrcdKutuzov a diamond star, his chict otstatt, ßcnningscn,
diamonds and a hundrcd thousand roubÍcs in cash, and promotion
to many ot his othccrs. !t was aÍso thc imprcssion gathcrcd by thc
Ïrcnch, who took this brict cncountcr with thc Cossacks ot ÒrÍov-
Dcnissov as a ma¡or dctcat. JoÍstoy, who writcs about thc battÍc in
War and Peace, is not guitc surc that it took pÍacc at aÍÍ. Îc is surc,
howcvcr, that Kutuzov did not want to hght it, rathcr hc tricd to
dcÍay it tor scvcraÍ wccks. 'Dcspitc aÍÍ his supposcd powcr, his in-
tcÍÍcct,his cxpcricncc and his knowÍcdgc otmcn, Kutuzov . . . couÍd
no Íongcrrcstrainthc incscapabÍc movctorward,andgavcthc ordcr
tor what hc rcgardcd as uscÍcss and mischicvous-gavc his asscnt,
thatis, to thc accompÍishcd tacts" ¦p. I I/5) . '
Lvcn attcr acccpting thc tait accompÍi and signing thc command,
4 War and Peace of Microbes
ot an hour| 'Jhc dispositions as drawn by JoÍÍ wcrc pcrtcctÍy sat-
istactory. |ust as tor thc battÍc ot ^ustcrÍitz it was statcd-though
andthatway, thc sccond coÍumnwiÍÍ procccd to this pÍacc andthat
pÍacc,`andsoon. . . . LvcrythinghadbccnadmirabÍythoughtout, as
dispositions aÍways arc, andasis aÍways thc casc not asingÍccoÍumn
rcachcd its ob¡cctivc at thc appointcd timc" ¦p. I I/6). 'Jhat's how
things aÍways arc with us-thc cart bctorc thc horsc| " ¦p. II8J) .
!ndccd,no onc during thc battÍc kncw tor surcwhichwas thchorsc
andwhich thc cart, thc action continuaÍÍy dritting awaytrom what
was intcndcd. Òn Òctobcr Z, attcr Kutuzov had bccn torccd to act
againsthisbcttcr¡ udgmcnt, his signcdordcrkcptbcingdivcrtcd.Jhc
young othccr who hcÍd it got Íost and couÍd not hnd thc gcncraÍs,
cvcntuaÍÍy hc arrivcd Íatc at night at a mansion bctwccn thc tront
Íincs whcrc, to his surprisc, thc high statt wcrc carousing. Vhcn in
thc morning Kutuzovgot upto hght a battÍc hcdidnotwantto hght,
hc discovcrcd to his tury that not a singÍc soÍdicr was prcparcd. ^o
othccr had rcccivcd any marching ordcrs. Òn thc whoÍc, howcvcr,
upon, and not tought-was a succcss trom thc Kussians` point ot
vicw. '!twouÍdbcdithcuÍtand cvcnimpossibÍctoimagincanyissuc
otthatbattÍcmorc opportunc than its actuaÍ outcomc.Vith amin·
imumotcttort and atthccostottrihingÍosscs, dcspitcaÍmostuncx-
ampÍcd muddÍc thc most important rcsuÍts ot thc whoÍc campaign
wcrc obtaincd" ¦p. I I 84) .
Vhat isthis taÍk about attribution otrcsponsibiÍity, muÍtitudc ot
pcopÍc, and missing ordcrsr Arc wc nottaÍking about stratcgy-thc
thc most ordcrcd systcm ot dircction thcrc isr !ndccd wc arc, but
ot command. '!t in thc accounts givcn us by historians, cspcciaÍÍy
Ïrcnch historians, wc hndthcir wars and battÍcs contormingto prc-
accounts arc not truc" ¦p. I I 84).
5owhat concÍusion shouÍdwcdraw whcnwchcarhistorians, cs-
pcciaÍÍy Ïrcnch historians, dcscribc not thc victoryor dctcat ot^a-
microbcsr Òn |unc Z, I88I, in thc ÍittÍc viÍÍagc ot ÏouiÍÍy-Íc-Ïort in
ßcaucc, Louis Ïastcur dctcatcd a tcrribÍc discasc ot shccp and cows,
caÍÍcdanthrax. A tricnd otÏastcur`s givcs this account. 'ÏouiÍÍy-Íc-
Ïortis as tamoustodayas anyothcr battÍchcÍd. Nonsicur Ïastcur, a
simpÍy Íookcd Íikc audacity, tor hcrc thc oracÍ
was pronounccd by
scicncc itscÍt, that is to say, it was thc cxprcssion ota Íong scrics ot
cxpcrimcnts, otwhich thc unvarying constancy otthc rcsuÍts provcd
p.4Jº) . JhcstratcgywasconccivcdcntircÍyinadvancc,Ïastcurcon-
coctcd itandhadcvcrydctaiÍhgurcdout, itwcnt accordingto pÍan,
toÍÍowing a strict ordcr otcommand trom Ïastcur to thc shccp by
wayothis assistants andthc carctakcrs. ÏoÍÍowingJoÍstoy`s advicc,
wc can say that such an account has to bc taÍsc. Vc do not know
whathappcncd, but wc can bc surc that amuÍtitudc otpcopÍc took
part in thc workand that a subtÍc transÍation, or 'dritt," ot thcir
intcntions Ícd thcm to thc ÍittÍc viÍÍagc in ordcr to watch vaccinatcd
andunvaccinatcd shccp withstand tcsts.
Vc wouÍd Íikc scicncc to bctrcc otwar and poÍitics. At Ícast, wc
wouÍd Íikc to makc dccisions othcr than through compromisc, dritt,
and unccrtainty. Vc wouÍd Íikc to tccÍ that somcwhcrc, in addition
to thc chaotic contusion otpowcr rcÍations, thcrc arc rationaÍ rcÍa-
tions. !n addition to Jarutino, wc wouÍd havc ÏouiÍÍy-Íc-Ïort. 5ur-
roundcd byvioÍcncc and disputation, wc wouÍd Íikc to scc cÍcarings
trovcrtibÍc, cttcctivc actions. Jo this cndwchavc crcatcd, in asingÍc
movcmcnt, poÍitics on onc sidc and scicncc or tcchnoscicncc on thc
othcr ¦5hapin and 5chattcr. Iº85) . Jhc LnÍightcnmcnt is about cx-
tcnding thcsc cÍcarings untiÍ thcy covcrthc worÍd.
ÏcwpcopÍc stiÍÍ bcÍicvc in such an LnÍightcnmcnt, tor at Ícast onc
rcason.²Vi(hin thcsc cnÍightcncd cÍcarìngs wc havc sccn dcvcÍoping
thcwhoÍc arscnaÍotargumcntation,vioÍcncc, andpoÍitics. !nstcadot
diminishing, this arscnaÍ has bccn vastÍy cnÍargcd. Vars ot scicncc,
isthcword that NichcÍ 5crrcs hadtotorgcto namc our disappoint-
mcntin thc rcdccming virtuc otscicncc.³ Ïcw pcopÍc stiÍÍ bcÍicvc in
thcadvcntotthc LnÍightcnmcnt, butnobodyhasyctrccovcrcdtrom
this Íoss ot taith. ^ot to bcÍicvc in it is to tccÍ that wc havc bccn
thrown back into thc DarkAgcs.
Vc cannot count on cpistcmoÍogy to gct us ovcrthis disappoint-
6 War and Peace of Microbes
mcnt. AÍthough cpistcmoÍogics havc varicd ovcr timc, thcy havc aÍ-
ways bccnwar machincs dctcnding scicncc againstits cncmics-hrst
gcncratcd by too much optimism in scicncc itscÍt, stiÍÍ Íatcr against
scicntihc inguiry, and hnaÍÍy against thc abuscs ot scicncc distortcd
scicncc is and shouÍd bc arc convcnicnt to hght thc barbarians and
kccp thcm at arm`s Ícngth, thcy arc otno avaiÍ tor dcscribing what
Ícm is no Íongcr to dctcnd scicncc against rcÍigion, abuscs, brown-
shirts, or dcvious corporatcintcrcsts. Jhc probÍcmwcnowtaccisto
undcrstandthat obscurc mixturc otwar and pcacc in which Íabora-
Agnosticism in mattcrs ot scicnccis thc onÍy way to start without
bcing trappcd on onc sidc ot thc many wars bcing tought by thc
guardians otscicncc`s bordcrs.
Lvcn it tcw pcopÍc stiÍÍ bcÍicvc ii: thc naivc vicw, couragcousÍy
dctcndcd by cpistcmoÍogists, that scts scicncc apart trom noisc and
disordcr, othcrs wouÍd stiÍÍ Íikc to providc a rationaÍ vcrsion ot sci-
why it works. Jhcy wouÍd Íikc to attributc dchnitc intcrcsts to thc
sociaÍgroupsthatshapc scicncc, to cndowthcmwithcxpÍicitbound-
rostructurcs to thc hnc grain ot scicncc. Lvcn itwc havc to givc up
our bcÍicts in scicncc, somc ot us stiÍÍ wish to rctain thc hopc that
anothcr scicncc, that ot socicty and history, might cxpÍain scicncc.
AÍas,as JoÍstoyshows us, wc do notknowhowto dcscribcwarand
poÍitics any bcttcr than wc know how to cxpÍain scicncc. Jo ottcr
wcÍÍ-conccivcdNachiavcÍÍian stratcgicsto cxpÍainscicnccisasmcan-
ingÍcssasto writc 'Dic crstc CoÍonncmarschicrt, diczwcitc CoÍonnc
marschicrt." Òur probÍcm in simuÍtancousÍy dcscribing wars ot sci-
cncc, rcÍigion, and poÍitics comcs trom thc tactthatwc havc no idca
howto dcscribc anywarwithoutaddingto itthc rcsuÍt otascicncc.
stratcgy, history, socioÍogy,thcoÍogy, or cconomics.¹
JoundcrstandsimuÍtancousÍyscicncc and socicty,wc havc to dc-
scribc war and pcacc in a dittcrcnt way, withoutourscÍvcs waging
anothcrwar or bcÍicving oncc againthat scicnccottcrs amiracuÍous
ot thc rcÍigious wars, 5pinoza had to bccomc agnostic as tar as thc
�tyÍc otbibÍicaÍ cxcgcsis inhis Tractatus Theologico-Politicus points
to a soÍutiondittcrcnttromthoscottcrcdbybcÍictsinrcÍigion orthc
scicnccs ¦bcthcy naturaÍ or sociaÍ).` Îcrc ! dcaÍ with scicntihc wars
tatus 5cicntihco-ÏoÍiticus," instcad ot cÍcarÍy dividing scicncc trom
thc rcst ot socicty, rcason trom torcc, makcs no a-priori distinction
amongthc various aÍÍics that arc summoncd intimcs otwar. Kccog-
is invoÍvcd in a rcÍation ot torccs but that ! havc no idca at aÍÍ ot
prcciscÍywhat a torcc is.¯
Jomakc this ncwtack pcrtcctÍy cÍcar, ! takc ittwicc. !nthc hrst
battÍc. !n thc sccond part, ! work out thc principÍcs to show how
othcrpoÍiticoscicntihc mixturcs can bc studicd in thc samc way. Jo
usc outdatcd tcrms, thc hrst part otthc book is morc cmpiricaÍ, thc
sccond part morc thcorcticaÍ. Jo usc morc appropriatc words, thc
hrst part pcrtains to thc Íitcrary gcnrc ot socioÍogyor sociaÍhistory,
thc sccond to that otphiÍosophy. !nstcad otdividing thc rcaÍm into
thosc who cmpiricaÍÍy study scicncc in thc making and thosc who
cÍaim to guard thc bordcrs or cstabÍish thc toundations otscicncc, !
combincthc two, and itistogcthcrthatthcy shouÍd stand or taÍÍ.
How Are We to Dispute an Indisputable Science?
show that thc sky hoÍds up pcrtcctÍy wcÍÍ on its own, wc havc to bc
abÍc to provc in a particuÍar scicntihc discipÍinc that bcÍict in thc
scicnccs,ÍikcthcoÍdbcÍictin God, is a'supcrtÍuoushypothcsis."Vc
morc adcguatcÍy by an anaÍysis ot thc rcÍations among torccs and
that thcy bccomc mutuaÍÍy incxpÍicabÍc and opaguc whcn madc to
Jhc onÍywayto dcmonstratcaprootthatmightwin conscntis to
takc an cxampÍc that is as tar rcmovcd as possibÍc tromthc thcsis !
8 War and Peace of Microbes
am trying to provc. Vc havc to takc a radicaÍ, unchaÍÍcngcabÍc sci-
cntihc rcvoÍution, onc that has protoundÍy transtormcd socicty and
yct owcs it vcry ÍittÍc. Jhcrc arc a numbcr ot rcasons tor bcÍicving
into mcdicinc, bioÍogy, and hygicnc bythc work otLouis Ïastcur.
!irst, this rcvoÍution took pÍacc at thc high point otthc scicntihc
rcÍigion. !ndccd, tor somc dccadcs bctwccnthc !ranco-ÏrussianVar
and VorÍd Var Ònc, it sccmcd rcasonabÍc to cxpcct thc scicnccs to
cÍiminatcpoÍiticaÍ disputc. 5ccond,no onc-cxccptcxtrcmccynics-
can doubt thc vaÍuc otÏastcur`s discovcrics to mcdicinc. AÍÍ otthc
othcrtcchnoÍogicaÍ congucsts havc thcir cmbittcrcd critics and maÍ-
vcnt chiÍdrcn tromdying tromtcrribÍc discascs has ncvcrbccn sccn
as anything othcr than an advantagc-cxccpt, otcoursc, bythc mi-
crobcsotthosc discascs. Up to our owntimcbioÍogyhasdcrivcdits
sociaÍ sccurity systcm) . Jhird, in no othcr scicntihc or tcchnoÍogicaÍ
innovationhas thcrc bccn so short a routc bctwccntundamcntaÍ rc-
scarchand its rapid, tar-rcachingappÍication-so much sothatit is
rcasonabÍc to wondcr whcthcr this is not thc onÍy cxampÍc, which
has bccn cxaggcratcdinto agcncraÍ Íaw. AÍÍthcothcr scicnccs cithcr
inhucncc onÍy scctions otsocicty orrcguirc such aÍong-tcrm mcdia-
and Íast, it sccms impossibÍc to dcny that Ïastcur`s rapid succcsscs
had bccn Íctt too Íong to pcopÍc goping in thc dark. Nost pcopÍc
bÍind struggÍc against an invisibÍc cncmy, rcvcaÍs a convincing sci-
cntihcmanncr, trcc ot compromisc, tinkcring, and controvcrsy. !n
sum, it is an indisputabÍc casc and and thcrctorc a pcrtcct cxampÍc
ßutwhat docs 'cxpÍaining" this cxampÍc mcanr Jo cxpÍain docs
not mcan to conhnc thc anaÍysis to thc 'intÍucnccs" cxcrtcd 'on"
Ïastcur or to thc 'sociaÍ conditions" that 'acccÍcratcd" or 'sÍowcd
cxpÍain amyth, a rituaÍ, ora custom conncctcdwithhunting simpÍy
byrccopyingor rcpcatingit, sowc cannotcxpÍain ascicnccbypara-
phrasing its rcsuÍts. !n othcr words, to cxpÍain thc scicncc ot thc
oI thc tribc."
ßutwhcrc canwc hndthc conccpts, thcwords, thc tooÍsthatwiÍÍ
admit that thcrc is no cstabÍishcd stock oIsuch conccpts, cspcciaÍÍy
not inthc so-caÍÍcd human scicnccs, partìcuÍarÍy socioÍogy. !nvcntcd
at thc samc pcriod and bythc samc pcopÍc as scicntism, socioÍogy is
powcrÍcss to undcr�tand thc skiÍÍs Irom which it has so Íong bccn
mc Irom my Iricnds, ! shaÍÍ dcaÍ with my cncmics," Ior iIwc sct out
to cxpÍain thc scicnccs, it may wcÍÍ bc that thc social scicnccs wiÍÍ
suIIcr hrst. Vhat wc havc to do is not to cxpÍain bactcrioÍogy in
socioÍogicaÍ tcrms but to makc thosc two Íogoi oncc morc unrccog-
!n ordcr to makc my casc, ! sccm to bcputting myscÍI in an in·
in thc history oIthc scicnccs without bypassing its tcchnicaÍ contcnt
and without rcIusing thc hcÍp that thc sociaÍ scicnccs might Íikc to
oIIcr. Jhc conditions oIIaiÍurc, at Ícast, arc cÍcar cnough. ! shaÍÍIaiÍ
inthrcccascs. iIthis anaÍysis bccomcs a socioÍogizingrcduction oIa
scicnccto its 'sociaÍ conditions," iIitoIIcrsasatisIactoryanaÍysisoI
or iIit has rccoursc to notions and tcrms bcÍonging to thc IoÍkÍorc
oI thc pcopÍc studicd ¦tcrms such as 'prooI," 'cIhcacy," 'dcmon-
stration," 'rcaÍity," and 'rcvoÍution") .
A Method fOf Composing OUf World
Vhat wiÍÍ wc taÍk aboutr Vhich actors wiÍÍ wc bcgin withr Vhat
intcntions andwhatintcrcstwiÍÍwcattributcto thcmr
! uscdocs not rcguircusto dccidcin advancc on aÍistoIactors and
possibÍc actions. !I wc opcn thc scicntihc Íitcraturc oIthc timc, wc
hndstoricsthat dchncIoruswho arcthcmainactors,whathappcns
to thcm, what triaÍs thcy undcrgo. Vc do not havc to dccidc Ior
^or do wc havc to know in advancc what is important and what is
ncgÍigibÍc and whatcauscs shiIts inthc battÍc wc obscrvc around us.
5cmiotic studics oIthctcxts oIthctimcwiÍÍdothc¡ob oIinterdef
nition Ior us. Jakc, Ior instancc, this articÍc by JyndaÍÍ. 'Considcr
10 War and Peace of Microbes
aÍÍ thc iÍÍs that thcsc IÍoatingparticÍcs havc intÍictcd on mankind, in
historicandprchistorictimcs . . . Jhisdcstructivcactioniscontinuing
today and continucd tor ccnturics, withoutthc sÍightcst suspicion as
to its causcs bcingpcrmittcdto thc sickworÍd. Vc havcbccnstruck
by invisibÍc scourgcs, wc havc taÍÍcn into ambushcs, and it is onÍy
today that thc Íight otscicncc is rcaching thosc tcrribÍc opprcssors"
¦ I8//,p. 800) . '²
Vithout any othcr prcsuppositions, wc can takc this scntcncc as
dchncs actors. Arc thcy humanornonhumanr ^onhuman. Vhatdo
thc bcginning ot timc. Vhat has happcncdr An cvcnt. thcy havc
bccomc visibÍc. Vhathas madcthcmvisibÍcr 5cicncc,anothcractor,
whichmustin turn bcrccordcd and dchncd by its pcrtormanccs.'³
Jhc tactthatwcdo not knowinadvanccwhatthcworÍdismadc
up ot is not a rcason tor rctusing to makc a start, bccausc other
storytcÍÍcrssccmtoknowandarcconstantÍy dchningthc actors that
surround thcm-what thcywant, what causcs thcm, andthcwaysin
which thcy can bc wcakcncd or Íinkcd togcthcr. Jhcsc storytcÍÍcrs
attributc causcs, datc cvcnts, cndow cntitics with guaÍitics, cÍassity
actors. Jhc anaÍyst docs not nccd to know morc than thcy, hc has
onÍyto bcgin at any point, byrccordingwhat cach actor says otthc
othcrs. Îc shouÍdnottry to bc rcasonabÍc and to imposc somc prc-
by thc writcrs
studicd. Jhc onÍy task otthc anaÍyst is to toÍÍow thc
!orinstancc, an anonymous cditoriaÍ, writtcn ¡ust attcr thc!ranco-
ÏrussianVar, statcs. ¨!t is scicncc andthc scicntihcspiritthathavc
congucrcd us. Vithout a compÍctc rcsurrcction ot thc grcat !rcnch
scicnccottormcrtimcs,thcrcisnopossibÍcsaÍvation" ¦ I8/Z,p. I0Z).
dctcatr'¹ !s it a ¨taÍsc" rcprcscntation otwhat happcncdr !s this a
purc ¨cxprcssion" otÍatc ninctccnth-ccntury scicntismr Jhc anaÍyst
docs not havc to know. !n I8/Z thc cditoriaÍist attributcd dctcat to
thcdrihatworkinthc cditoriaÍ. Youwantrcvcngcr asksthcwritcr.
!rcnchmcn. ßut what is it that watchcs ovcr hcaÍthr Ncdicinc. And
scicnccs in turn madc up otr Noncy. And whcrc docs moncy comc
Introduction 1 1
subsidicstor rcscarch. ¨Jhccutssparcthoscwho shoutthcÍoudcst,"
writcs thc cditoriaÍist. Îcncc his advicc. writc to your dcputics, so
that thc govcrnmcnt wiÍÍ not cut thc budgct, so that thcrc wiÍÍ bc
Íaboratorics, sothatthcrc wiÍÍbcscicnccs,sothatthcrcwiÍÍbcmcd-
icinc, so that. . . so that. . . and so that wc can wrcak our rcvcngc
at Íast.Vc donothavcto knowwhatthiswritcr ¨rcaÍÍy" wants any
or Kutuzov ¨rcaÍÍy" wrotc in thcir marching ordcrs.¹` !t is cnough
thatthc writcr has madc up his cditoriaÍ insuch awaythat arcadcr
hisdcputyagainstbudgctcuts. Jhismovcmcntottransltion is cnough
torus.¹¯Vc had ourcycs hxcd onthc¨bÍucÍincotthcVosgcs."^ow
wc havc thcm rivctcd on thc shcct ot papcr arguing that AÍsacc wiÍÍ
bc won back more quickly by mcans ot this passagc through thc
Jhc mcthod! uschcrc consistssimpÍyintoÍÍowingaÍÍthcsctrans-
Íations, dritts, and divcrsions as thcyarc madc by thc writcrs otthc
itis too mcticuÍous to covcr apcriod othttyycars and thousands ot
pagcs, thc scmiotic mcthod is hcrc Íimitcd to thc intcrdchnition ot
actors andtothcchains ottransÍations.
! appÍy thcsc simpÍc tooÍs to thc anaÍysis otthrccpcriodicaÍs. thc
Revue Scientifque, Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, andConcours Medi
cal. Jhc Revue Scientifque, a gcncraÍ wcckÍy rcvicw toundcd in thc
mid-ninctccnthccntury andwrittcn byscicntiststhcmscÍvcs tor awidcr
cducatcdpubÍic,taÍÍssomcwhcrcbctwccnScientifc American andthc
gcncraÍ-intcrcst pagcs ot Science. ! rcad through thc whoÍc ot thc
¡ournaÍ trom I8/0, thc ycar OÍ !rancc`s dctcat, to IºIº, thc datc ot
thc rcvcngc but aÍso ota tcrribÍc dctcat atthchands otinhucnza. !
did not conhnc myscÍt to a particuÍar scicncc but rccordcd aÍÍ thc
rctcrcnccs madc by thc authors to discascs, bioÍogy, hcaÍth, Ïastcur,
microbcs, doctors, and hygicnc. !or cach ot thc rcIcvant articÍcs !
skctchcd thc intcrdchnitionotthc actors and thctransÍationchains,
without tryingto dchnc a priori how thc actors wcrc madc up and
rankcd. Vithout bcing cxhaustivc, ! ncvcrthcÍcss rccordcd thc grcat
throughoutthc pagcs otthc Revue.
JhcAnnales de l'Institut Pasteur, toundcd in I88/, is thcothciaÍ
12 War and Peace of Microbes
scicntihc ¡ournaÍ otthc !nstitut Ïastcur. !n this casc aÍÍ articÍcs trom
I88/to IºIºwcrc trcatcd and codihcd according to a singÍc spcci-
hcation that was aÍso borrowcd trom scmiotics. UnÍikc thc study ot
thc Revue, this onc invoÍvcd rcading thc compÍctc corpus and thus
ottcrcd a prccisc idca otthc othciaÍ scicntihc output ot thc !nstitut.
Jhc Concours Medical, a pcriodicaÍ pubÍishcd by a !rcnch mcdicaÍ
union,wasstudicd onÍytorthccruciaÍycars I885-Iº05.!nthiscasc
! rccordcd onÍy thc cxpÍicitalÍusions to Ïastcurism, without trying,
as inthc Revue, to rctracc thc path otimpÍicit transÍations as wcÍÍ.
5incc thc documcntary matcriaÍ is Íimitcdto thcsc thrcc ¡ournaÍs,
mycttort to cxpÍain bactcrioÍogy and!rcnchsocictysimuÍtancousÍy
may bc ¡udgcd soÍcÍy on this basis. Ïastcur said hc couÍd not cÍaim
Jhisundcrtaking docs notpurportto add anythingto thchistoryot
as a brain scicntist uscs a rat, cuttingthrough it in ordcr to toÍÍow
ot a scicncc and its context. !orthisrcasonthcprcscntation otthc
documcntary matcriaÍs docs not toÍÍow thchistoricaÍpath butrathcr
!ortunatcÍy, thc pcriod ottcrs us a grcat many controÍ groups that
rcact dittcrcntÍy to Ïastcur`s cntcrprisc. Îygicnists, bioÍogists, sur-
gcons, sanitary cngnccrs,vctcrinary surgcons,physioÍogstsÍikcCÍaudc
choÍcra, diphthcria, tctanus, ycÍÍowtcvcr,rabics, andthcpÍaguc, aÍÍ
movcaccordingto dittcrcntpaths, ottcring us thcsort otintcrcsting
contusion that JoÍstoy dcscribcs in thc battÍcs ot his book. Îcrc !
contrast thc dittcrcnt controÍ groups with onc anothcr, so thatcach
bctwccn socicty andits scicnccs.
Strong Microbes and
Is It Necessary to Speak of "Pasteur" or Even of Pasteur?
Jhc countcr-cxampÍc that l havc choscn to study is so obviousÍy
incontrovcrtibÍc bccausc otthc way itis habituaÍÍytormuÍatcd. ¨thc
rcvoÍutionintroduccdinto mcdicincbyÏastcur."Vhatwc havc hcrc
a dominant point ot vicw-a point otvicw that was thcrctorc vic-
torious in a battÍc toughtwith othcr agcnts pursuing othcr aims at
and mcdicinc in thc Íatc ninctccnth ccnturyr !t is not immcdiatcÍy
in that trcatisc on poÍiticaÍ phiÍosophy which JoÍstoy wrotc undcr
thcnamc otWar and Peace.
lnthat book, JoÍstoysummonsuphundrcdsotcharactcrs to givc
dcpth to what tor him is thc csscntiaÍ gucstion. Vhatcan onc man
dor Vhat docs a grcat man Íikc ^apoÍcon or Kutuzov rcaÍÍy dor h
14 War and Peace of Microbes
or gcnius ota tcw mcn. JoÍstoy succccdcd, and thc whoÍc otrcccnt
history supports his thcorics as to thc rcÍativc importancc ot grcat
mcn in rcÍation to thc ovcraÍÍ movcmcnts that arc rcprcscntcd or
appropriatcd byatcw cponymous hgurcs. Jhis istruc at Ícastwhcrc
politicians arc conccrncd. Vhcn wc arc dcaÍing with scientists, wc
stiÍÍ admirc thc grcat gcnius and virtuc ot onc man and too rarcÍy
suspcct thc importancc otthc torccs that madc him grcat. Vc may
by thc powcr ot his mind aÍonc. Vhy is it so dithcuÍt to gain ac-
ccptancc, in thc casc otthc grcat mcn ot scicncc, tor what is takcn
as scÍt-cvidcnt in thc casc otgrcat statcsmcnr
!tJoÍstoyis indignant againstthc ^apoÍconichagiography, what
arc wc to say otthc attributcs that thc !rcnch havc givcn to Louis
Ïastcur tromthc outsctr Îc did cvcrything, hc rcgcncratcd, rcvoÍu-
whosc dawn you wiÍÍ soon bc wcÍcoming, as didthc ccntury otÏas-
tcur" ¦ I885,p.I0/) .ltisnotgivcntocvcrybodytobccomcaccntury,
town and viÍÍagc in !rancc, or to prcvcnt pcopÍc trom spitting, to
pcrsuadcthcm to dig drains, to gct vaccinatcd, or to crcatc scrothcr-
apy. Ïastcur did cvcrything, by his own powcr, or at Ícast through
thc powcr ot his idcas. 5uch a vicw is no morc tcnabÍc than is thc
statcmcnt1hat Kutuzov dctcatcd^apoÍcon. ÒtaÍÍgrcatmcn,itmust
bc said. ¨Jhc onÍy conccption capabÍc otcxpÍaining thc movcmcnt
torccs otcntircÍy dittcrcnt kinds, aÍÍ ot which arc incommcnsuratc
with thc movcmcnt obscrvcd."¹ Jhc notion otpowcr, bc it that ot
idcas or ot poÍiticaÍ cÍout, is onc otthcsc misconccptions. ¨5o Íong
andcrs, Luthcrs orVoÍtaircs, and notthc historics otu//-absoÍutcÍy
u//-thosc who takc part in an cvcnt, it is impossibÍc not to ascribc
activity towards a ccrtain cnd. And thc onÍy conccption ot such a
kindknown to historians is thc idca otpowcr" ¦JoÍstoy. I8/º, p.
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists I5
!tthc whoÍc otÏuropc transtormcd its conditions otcxistcncc at
thc cnd ot thc Íast ccntury, wc shouÍd not attributc thc cthcacy ot
this cxtraordinary Ícap torwardto thc grcat gcnius ot asingÍc man.
it ¦at Ícast in!rancc). Ïastcur`s contcmporarics,thc Ïastcurians, and
that Ïastcur did not do cvcrything ¨aÍonc," but thcy guickÍy wcnt
¨Jhcrc was a man," says ßouÍcy, onc ot Ïastcur`s hagiographcrs,
¨and to tcÍÍ oIthc grcat things that ! havc to rcÍatc, ! shaÍÍ borrow
otmind" ¦ I88I, p. 546) . !ndccd,wcarctcmptcdto taÍÍdownonour
knccs in admiration, sincc thc rapid, compÍctc transIormation ot a
socicty is attributcd to thc ¨thought" ot onc man. ¨Arc you not
contoundcd,"JrcÍat cxcÍaims, ¨bythc torcc otthcgcniuswho couÍd
winsuchbattÍcs r` ¦ I8º5,p. I/0). Ycs,otcourscwcarccontoundcd-
itwc contusc thc torcc ota man with that attributed to him, itwc
contusc Ïastcur with ¨Ïastcur," whom trom now on ! wiÍÍ pÍacc
Why shouÍd wc stiÍÍ do tor Ïastcur`s gcnius what wc no Íongcr do
tor ^apoÍcon`s or KothschiÍd`sr !t wc hnd it casy cnough to dcaÍ
with thc Kussian campaign intcrms otsocioÍogy or cconomics, why
arc wc so rcÍuctant to appÍy socioÍogyto Ïastcurian bactcrioÍogyr
invariabÍy supposc that whcrc scicncc is conccrncd, thc dittusion ot
anidca,agcsturc, atcchniguc,poscsnoparticuÍarprobÍcm, onÍythc
is borrowcd trom cÍassicaÍ mcchanics. tcchnigucs, cndowcd with in-
crtia, a rcsistancc to torcc, aÍwaysrctainthatpropcrty, and can onÍy
Íoscitinthc coursc otsucccssivcshocks.VithsuchamodcÍ,wc must
attributc to Ïastcur`siaboratory thc totality otthc torcc and rcgard
as incrt masscs aÍÍ thc sociaÍ groups that arc capabÍc onÍy ottrans-
mittingthc torcc or absorbingpartotit ¦itis said otthcm that thcy
¨adapt to progrcss" or ¨rcsist"). ßut it must bc cÍcarÍy undcrstood
thatin sociaÍphysicsthcrcisno Íawotincrtia.Jo convinccsomconc
that an cxpcrimcnthas succccdcd, that a tcchniguc is cttcctivc, that
aproot is truÍy dccisivc, thcrc mustbc more than one actor. Anidca
16 War and Peace of Microbes
idcas,wc hadnomingmorcthan thctorccotÏastcurandhis coÍÍab-
orators, thosc idcas wouÍd ncvcr havc Íctt thc waÍÍs ot thc LcoÍc
ncvcr movcs otits own accord. ltrcguircs a torcc to tctch it, scizc
uponittorits ownmotivcs, movc it, and ohcn transtorm it.²
Jhis vision otthings poscs no particuÍar probÍcm, cxccpt that it
rcgards aÍÍthcsitcswhcrcaparticuÍarpracticcisdittuscdas madcot
otaÍÍ his charactcrs in ordcr to takc trom Cacsar thc things that arc
not Cacsar`s. 5imiÍarÍy, trccdom otaction must bc givcn back to aÍÍ
thcagcntsot!rcnch socictyinordcrto decompose Ïastcur`s cthcacy.
Whcn l bcgan to rcad thc Revue Scientifque attcr thc dctcat ot
Ícss ot his idcas. Îc is not yct thc intcrccssor that hc wouÍd Íatcr
bccomc. Îis namc is not yct associatcd with anything rcÍating to
discasc. Òthcr things arc discusscd, and thc cvidcncc prcscntcd docs
not comc trom his Íaboratory.
The Indisputable Confict between Health and Wealth
AÍthoughthcauthorsotthc Revue rarcÍyspcakotÏastcurordiscuss
his idcas, thcyvicw onc idca as so indisputabÍc that it bccomcs thc
prcmisctoraÍÍ thc argumcnts to bctound inmcRevue tromthchrst
numbcr otthc ncw scrics, bcgun ¡ust ahcr thc sicgc otÏaris, to thc
Íastnumbcrstudicd,inDcccmbcr 1919. Jhis idca,whichthcyrcgard
as ovcrwhcÍmingÍy, univcrsaÍÍy scÍt-cvidcnt, is ¨thc urgcnt nccd tor
¨ltisto thc doctors that a Íargcpartotthcwork otrcgcncration
taÍÍs it such work can cvcr bc carricd out, tor thc hrst condition ot
otthc Revue ( 1872, p. 102) . !rom|uÍy 1871 on, Ïastcur cÍaims, hc
was mobiÍizing scicncc tor thc curc ot ¨thc Ïrussian cankcr" ( 1871,
pp. 73-77). !t was not onÍy !rancc, humiÍiatcd and dctcatcd, that
had to bc rcgcncratcd, it was aIso mankind in gcncraÍ and, morc
particuÍarÍy, thc urban masscs. ln 1 872 5tokcs sums up thc statc ot
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 17
thc ncw ßritish mcdicinc, aÍrcady highÍy dcvcÍopcd, and dchncs thc
ncw dcaÍ ot poÍiticaÍ action. ¨!nstcad otarguing ovcr principÍcs and
sccking thc absoÍutc, this pcopÍc ¸thc ßritish], gittcd with a grcat
practicaÍ scnsc, is painstakingÍy crccting thc props that support thc
( 1872, p. 14) .
ot ¨sociaÍ" not ¨poÍiticaÍ" rctorms, thc author insists on pointing
out-in which hrst pubÍic mcdicinc and thcn thc bioÍogicaÍ scicnccs
¨Vhat an opportunc momcnt to appÍy aÍÍ thosc scicntihc torccs to
prcvcntativcmcdicinc andconscgucntÍyinthc sociaÍordcr|Jhcrcarc
hundrcds ot miÍÍions ot sub¡cctsot thc Crown ot LngÍand, whosc
and an cnormous hcÍd ot miscry, physicaÍ and moraÍ dcgradation,
and aconstantsourccotdcstructionthatmaycxtcnd tothcconhncs
otmcn is to bctound" ( 1872, p. 20).
Nany historians havc insistcd onthis obscssion otthc timc with
thc rcgcncration ot man.¹ !t scrvcs as aprcmisc tor aÍÍ thc articÍcs in
thc Revue not onÍy on mcdicinc but aÍso, ovcr thc ycars, on gym-
nastics, coÍonization, intcrnationaÍ tradc, cducation, thc cconomy,
¨thcgrcatcstpcriÍthatthc!rcnchnationhascvcrhadto tacc, atany
pcriodin its history." AÍÍ thc articÍcs rcpcat thc vicw in onc way or
anothcr that what wc nccd arc strong mcn. ¨Jhc hrst conccrn ot
statcsmcn today is thc rcconstitution, thc rcorganization ot human
Íitc. Jhc indcpcndcncc, thc vcry cxistcncc otthc countryin thc ncar
tuturc, is at stakc" ¦Dccaisnc. 1875, p. ºJJ). !t shouÍd bc strcsscd
that aÍÍ thcsc guotations arc takcn trom authors who arc cxtrcmcÍy
dubious about contagionist thcorics, havc hardÍy hcard ot ascpsia,
andarcwritingsomchttccnycars before thcsÍightcstappÍication ot
ßutwhat is this movcmcntitscÍt bascd onr Jhis gucstion, raiscd
by historians, docs nothavc to bc answcrcd bythcscmioticmcthod
! havc choscn to toÍÍow. 5incc aÍÍ thc writcrs takc this basic Íink
bctwccn hcaÍth and wcaÍth as scttÍcd, sincc aÍÍ otthcm takc hygicnc
as thc ¨addrcsscc" ot aÍÍ thcir articÍcs, and sincc this charactcr was
constitutcd bctorc thc pcriod undcr considcration, ! couÍd movc on
18 War and Peace of Microbes
to sketch the backdrop against whiH the whole Pasteurian drama-
turgy unfolds. This sketch can be made in two successive stages. the
hrst presents an infrastjucture that e×plains the energy accumulated
during the period; but the second higligts anomer science, another
group of scientists who have already prepared the ground for the
arrival of the Pasteurians.
For those who cannot accept any story unless it has an "infra-
structure," it is possible to give the "cause" ol the whole Pasteurian
adventure. !n simple terms, Frazer sums up this motive force of the
period, the "primum movens" that unleashed all those energies but
was itself moved by nothing and discussed by nobody.¯ The conüict
between health and wealth reached such a breaking point in the mid-
century that wealm was threatened by bad health. "The consumption
of human life as a combustible for the production of wealth" led nrst
in the £nglish cities, then in the continental ones, to a veritable "energy
crisis. " The men, as everyone said constantly, were of poor quality.
It could not go on like that. The cities could not go on being death
chambers and cesspools, the poor being wretched, ignorant, bug-
ridden, contagious vagabonds. The revival and e×tension of e×ploi-
tation ¸or prosperity, if you prefer) required a better-educated pop-
ulation and clean, airy, rebuilt cities, with drains, fountains, schools,
parks, gymnasiums, dispensaries, day nurseries. By the time that con-
cens us, none of this was controversial. !t was me starting point from
which hygenists set out to discover latent forces and to set up par-
The concepts of infrastructure thus regards immense energies as
being mobilized by this contradiction of healm and wealth throughout
£urope. Such an upheaval of cities was seen not as a revolution but
as a harmonization, in Stokes's words, between "national health" and
"national prosperity and morality" ( 187, p. 20) . The favorite met-
aphor of the time, the difference in potential, denned a vast energy
source into whiH all the actors of the period could plug themselves
in order to advance their concens for the ne×t nfty years. This im-
mense reservoir of energy was a force of the kind demanded by Tol-
stoy, one that was commensurate to the social body itself. !n this
infrastructure story, Pasteurians are one of the many groups that use
the same difference in potential, even if the word "Pasteur" came to
designate in France the whole of this universal movement of regen-
£very time historians speak of an infrastructure that can e×plain
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 19
the development of a science, the sociologist of science, devious and
suspicious, looks for what former scientinc professions have already
done to create this vast reservoir of energy. Often no study is available,
and the sociologist has to abandon the ground and believe, like anyone
else, in the idea of a pree×istent social conte×t, at least for the period
and the science he is not studying. Fortunately, Coleman has made
an e×cellent study of the period just preceding mine.³ In this study
we see another group of scientists, another profession, led not by
Pasteur but by Villerme, busy creating this famous "infrastructure"
and this famous conüict between Health and Wealth.º Before the
period under consideration we do not have a "longue duree" that
would act as a cause to push or pull the Pasteurians, but we have
Villerme and his friends constituting, throug the new profession of
scientinc hygiene and through the elaboration of national statistics,
a link between mortality and degree of wealth. This link had also to
be created, like the future link between laboratory and medicine or
between attenuated microbes and diseases.'º Without the creation of
statistical bureaus and "tableau×," without the application of political
economy to this sociomedical problem, the "difference in potential"
would not have e×isted. The social conte×t of a science is rarely made
up of a conte×t; it is most of the time made up of a previous science.
Hygienists, the Disputed Interpreters of Regeneration
I shall say no more about this "infrastructure," since it inspired the
articles without itself ever being discussed. Yet I must say something
about the nrst translators of this great conflict between health and
wealth, the hygienists. Actually, the Revue does not denne who they
are. It speaks of hygiene, the "sender," as the semioticians say, of all
the actions on health. The boundaries of hygiene are vague, and this
vagueness is precisely what allows its practitioners to e×press more
or less everyone's interesrs and, very soon, those of the Pasteurians.
Here again we must not, in our study of the te×ts, be more precise
than the Revue itself. For our purposes, hygienists are all those who
ca|l themselves hygienists.
Hygiene in the Revue Scientifque can be denned as a style. An
article, especially a scientinc one, is a little machine for displacing
interests, beliefs, and aligning them in such a way as to point the
reader, almost inevitably, in a particular direction. Scientihc rhetoric
often channels the reader's attention in a single central direction, like
20 War and Peace of Microbes
a valley cutting through mountains. But the rhetoric of the hygienists
does not possess this great üow. !t has no central argument. !t is made
up of an accumulation of advice, precautions, recipes, opinions, sta-
tistics, remedies, regulations, anecdotes, case studies. !t is, indeed, an
accumulation. A hygienist like Bouchardat always adds, without sub-
tracting anything at all. The reason for this style, which in the literary
criticism of an earlier day would be called "involved" or "cautious,"
is simple. !llness, as denned by the hygienists, can be caused by almost
anything. Typhus may be due to a contagion, but it may also be due
to the soil, the air, overcrowding. Mothing must be ignored, nothing
dismissed. Too many causes can be found side by side to allow for
any dennite position on the matter. £verything must be considered.
"The role and variety ot the causes of typhoid make it necessary to
combat them by equally varied and numerous means" ¸Colin. 1 882,
p. 397). !t was not out of ignorance but on the contrary out of an
e×cess of knowledge that the hygienists accumulated their opinions.
Mone of them is absolutely certain, they admit, but none of them can
really be abandoned. Bouchardat makes the ingenuous admission. "!
do not speud my hours of sleep in intensely choleraic places." He
advises the use of disinfectants but adds, "they must not allow us to
ignore evidence that is not understood but is based on strict and
repeated observation" ( 1883, p. 1 78) .
To make fun of this style would be to fail to understand the nature
of an all-round combat. !f anything can cause illness, nothing can be
ignored; it is necessary to be able to act everywhere and on everything
at once. The style reüects the action planned by the hygienists. Many
of the characteristics of so-called pre-Pasteur hygiene are to be e×-
plained by this situation. The hygene congresses were, like Bouchar-
dat's style, an attic in which everything was kept because sometime
it might come in handy. !n 1 876, for instance, the subjects under
discussion included water, lifesavers, gymnastics, women's work,
"methods of developing among the laboring classes a spirit of thrift
and the saving habit," alcoholism, and working-class housing ¸Anon. .
1876, p. 4OO). These congresses were a catchall, because illness could
be caused by anything and because scientists had to be ready to set
off enthusiastically in any direction.
Te consequences were predictable. Articles on hygene in the Revue
were shot through at nrst by an astonishing combination of hubris
and discouragement. Both had the same cause. Since anything might
cause illness, it was necessary to act upon everything at once, but to
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 21
act everywhere i s to act nowhere. Sometimes the hygienists give a
dennition of their science that is coe×tensive with reality. They
to be acting on food, urbanism, se×uality, education, the army. Moth-
ing that is human is alien to them. £ven the human being is too narrow
a neld, they must concern themselves also with air, light, heat, water,
and the soil ¸Trélat: 1890, pp. 705-71 1) .
But to understand everything i s to understand nothing. So the same
articles reveal a sense of division and "abasement" ¸Landouzy. 1885,
p. 100). Indeed, the fundamental problem of the hygienists is that
this multiplicity, so short on remedies and details, did not protect
them against failure. However much they might take precautions
against everything and observe everywhere, disease returned, as if no
n×ed causes could be attributed to it. On each of its returns another
cause had to be added. The surgeon Kirmission writes, after emerging
from that period. "So we accumulated all the precautions of general
hygiene, but failed to remove the purulent infection from the
wards . . . In demonstrating the inanity of all the discussions on hos-
pital hygiene as a way of preventing hospital infection, e×perience
necessarily cast profound discredit on the pious wishes of the sur-
geons" ( 1888, p. 296) .
For all these reasons it was necessary to speak of "morbid spon-
taneity." This doctrine, which is ridiculed today, corresponded per-
fectly to the style, mode of action, and facts, since disease appeared
sometimes here, sometimes there, sometimes at one season, sometimes
at another, sometimes responding to 3 remedy, sometimes spreading,
only to disappear as suddenly. This strange, erratic behavior was well
recorded by statistics, the major science of the mid-nineteenth century,
which corresponded perfectly to the analysis of such impalpable phe-
In view of these problems, it was also logical that any article on
contagion, on the microbe as "e×ternal cause" of disease, on the law
that "a microbe equals disease," should appear so derisory. To any
argument on contagion itself a budding hygienist could always oppose
a hundred countere×amples. This disproportion between the problems
of the hygienist and the simplistic character of the doctrines of con-
tagion helps to e×plain how the Pasteurians had to transform the
microbe in order
to convince the hygienists. The hygienists formed
the vanguard of a huge, century-old movement which had already
transformed the British system of health and which claimed to be
spreading everywhere in order to act on all the causes of ill health.
22 War and Peace of Microbes
But by its very scope and ambition this movement remained weak,
like an army trying to defend a long frontier by spreading its forces
There was no way of concentrating the movement's £orces at a few
points only. !t could not ignore me details that it had accumulated
for hundreds of years, unless it could hierarchize them in order of
importance. As soon as hygiene became moden, that is, turned the
hygene that had preceded it into "ancient" hygiene, it was by its very
"lightness" that it was recogized. As Bouchardat remarks· "!f, at
the beginning of this century, we strove to understand everything in
hygiene, today we must leave to one side a mass of useless or un-
provable details" ¸Landouzy. 1885, p. 100) .
Was it possible to denne in advance, negatively, mat e×cess of!orce
which, retrospectively, hygiene seemed to lack? ! think so. What was
needed was a source of forces to e×plain me astonishing variability
of morbidity, its spontaneity, and its local character. !n order to
interest the social movement of which the hygienists were the spokes-
men, a doctrine was needed that e×plained the variation of the vir-
ulence in terms compauble wim me problems involved in transformIng
the towns and the living environment to which the hygienists had
devoted their attention. This was not simply an "intellectual" re-
quirement. !n the absence of such a focal point, all the energies of
the social movement uanslated by the hygenists were dissipated mroug
Ûnetworks, all of them relauvely equal m size and merefore doomed
to e×tinction before being able to reach any of the great goals that
the movement had set itself. At the time÷mat is, before Pasteur had
made himself necessary to the hygienists÷one thing was certain. the
doctrine of contagiousness was inadequate to fulnll me hygienists'
The Movement of Hygiene Left to Itself
To speak of hygiene was already to take up a position. !t was to go
back. !t was to U to distinguish retrospectively what had been in-
tentionally confused. To try to see what the hygienists would have
been before they became closely involved in Pasteurism was, as it
were, to set a pyramid that had been standing on its point back on
its base. Tolstoy was right here, too. A crowd may move a mountain;
a single man cannot. !f, therefore, we say of a man that he has moved
a mountain, it is because he has been credited with ¸or has appro-
priated) the work of the crowd that he claimed to command but that
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 23
he also followed. An enormous social movement ran through the
social body in order to reconstruct leviathan in such a way that it
could provide shelter for the new urban masscs. 'ª The hygienists used
this movement to attack disease on every side or, in their language,
to act "on the pathogenic terrain. " The Pasteurians, who numbered,
let us not forget, no more than a few dozen men at hrst, set out in
turn to direct and to translate the hygienist movement. !n France, the
result was such that the hygienist movement came to be identined
with the man Pasteur, and ultimately, following a very French habit,
the man Pasteur was reduced to the ideas of Pasteur, and his ideas
to their "theoretical foundations. " !n the end, then, what emerged
was that inverted world stigmatized by Tolstoy. a man moves a moun-
tain by his genius alone.
The nrst people to undergo this reversal were the readers of the
Revue Scientifque. !ndeed, it is almost impossible to discen a "pure"
hygienist movement completely separate from the e×pression given it
by the Pasteurians. However, even at the cost of a nction, it is crucial
to rediscover, at least in imagination, the crowds moving the moun-
tain, so that we can understand later how the Pasteurians came to be
their spokesmen and were regarded as the "cause" of the movement.
Where would the hygienist movement have gone without Pasteur and
his followers? !n its own direction. Without the microbe, without
vaccine, even without the doctrine of contagion or the variation in
virulence, everything that was done could have been done. cleaning
up the towns; digging drains; demanding running water, light, air,
and heat. '¹ Pettenkoffer, who swallowed cholera bacilli without be-
coming ill but made Munich a healthy city through large-scale public
works, is for everyone the eponym of this attitude in history. Verne's
Les ! UU milions de fa Begum, which contrasts Hygie, the healthy
French town, with Moson, the unhealthy "Boche" town, without the
slightest mention of a microbe, is the literary counterpart of Petten-
koffer. The fulcrum provided by bacteriology should not let us forget
that the enormous social movement was working for that mi×ture of
urbanism, consumer protection, ecology ¸as we would say nowadays),
defense of the environment, and moralization summed up by the word
hygiene. !f we do not restore the power ratio between the social
movement at work throughout £urope and the few bacteriological
laboratories, we cannot understand the real contribution of those
laboratories, just as we cannot understand what Kutuzov did if we
attribute to him the entire movement of his army.
Mowhere is the disproportion between that hygienist movement
24 War and Peace of Microbes
and the "small group" of Pasteurians more clearly seen than in an
article of 1884 on the hygiene e×hibition in London. Such e×hibitions,
which were frequent at the time, "bring together," reports the jour-
nalist, "several fairly comple× orders of knowledge, constituting in
short whatever may render life healthy and even comfortable" ¸Anon. .
1884, p. 386) . There were tastings of Liebig soups ¸Cerman chem-
istry), refrigerated meat ¸British thermodynamics) , and pasteurized
milk ¸French microbiology) . People admired hygienic clothes, or-
thopedic shoes, light-coIored furniture that could be dusted easily,
nlters to purify water, bidets to wash one's behind, and üushing sys-
tems to evacuate e×crement. Plans were discussed for drainage, ven-
tilators, windows, heating apparatuses÷anything that would allow
the four elements to circulate freely. There were life-sized models of
hygienic÷that is, airy and clean÷houses, hospitals, ambulances,
stretchers, crematoriums, classrooms, and even desks.
Bacteriology was indeed present in the e×hibition, in an interesting
way. To beginwim, it was dispersed throughout several sections. the
Chamberland nlter, from Pasteur's laboratory, was placed in the series
of nlters proposed by industrialists, pasteurized milk was part of the
new milk circuit, the incubator, deriving from "the e×periments of
Koch, Wolüugel, and Pettenkoffer in Cermany, and Vallin in France,"
had been developed by industrialists and was part of the legal dis-
infection departments, each of which had its own stand. Disinfectants
also had their place. "Te current cholera epidemic has given new
vigor to the study of disinfectants, a study that so far has given far
from satisfactory results and in which we will now have to take greater
account of the physiological and morbid properties of the specinc
organisms of contagious diseases" ¸p. 394). "To take greater account
oI' ÷that says everything. The products of bacteriology were added
to hygiene like some spice that increased its local euectiveness.
But this science was present in another way, too. `In the middle
of the main room are found the objects sent by M. Pasteur, by the
laboratory at Montsouris ¸run by Miquel, a microbiologist], and by
me municipal chemistry laboratory of the city of Paris." The author,
of course, tries to reduce the whole of the e×hibition to this section,
because he is a scientist and a nationalist. This laboratory, he writes,
"has made many people say what has been said aloud by an American.
'There was more hygiene in the French section than in the rest of the
exibition put together' " ¸p. 397) . This patriotism and bacterio-
centrism are honorable enough, but they contradict the whole of the
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 25
article. Pasteur's laboratory was only one among many others, and
it was surrounded by the e×hibits of innumerable industrialists, re-
formers, leagues for the propagation of this or that, professions, and
skills. It could not be reduced to that proliferation of e×hibits, but
neither could the entire e×hibition be reduced to the laboratory.
To reconstruct Pasteurism, it has to be said, even with a certain
degree of e×aggeration, that what the hygienist movement did with
Pasteur it would have done anyway without him. It would have made
the environment healthier. The vague words "contagon," "miasma,"
and even "dirt" were enough to put £urope in a state of siege, and
it defended itself by cordons sanitaires against the infectious diseases.
Of course, terrible diseases got through the cordons, but sometimes
there were victories, and that was no small achievement. This way of
isolating hygiene and trying to discover where it was going on its own
was not so arbitrary, since, after all, there is still a good deal of
controversy about the causes of the remarkable improvement in the
health of £uropeans between I8/I and Iº40.'¯The improvement is
still being attributed to new causes and new agents whenever a new
group sets out to weaken the position of medicine or the role of science
in medicine or to redistribute in a different way the respective roles
of therapy and prevention. The general rise in the standards of living
and nutrition, combined with "elementary" hygiene, would be enough
for some to e×plain most of the astonishing therapeutic successes that
the Pasteurians had attributed to the science founded by Pasteur.
£ven if this conüict does not concern us here, one thing is clear. It
is the hygienist movement that denned what was at stake, prescribed
the aims, posed the prcblems, demanded that others should solve
them, distributed praise or blame, and laid down priorities. It is also
the hygienist movement that galvanized people's energies, found the
money, and offered those who served it troops, goals, problems, and
energy. This is a crucial point, for it allows us to e×tract from the
magic circle of "science" much of what we rather hastily call "its
contents." The subjects that are studied and the problems that are
given priority make up, as we know, most of a discipline. The Pas-
teurians were to arrive on the scene like players in a game of Scrabble.
The "triple" words a
d "double" words werc already marked and
laid down. The Pasteurians translated these stakes and rules into their
own terms, but without the hygienists, it is clear that very little would
have been heard about them. The Pasteurians would have done some-
26 War and Peace of Microbes
If that penultimate sentence seems dubious, we have only to read
the British or American histories of the period. Bacteriology, com-
mon in these works, is far from being the source and cause of hygiene;
it is merely a ripple on the surface, an aspect, doubtless a crucial
support ot social hygiene, but no more than that. In these histories
Pasteur himself is merely one bacteriologist among others, and they
emphasize not so much Pasteur's ideas as certain practical applications
considered by the authors to be particularly important, such as meth-
ods of culture, incubation, and inoculation.
The Hygienists BeIieved Pasteur without Question
The Revue Scientifque reveals nrst of all the size of the social move-
ment for regeneration, indicates the translator of this movement, hy-
giene, and shows how uncertain and controversial the hygienists were.
It also shows, but less clearly, the disproportion that e×isted between
the hygienists and the Pasteurians. Finally, study of the Revue e×plains
why it is so difncult to decide how much should be attributed to each
group, or even to avoid the impression of a revolution.
It we recall the way in which different authors place Pasteur when
they begin to talk about him in the early I&&Os, we are struck by one
overwhelming fact. they do not argue over him; they trust him en-
tirely. We may of course attribute this trust to the quality of the
evidence produced by Pasteur, to the efncacy of the treatments pro-
posed÷in short, to the truth of Pasteurian science. But this is quite
impossible, nrst because, when others were presented with the same
evidence, it was regarded as disputable and second because the trust
accorded to Pasteur was so great that it must have been based on
something else.'³ If we convince someone of something, we must share
the efncacy of that conviction with the person whom we have con-
vinced. But if someone catches on at once, takes over what we have
said, and immediately generalizes it, e×pands it, and applies it to omer
things than those we originally had in mind, then we must attribute
a greater efncacy to the person who has understood than to the one
who has been understood. For Pasteur's arguments in the Revue Scien
tifque were not e×posed to sarcasm and doubt; they were seized on
avidly and e×trapolated well beyond the few results that he himself
was defending. The avidity of those who seized on what he said gives
us some idea of the e×tent of the social movement whose main outlines
I have been tracing. Let us look at it more closely.
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 27
In I8/I Chauveau writes in the Revue on the contagious diseases.
"We are already pressing forward, overtaking one another on the
road that leads to the most useful conquests of modern science" ¦ I8/I,
p. J6Z) . In I 8/6,well before the nrst studies on rabies, Tyndall con-
siders that the revolution carried out by Pasteur is already complete.
"It is only a question of time. " His conndence is such that he looks
to the future "with the interest of a man who sees a principle spreading
and becoming established that is destined to deliver medicine from
the reproach of empiricism, to raise it to the rank of a true science,
and to deliver to the doctors those invisible enemies, as the celebrated
Cohn called them, who hide in the air we breathe and the water we
drink." He adds. "I doubt whether in ten years from now there will
remain in £ngland a single doctor willing to support the ideas that
they thought nt to advance against Pasteur ¸in denying contagion] "
¦ I8/6,p. 560) . The year I886was not a bad prediction. But Tyndall
did not have to be a prophet to propose such a date. It was a matter
of elementary technological forecasting on the basis of a research
program that had already been initiated; all that had to be done was
to wait and pick the fruit.
The British were of course more advanced than the French, but
Pasteur's compatriots were not lagging behind. £ven the prudent Bou-
chardat did not hesitate to write on the subject of the plague that it
would be necessary "to isolate and cultivate the microorganism as
Pasteur would have done" ¦ I8/º,p. ºI8) . Richet, editor of the Revue
and a convinced Pasteurian, supported in I880the project for a na-
tional award for Pasteur, "so that Monsieur Pasteur may give to his
researches into the contagious diseases of animals all the developments
it potenrially has" ¦ I880, p. J5) .
This was written i n I880. How could Richet know how many
developments the few laboratory cases would have? If someone bet
a token and someone else immediately bet a hundred, how are we to
understand the conndence of the second bettor? The prodigious de-
velopments given by Richet and his peers to what Pasteur was pro-
posing must be attributed to them. They knew that they were going
to amplify these propositions with their own. After Pouilly-le-Fort,
Richet e×tends the efncacy of the vaccine without the shadow of a
doubt. "Anthra× will soon be a thing of the past" ¦ I88I, p. I6I) .
Aher the cure of |oseph Meister alone, Richet e×claims. "And now
that we can cure rabies, we have only to e×pand and facilitate the
treatment" ¦ I886,p. Z8º) . The year before, Landouzy e×claims: "Yes,
28 War and Peace of Microbes
gentlemen, the day will come when, thanks to militant, scientinc hy-
giene, diseases will disappear as certain antediluvian animal species
have disappeared ¸ I&&5, p. IO7) .
Yet no disease had disappeared. The conndence in the "way laid
down" by Pasteur must therefore derive from something other than
the facts, hard facts. The conndence was not one that came only fom
Pasteur, but one that üowed back on to Pasteur and which he made
full use of. The Pasteur of the Revue Scientifque was not an obscure
hero who was nghting alone against all and who had to convince his
irremediably skeptical adversaries step by step ¸Vallery-Radot. I9II) .
Mo, he had only to open his mouth, and others would turn his results
into generalizations about every disease. A peculiar revolution indeed!
To be sure, once Richet became its editor, the Revue was on Pasteur's
side and defended him "beyond the limit of all scientinc prudence,"
one might say. When a timid challenge is raised, Richet, his üank
guard, writes with condescension. "It is no bad thing if a discordant
voice is raised amid a concert of praise. Perhaps it will encourage M.
Pasteur to provide us with a few new discoveries as fruitful as the
previous ones" ¸ I&&2, p. 449).
That the Revue and all its authors should be so partial, so chau-
vinistic, so imprudent, shows the e×tent to which trust was placed in
Pasteur, e×actly as money is placed in a trust fund. The reader must
now understand that, if the hygienist movement had not been pre-
sented nrst, it would have been necessary to attribute a "prodigious
efhcacy" to the e×periments of Pasteur himself. Cenerally "science"
is never to be e×plained by itself. It is an ill-composed entity which
e×cludes most of the elements that allow it to e×ist. The social move-
ment into which Pasteur inserted himself is a large part of the efncacy
attributed to Pasteur's demonstrations.
£ven the Pasteurians who were most determined to spread the myth
of a Pasteur struggling alone against the shades of obscurantism are
forced to recognize the unanimity with which his e×periments were
received. Bouley, for e×ample, writes· "Before such results [at Pouilly-
Ie-Fort], there was no longer any room for doubt, even on the part
of his most thoroughgoing opponents, who were compelled to fall
silent, and the convictions acquired were immediately e×pressed by
a sort of avidity for this new vaccine under the protection of which
the farms of anthra×-ridden regions were impatient to place their
flocks and herds. " Bouley adds. "|ustice is often slow in coming for
inventors, often its progress is so limping that their lives are not long
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 29
enough for them to see it done. M. Pasteur, Ì can now name him, has
been privileged enough to see it accelerated in his case" ¸ I&&I, p.
549) . It should be said that in Pasteur's case justice got carried away,
since it soon attributed to him what he did not i
fact do and paid
him the homage of the entire hygienist movement. A columnist, prob-
ably Richet, writes. "It is often difncult for contemporaries to judge
the enormous progress that is being made and to have an opinion of
a recenf discovery that will be connrmed by posterity. However, we
have, in scarcely a few months, witnessed the blossoming of a great
discovery, judged as such and on the importance of which there has
been unanimity" ¸Anon.. I &&I, p. I29) .
On a Few Dissenters: Koch and Peter
Mothing demonstrates better the unanimity of the crowds that fol-
lowed Pasteur and seized on his results than the few people who had
what might be called the courage to oppose them. Although opponents
were numerous enough in the Academie de Medecine, where Pasteur
sought them out with a violent rhetoric, there were only two in the
Revue: Peter, the old-fashioned French physician, and Koch, the
modern-minded Cerman physician.'º Although these men were en-
tirely opposed in their beliefs, they had the same criticism of Pasteur.
he generalized too hastily on the basis of a few inadequately clarined
Peter has been described as an obscurantist buffoon, but he was
the only one to put up any kind of a nght against Pasteur's medical
coup d'etat. Peter fought against the "microbic furia, " against what
seemed to him to be a "torrent," even "an intellectual cholera against
which sanitary measures must also be taken." And "that is why," he
adds, "I am for resistance. " It was he who was resisting an invasion,
not the Pasteurians, who were resisting the forces of darkness.
Contrary to what is usually said, Peter's argument is well founded.
In I&&2 he questions whether simply looking at the sheep vaccinated
at Pouilly-le-Fort can show that there is a general method, applicable
to all infectious diseases. He calls this a "hasty generalization." Mor
does he want to put an end to discussion by heroicizing Pasteur. At
the Academie he cries out. "As for the term 'wonderful' that you use
to describe the e×periment oí Pouilly-le-Fort, it is no longer an apol-
ogia, but an auto-apotheosis and Ì do not wish to have any part in
that" ¸ I&&3. pp. 55&, 56O).
30 War and Peace of Microbes
How can one deny that he is right hcre? Peter does not want to
turn a scientinc e×periment into a miraculous, divine event and to be
e×tended without proof to every disease. Was not scientinc method
on his side? And yet he was wrong, if not for the reason we might
think. He imagined that he was nghting against a scientist, whereas
he was nghting against someone who was already the spokesman, the
ngurehead, and the ampliner of an immense social movement that
passionately wanted Pasteur to be right and therefore made sure that
all his laboratory work proceeded with a "haste" and a "widespread
application" that were truly "prodigious." Peter claimed that the king
was naked, but others rushed up to clothe him. Peter fought bravely,
but he miscalculated the balance of forces and was therefore to sink
Koch did not share the same weaknesses, and he attacked Pasteur
far from Paris and on the terrain of the new scientinc medicine. But
his criticisms intersect with tbose of the "backward-looking" Peter.
Pasteur, Koch claims, generalized much too quickly. "M. Pasteur had
already given himselt up to the most ambitious hopes. With utter
conndence he announced a forthcoming triumph in the snuggle against
infectious diseases" ¸ I&&3, p. 65) .
Koch nnds all this premature. The technical objections he raises
give us some idea of how an×ious everyone was to agree with Pasteur.
We cannot, Koch claims, generalize from one animal to another, nor
from animal to man, nor from one disease to another, nor from the
vaccination of a few individuals to that of all individuals. Koch chal-
lenges Pasteur to show the complete stock on which is credited the
general method that is about to eliminate all diseases and revolutionize
medicine. Mo one can deny that in I&&I this stock was e×tremely
limited. The immense trust in Pasteur derived partly from the work
that he had done before I &7I, which did not concern infectious dis-
eases, and partly from the social movement that needed these dis-
coveries but went well beyond mem without waiting for them to be
made. In order to create networks of sanitation and to increase the
circulation of goods and people, general laws as well as safe roads
were needed. Koch's precautions weakened and interrupted the net-
works that the hygienists wanted to e×tend and strengthen. The hy-
gienists cared nothing for Koch's precautions. Their trust went entirely
to the man who was enuncating a general law and a principle ot
indennite e×tension of the networks that they were going to command.
The critiques by Peter and Koch force us to see the disproportion
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 3I
between the forces that supported the generalizations of the Pasteur-
ians and the scanty proof that they could provide at the time. If I
insist on this point, it is because the history of the sciences is seldom
just to the defeated or even, for that matter, to the victors. It accords
too much attention to the 1atter and not enough to the former. A
juster approach would be to treat both victors and defeated sym
metrically. When Richet writes in the Revue in I&&6 about the sug-
gestion made to the Academie to set up the Institut Pasteur÷"We
are assured that to propose a vaccinal establishment is already to
announce its creation" ¸ I& &6, p. 2&9)÷we must understand what he
says as anthropologists, for it is little more than a magical invocation.
He is willing to hand Pasteur the keys of the Institut simply by sug-
gesting its possibility. A century later Canguilhem, a French historian
of science, takes up the same incantation when he writes about the
Memoire of Pasteur on the theory of germs. "This theory, which al-
ready carried within itself, through the work of Koch and Pasteur,
the promise, which was to be fulnlled, of cure and survival for millions
of men and animals to come, also brought with it the death of all the
medical theories of the nineteenth century" ¸ I977, p. 63)²
We must analyze these beliefs in the power of what is in germ in
the same terms as when Koch, proposing a vaccine against tubercu-
losis at the International Congress of Medecine in I&96, is besieged
by patients from all over £urope possessed of the hope of being cured.
Richet's conndence is made up of the same "credibility" as the "cre-
dulity" of the patients.²' The fact that Pasteur had indeed funded his
Institut, whereas Koch had to withdraw his vaccine in confusion,
should not mislead us. In both cases Koch and Pasteur were sustained
by a wave of trust, which they used as much as the patients used
There Was a Traitor among Us
So the hygienists translated this great conflict between wealth and
health, without which their views would have interested nobody. But
because they acted in every direction, their views remained in dispute
and were little obeyed. Their various projects of sanitation were con-
stantly interrupted by what seemed to them to be the ill will of other
agents. They attributed all these diversions and decelerations to three
kinds of ill will÷nrst, to inertia on the part of the public authorities,
who did not do what they ought to do; second, to what we would
32 War and Peace of Microbes
now call the "sociological resistance" of the masses, ignorant of their
own interests; and last, to those diseases that appear and disappear,
whose unworthy behavior is called "morbid spontaneity." !n fact,
these three kinds of resistance were connected. The hygienists' ina-
bility to prevent the outbreak of disease justined in advance the inertia
of others. !n order to mobilize the public authorities and, indirectly,
the inert masses, they needed to be able to drive a sanitized path
through the cities that no agent could interrupt or divert. But this
was never the case.
A salesman sends a perfectly clear beer to a customer÷it arrives
corrupted. A doctor assists. a woman to give birth to a nne eight-
pound baby÷it dies shortly afterward. A mother gives perfectly pure
milk to an infant÷it dies of typhoid fever. An administrator regulates
the journey of Moroccan pilgrims to Mecca÷cholera returns with
the sanctined pilgrims and breaks out nrst at Tangiers, then at Mar-
seille. A homemaker takes on a Breton girl to help the cook÷after
a few months the cook dies of galloping consumption. We always
think we are doing the right thing, but our actions never turn out as
we e×pected and are slightly diverted from their aim. The tribunal
punishes a criminal with one year's imprisonment, but he pays for
his brief spell in the cell with his life. When a man follows a woman
to her hotel, he thinks he is settling the transaction with a coin and
ends his days in an asylum. This displacement of the best-intentioned
actions is truly discouraging. "For what ! do is not the good ! want
to do, no, the evil ! do not want to do÷this ! keep on doing" ¸Rom.
7. I9) .
But the situation is even more discouraging in that this distortion
does not always occur. A lot of beer arrives intact at the retailers,
many of those who frequent whores do not become syphilitics, many
midwives do not kill their clients' babies. !t is precisely this variation
that is disturbing. !t is the impossibility of predicting the intervention,
the parasitism, of other forces that makes the remedies and statistics
of the hygienists both so meticulous and so discouraging. Sometimes
cholera passes, sometimes not, sometimes typhus survives, sometimes
not. !ndeed, the doctrine of "morbid spontaneity" was the only really
credible one. Between the act and the intention is a tertium quid that
diverts and corrupts them, but it is not always present, and we cannot
capture it without taking everything into account at once. the heavens,
weather, morals, climate, appetites, moods, degrees of wealth, and
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 33
This corruption of the best intentions, a corruption that was all
the more disturbing in that it did not always occur, had one serious
inconvenience. It encouraged skepticism. Steps could be taken, of
course, but against what? Against everything at once, but with no
certainty of success. It was difncult to arouse enthusiasm and sustain
conndence in programs of reform and sanitation that all rested on
this inconstant constant. "Confronted by this periodically recurring
fatality, we remained powerless, unarmed, and, as the poet has it,
'weary of all, even of hope' " ¸Bouley: I&&I, p. 549).
The skepticism led straight to fatalism. Indeed, this corruption of
intentions had altogether too much the character of the "corruption
of this world" for it not to be seen
as inevitable. Life and good health
were miracles, and neither the hygienists nor the doctors had much
to do with them. They might wish to sanitize and reform, but it was
difncult to convince the public and the public authorities to invesr
enormous sums of money over decades if the simplest programs could
be betrayed by a sort of nfth column that undermined them from
wthin. We can see the parado× of the hygienist movement. on the
one hand, it was a social movement of gigantic proportions that
declared itself ready to take charge of everything, and on the othcr,
it was a succession of measures that were being quietly undermined
by unknown and erratic agents. As a result, the period showed keen
interest in identifying the corrupting forces, the double agents, the
miasmas and contagions, and accorded immediate trust to those who
might, in identifying them, be able to take measures against them. It
was at this precise point that the microbe and the revealer of microbes
Betwcen the beer and the brewer there was something that some-
times acted and sometimes did not. A tertium qud: "a yeast," said
the revealer of microbes. When you send out the beer, you send out
the barrel, the liquid, the delivery documents, and the yeast ¸Tyndall.
I&77, pp. 7&9~&OO) . When you bring a woman to birth, you think
you are in the presence of three agents÷the midwife, the baby, and
the' mother÷but a fourth takes advantage of the situation to pass
from your hands to the woman's wounds. Your interest is the life of
the woman, but the interest of that fourth agent is different. It uses
your interest to carry out its own. It proliferates; the woman dies;
you !ose a client ¸Duclau×. I &79, pp. 629÷635) . You organize a
demonstration of £skimos in the museum. They go out to meet the
public, but they also meet cholera and die. This is very annoying,
34 War and Peace of Microbes
because all you wanted to do was to show them and not to kill them
¸Anon.: I88I, pp. 372÷377) . Trav
ling with cow's milk is another
animal that is not domesticated, the tuberculose bacillus, and it slips
in with your wish to feed your child. Its aims are so different from
yours that your child dies.
In order to understand what constituted Pasteurism up to the end
of the century, we must understand what the Pasteurians, few in
number, offered the hygienists. Working in few laboratories, they
pronounced words that were immediately regarded as truthful and
were integrated into evidence that at last allowed the hygienist move-
ment to get on with its work. The hygienists were not "credulous. "
They expected something important from Pasteurism, something even
more important in that they had been so disappointed before and
were now sustained by a wider social movement. The small group of
Pasteurian researchers created neither medicine, nor the huge body
of theories on the causes of epidemics, nor the statistics, nor the
determination of the social body to sanitize and remodel itself, nor
even the rapid understanding by others of what they said. Yet they
added something of their own, something that seemed essential to
those who adopted it in order to pursue their own projects of sani-
If we could go back to this impossible state of hygiene before
Pasteur came to be credited with the whole movement, his contri�
bution might be dehned as that of a fulcrum. The Pasteurians provided
neither the lever nor the weight nor even the worker who did the
work, but they provided the hygienists with a fulcrum. To use another
metaphor, they were like the nrst observation balloons. They made
the enemy visible. Without replacing the armies, the battles, or even
the commanding ofhcers, they indicated or directed the blows. They
were both nothing and everything. Duclau×, speaking of the surgeons
who were the nrst to adopt Pasteurism, puts it well. "Surgeons have
long proved that they have the noble ambition of doing good, what-
ever trouble it takes them, and they only had to be shown where the
enemy was for them to learn to rush at those innnitely small enemies
that had so often robbed them of their success and glory and that it
was to be the honor of our century to have learned to know and to
confront" ¸ I&79, p. 635) . The Pasteurians were to displace ¸or trans-
late) the intentions of the hygienists by adopting their projects, while
adding to them an element that would strengthen both the hygienists
and the Pasteurians.
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 35
There Are More of Us Than We Thought
We do not know who are the agents who make up our world. We
must begin with this uncertainty if we are to understand how, little
by little, the agents denned one another, summoning other agents and
attributing to them intentions and strategies. This rule of method is
especially important when we are studying a period when the number
of agents was suddenly multiplied by millions. What struck all the
authors of the Revue may be summed up in the sentence. "There are
more of us than we thought." When we speak of men, societies,
culture, and objects, there are everywhere crowds of other agents that
act, pursue aims unknown to us, and use us to prosper. We may
inspect pure water, milk, hands, curtains, sputum, the air we breathe,
and see nothing suspect, but millions of other individuals are moving
around that we cannot see.
"Ignoring the danger of the microbe awaiting us, we have hitherto
arranged our way of life without taking any account of this unknown
enemy" ¦Leduc. I&92, p. 234) . £verything is in that sentence. There
are not only "social" relations, relations between man and man. So-
ciety is not made up just of men, for everywhere microbes intervene
and act. We are in the presence not just of an £skimo and an an-
thropologist, a father and his child, a midwife and her client, a pros-
titute and her client, a pilgrim and his Cod, not forgetting Mohammed
his prophet. In all these relations, these one-on-one confrontations,
these duels, these contracts, other agents are present, acting, e×chang-
ing their contracts, imposing their aims, and redenn
ng the social bond
in a different way. Cholera is no respecter of Mecca, but it enters the
intestine of the hadji, the gas bacillus has nothing against the woman
in childbirth, but it requires that she die. In the midst of so-called
"social" relations, they both form alliances that complicate those
relations in a terrible way.
I am not using the word "agent" in any metaphorical or ironical
sense but in the semiotic sense. Indeed, the social link is made up,
according to the Pasteurians, of those who bring men together and
those who bring the microbes together. We cannot form society with
the social alone. We have to add the action of microbes. We cannot
understand anything about Pasteurism if we do not realize that it has
reorganized society in a different way. It is not that there is a science
done in the laboratory, on the one hand, and a society made up of
groups, classes, interests, and laws, on the other. The issue is at once
36 War and Peace of Microbes
much more simple and much more difncult. To make up society with
only social connections, omitting the invisibles, is to end up with
general corruption, a perverse deviation of good human intentions.
In order to act effectively between men÷that is, to go to Mecca, to
survive in the Congo, to bring nne, healthy children to birth, to get
mamy regiments÷we have to "make room" for microbes. As Leduc
puts it. "Science began the enslavement of the forces of nature and
placed at the service of modern societies workers in iron and nre more
powerful than all the slaves of the ancient world. But no science
imposes as hygiene does interdependence on human societies; rodç
we know that it is more or less impossible to benent from the good
things that it offers if we do not e×tend them to our neighbors; in
other words, individual hygiene is closely dependent on public hy-
giene; a single unhealthy house in a town is a perpetual threat 1o all
its inhabitants, if we are to give those good things to one, hygiene
requires that they be e×tended to all" ¸ I&92, p. 233).
With what does Leduc make up his world? With "science," with
iron and nre machines, with enslaved forces, but also with contagious
diseases. The juridical "social" link is weak, but that which links all
men together by a disease is much stronger. So what can we say about
the juridical link redenned by the hygienist that must act everywhere
in order to make the whole social body interdependent?
The Pasteurians redenned their numbers, wi± little regard to whether
some belonged to nature and others "to culture," as the e×pression
used to be. What interests them is whether they can be enslaved and
what new forces can be created with these strange allies. Armaingaud,
for instance, forms an odd alliance with the microbes. "In our struggle
against phthisis . . . we have at our disposal an element of success that
is largely lacking in the struggle against scrofula and the local tuber-
culoses. it is the motive derived from personal interest, the contagion
that makes us all interdependent upon one another, the rich as well
as the poor, the strong as well as the weak" ¸ I&93, p. 37) .
Armaingaud, a rather paternalistic reformist, uses the microbe to
redenne that celebrated "self-interest" and to link everybody together
through fear of discase. This une×pected strengthening is not in itself
"reactionary," as suggested by some authors who are used to speaking
only of power and who see hygiene as a "means of social control."
The allies of the microbe are to be found on the left as well as on the
right. At the time of the
inauguration of a Pasteur Institute in Mew
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 37
York, Cibier writes. "Later we shall see that the study of contagious
organisms, which must be at the scientinc base of hygiene, can and
must bring considerable assistance to those who, nnding that all is
not for the best in the best of all possible worlds, are trying to improve
the wretched condition of the disinherited." He speaks of "assis-
tance. " He, like a vulgar Mar×ist, attaches bacteriology to the class
struggle. "The wretchedness of the poor distills a bitter and virulent
bile that reaches as far as the rich man's goblet and contaminates the
veins of his children" ¸ I&93, p. 722) . The poor may have no rights,
but the contagious poor can blow up the whole outnt. What is refused
to one cannot be refused to the other. The class struggle may be
stemmed at one point, only to reappear at another through contagion.
Rosenkranz shows in the case of similar reforms in the United States
the impossibility of telling whether they served the right or the leh
because the microbe rendered unpredictable interests that would be
too predictable without it²ª.
Mo one, toward the end of the century, could do without contagion
in connecting men, plants, and animals. In an article on the role of
microbes in society, Capitan sums up his thinking. "I have just out-
lined the way in which pathogenic microbes evolve in soci-
ety . . . Society can e×ist, live, and survive only thanks to the constant
intervention of microbes, the great deliverers of death, but also dis-
pensers of matter" ¸ I&96, p. 292) . 1gain, it is as an anthropologist
that we must follow these new translations of what matters in the
world. Capitan distinguishes in a different way between what is be-
nencent and what is harmful, what is useful and what is useless, what
acts and what does not. He does not base society on biology, like a
vulgar contemporary; he redennes society itself, a society in which
the new agents intervene now and at all points. "We need the assis-
tance of the innnitely small," writes Loye ¸ I&&5, p. 2I4). Microbes
connect us through diseases, but they also connect us, through our
intestinal flora, to the very things we eat. "We can hardly doubt the
importance of the role played in the economy of the individual by
those table companions that help it to break down organic sub�
stances" ¸Sternberg. I &&9, p. 32&) .
"Interdependence," "assistance," "power," "help," "table com-
panions" -I have not imposed these terms; they all emerge from the
trials of strength. It is the actors that thus redenne their worlds and
decide which must now be taken into account²¹.
38 War and Peace of Microbes
From the Science of Society to the Study of Associations
The actors whom we are studying already have many lessons to teach
us. In particular, they do not wait for the sociologist to denne for
them the society in which they live.²´ They reorganize society with
new actors who are not all social. Sociologists of the sciences often
claim to be providing a political or social e×planation of the content
of a science, such as physics, mathematics, or biology. But the soci-
ology of the sciences is too often powerless, because it thinks it knows
what society is made up of. Faithful to its tradition, it usually dennes
society as made up of groups, interests, intentions, and conüicts of
interest. So we can see why this sociology is so feeble when it ap-
proaches the e×act sciences. It thinks it can e×plain hard disciplines
in social terms, whereas those disciplines are almost always original
and more subtle even in their defnition of the social body than so-
ciology itself. Sociologists of sciencethink they are very clever because
they have e×plained hygiene in terms of the class struggle, the in-
frastructure, and power, whereas :he agents spike our guns for us.
They go off and look for new allies to advance the cause and to terrify
the rich ¸or poor), brandishing diseases. Which e×plains the other?
Which is the more inventive?²¯
The e×act sciences elude social analysis not because they are distant
or separated from society, but because they revolutionize the very
conception of society and of what it comprises. Pasteurism is an
admirable e×ample. The few sociological e×planations are feeble com-
pared with the strictly sociological master stroke of the Pasteurians
and their hygienist allies, who simply redenned the so
ial link by
including the action of the microbes in it.²³ We cannot reduce the
action of the microbe to a sociological e×planation, since the action
of the microbe redenned not only society but also nature and the
Microbes are everywhere third parties in all relations, say the Pas-
teurians. But how do we know this? Through the Pasteurians them-
selves, through the lectures, the demonstrations, the handbooks, the
advice, the articles that they produced from this time. Who, then, was
the thinl party in all these social relations at the time? The Pasteurian,
of course, the revealer of microbes. For whom must we "make room"?
For millions of omnipresent, terribly effective, often dangerous, and
quite invisible microbes. But since they are invisible, we also have to
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 39
make room for the revealer of microbes. In redenning the social link
as being made up everywhere of microbes, Pasteurians and hygienists
regained the power to be present everywhere. We cannot "e×plain"
their actions and decisions by "mere" political motives or interests
¸which in any case would be very difncult to do.) They do so much
more. In the great upheaval of late nineteenth-century £uroµe, they
redenne what society is made up of, who acts and how, and they
become the spokesmen for these new innumerable, invisible, and dan-
The lesson in sociology that Pasteurians and hygienists give to their
time ¸and to sociologists of science) is that if we wish to obtain
economic and social relations in the strict sense, we must nrst e×tirpate
the microbe. But in order to e×tirpate the microbe, we must place the
representatives of the hygienists or Pasteurians everywhere. If we wish
to realize the dream of the sociologists, the economists, the psychol-
ogists÷that is, to obtain relations that nothing will divert÷we must
divert the microbes so that they will no longer intervene in relations
everywhere. They and their ways must be interrupted. After the Pas-
teurians have invaded surgery, only then will the surgeon be alone
with his patient. After we have found a method of pasteurizing beer,
then the brewer will be able to have nothing but economic relations
with his customers. After we have sterilized milk by spreading
throughout all farms methods of pasteurization, then we will be able
to feed our infant in a pure loving relationship. Serres describes this
elimination of a parasite by another more powerful one.
º Only after
the insulation of the second parasite can we declare ourselves safe
from the brst. At the cost of setting up new professions, institutions,
laboratories, and skills at all points, we will obtain properly separated
channels of microbes, on the one hand, and of pilgrims, beer, milk,
wine, schoolchildren, and soldiers, on the other.
To e×plain bacteriology is not, then, to reduce Pasteur to the po-
sition of a social group. On the contrary, it is to follow the lesson
that bacteriology and hygiene gave to all the sociologies of the period.
"You thought you could do without the microbe. Yet the microbe is
an essential actor. But who knows it? We, only we in our laboratories.
So you must take us into account and go through our laboratories if
you are to solve the problems of society." In order to understand this
point of view, we must remember that the period was full of people
who rurned themselves into the spokesmen for dangerous, obscure
40 War and Peace of Microbes
forccs that must now be taken into account. The hygienists were not
alone in inventing new forces. There were those who manipulated the
fairy electricity, those who set up leagues for colonization, for the
development of gymnastic clubs, or for promotion of the telephone,
radio, or X-rays. The radical party, for instance, gained ground every-
where by forcing the traditional agents of me social game to take
account of the dangerous laboring classes, whose actions and inten-
tions were so little known. But it is with Freud that the resemblance
is greatest. Like Freud, Pasteur found treasure, not in the parapra×es
and triües of everyday lite, but in decay and refuse. Both announced
that they were speaking in the name of invisible, rejected, terribly
dangerous forces that must be listened to if civilization was not to
collapse. Like the psychoanalysts, the Pasteurians set themselves up
as e×clusive interpreters of populations to which no one else had
It does not matter that Pasteur developed an e×act science, that the
radical party occupied a growing place in parliament, and that Freud
developed a science that is still controversial. It does not matter that
some denne human actors and others denne nonhuman agents. Such
distinctions are less important than the attribution of meaning and
the construction of the spokesmen who e×press, for others' benent,
what is being said by the unconscious, the rabies virus, or the print
worker. Such distinctions among types of actors matter less than the
fact that they are all renegotiating what the world is made up of, who
is acting in it, who matters, and who wants what. They are all cre-
ating÷this is the important pointnew sources of power and new
sources of legitimacy, which are irreducible to those that hitherto
coded the so-called political space. They cannot be reduced to a "social
or political e×planation," since they are renewing the political game
from top to bottom with new forces. If socio-logy wishes to be the
science of "social facts," then it cannot understand this period. It
thereby limits itself to the purely social, whereas all me actors are
dirtying it with something else. More seriously, sociology rema
deaf to thc lessons of the actors themselves. If we wish to learn from
this lesson and still call ourselves sociologists, we must redenne this
science, not as the science of the social, but as the science of associ-
ations. We cannot say of these associations whether they are human
or natural, made up of microbes or surplus value, but only that they
are strOng or weak.30
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 41
How to Become Indisputable
We begin to understand the general process of translation found in
the Revue Scientifque.
"We want to sanitize," say the hygienists, e×pressing in their own
way the forces of the period and the conüicts between wealth and
"All your good intentions are diverted, confused, parasitized," say
"This parasite that diverts and confuses our wishes, we see it and
reveal it, we make it speak and tame it," say the Pasteurians.
"If we adopt what the Pasteurians say, seizing the parasite with its
hand in the bag, we can then go as far as we wish," say the hygienists.
"Mothing will be able to divert our projects and veaken our programs
In spreading the notion of the Pasteurians as revealers of microbes,
the hygienists, who claimed to be the legislators of health, spread
themselves. By generalizing both the Pasteurian and the hygienist
everywhere, ¡he desire ro get rich was no longer thwarted. The conüict
between health and wealth was resolved to the beneht of the latter.
As McMeill suggests when discussing the millenium-long struggle
between the microparasites and the macroparasites, a struggle that
seems to him to be the motive force of history, the scale is turned in
favor of the macroparasites.³' The rich and the empires will at last
be able to spread. Hitherto, especially in the tropics, they could never
go very far. Their most faithful factotems soon died. Mow, wherever
the Pasteurians and hygienists gained ground, the microparasites lost
ground. We can see why nobody, even today, can seriously question
the contribution of bacteriology. Indeed, all opinions speak with the
same voice, and everybody works together to attack the micropar-
asites. e×ploiters, e×ploited, benefactors of mankind, merchants, the
clergy, and above all the doctors, the hygienists, the army medical
corps, and at the end of the parasitical chain, the Pasteurians. The
only losers in all this are the microbes. Since no human being can
wish ro defend them, the general transformation of towns in the
nineteenth century through the elimination of microbes is indisput�
The assemblage of forces that I am trying to reconstruct might be
confused with the hnal !mpression given by this assemblage if it were
not for a certain distinction. Microbes might have been disc�vered,
42 War and Peace of Microbes
but with no responsibility for this discovery being attributed to Pas-
teur. After all, in politics, ingratitude is more common than gratitude.
Thus, two mechanisms must be distinguished. The nrst sets up the
forces one on top of the other and enables us to e×plain how a whole
period is interested ¸nnds itself interested) in what is happening in
Pasteur's laboratory; the second mechanism attributes responsibility
for the command to one member in the crowd. When Tolstoy e×plains
the Russian campaign, he describes the nrst mechanism, but he is well
aware that the second is constructed differently, since the maneuvc
are attributed to "Mapoleon's genius" and "Kutuzov's genius. " The
same goes for bacteriology. What ! call the primary mechanism shows
how bacteriology got into thç end of the parasitical chain and found
itself able to e×press a whole period. But the secondary mechanism
attributes the whole of the sanitational revolution of the period to
Pasteur's genius. The primary mechanism describes the alliances and
make-up oI the forces, whereas the second e×plains why the forces
are mi×ed together under a name that represents them. The nrst dennes
the "trials of strength"; the second enables us to e×plain what "po-
tency" is made up of.
This is not a minor point, for it helps us to e×plain two very different
things. nrst, how the hygienists or Pasteurians put themselves in a
position to translate the forces that needed them and, second, how
they initiated an investigation to denne who was responsible for the
movement as a whole. ! have said that the shift took place only
throug translation. But this translation is always a misunderstanding
in which both elements lay different bets. Once the shift has been
made, it is crucial to decide who was ultimately the cause of this
transaction. For instance, it is almost certain that the £nglish bacte-
riologists arranged their laboratories in the same way as the French
biologists. So the primary mechanism was the same. But it was only
in France that responsibility was attributed entirely to bacteriology,
which was reputed to be the work of a single man, Pasteur.
This distinction between the two mechanisms is an essential one,
because the strategies that it implemented were quite different and
could vary in the same article. For e×ample, Richet, speaking of the
antidiphtheria serum, ends. "!t may be astonishing that ! have not
seen nt to mention the great name of Pasteur. But what is the point?
Do we not know that every discovery in the domain of bacteriology
emanates directly from M. Pasteur, just as every discovery in chemistry
emanates from Lavoisier?" ¸ I&95, p. 69). Plotinus himself would not
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 43
have endowed his Cod with enough power to make the antidiphtheria
serum ¸to which Pasteur the man hardly contributed) emanate "di-
rectly" from him. But :he same Richet, in the same article, uses a
quite different model to establish the priorities of the discoveries about
diphtheria. "In the presence of this magnincent result, this victory
over death by science, it is of relatively secondary interest to know
to whom it is due, for we always e×aggerate what is attributable to
a particular scientist in any discovery. It is, much more than his pride
supposes, due to an anonymous, perpetual collaboration and to the
e×change of ideas in the air, each of which makes its useful, obscure
contribution" ¸p. 6&) .
What? So there are "anonymous" researchers? Other researchers
than Pasteur? "Collaborations," "ideas in the air"? The Plotinus-like
emanation has become the humdrum sociology of the sciences, a
crowd of anonymous, hard-working foot sloggers. One may have
guessed the cause of this shift in metaphysics. The nrst obscure, anony-
mous collaborator was none other than Richet himself. "On Decem-
ber 6, I&9O, we carried out the 6rst serotherapic injection on a man"
¸ J&95, p. 6&) . This double game of e×planation÷one creating po-
tency, the other setting out the trials of strength÷might seem no
more than an amusing oddity. But it helps us to e×plain how so patent
a manipulation of all the trials of strength of a society may end up
giving the impression that a society has been revolutionized by the
purely scientinc ideas of a few men, and it even helps us to explain
how, by reduction to the secondary mechanism, we end up with the
impression that there e×ists a science on the one hand and a society
on the other. ³²
Hygiene and the Obligatory Points of Passage
Let us take a look at the side of the hygienists and see why they seized
so readily on any argument about microbes to emerge from the mi-
crobiological laboratorie�s. I said that they were at war and were
nghting on all fronts. I compared them to a small army given the task
of defending an immense frontier and therefore obliged to disperse
itself along a thin cordon sanitaire. Tbey were everywhere, but were
everyvhere weak, and we know how many epidemics, how many
outbreaks of typhus, cholera, yellow fever, got through those ill-
defended frontiers. What does the dehnition of the microbe and the
description of its habits mean to them? Precisely what in the army
44 War and Peace of Microbes
are called obligatory points of passage. Depending on its equipment,
the enemy cannot get through everywhere, but only in a few places.
They have only to concentrate their forces at those points for their
weakness to turn into strength. The enemy may then be crushed.
Take an infantile disease like the ophthalmia of the newborn, a
cause, say the statistics, of 3O percent of those born blind. Fuchs, the
author of this article, says that he believed like others in morbid
spontaneity. Anything could cause this ophthalmia. overbright light,
cold, jaundice. Then he adds, without actually citing Pasteur. "As
soon as we learned that the cause of several infectious diseases lies
in microscopic mushrooms, we were all ready to believe that herc,
too, the blame lay with the microorganisms" ¸ I&&4, p. 494).
The mere dennition of an agent is enough "to lead us to believe"~
a crucial term÷in a new program of research. Thanks to the prowess
of this agent, Fuchs sets about linking two hitherto unconnected sta-
tistical aggregates, the presence of disease and gonorrhoea in the
mother. He then nnds the same gonococcus in the mother's wounds
and in the puss discharging from the infants's eyes. When could the
microorganism pass from the mother's vagina to the well-closed eye
of the newbon infant? Thcre was only one answer. through the lashes
to which it adhered. This was the obligatory point of passage. the
eyelashes. But where does Fuchs strike? !n the eyes themselves. With
what? With a powerful disinfectant, silver nitrate. Fuchs was pow-
erless to prevent all the causes of a disease. He found himself in a
strong position crushing the gonococcus with silver nitrate at the
single place where it was obliged to pass. The results of this new trial
of strength were spectacular, "indisputable." In a Cerman hospital,
says the author, the ngures dropped from I2.3 percent of diseased
children to O percent. Who indeed could still argue about that? By
deploying the same forces, Fuchs gets results that bear no comparison
with earlier ones. Understandably, this reinforcement is enough to
show why so many people were "led to believe" in the presence of
Furthermore, the microbe made it possible for a reordering of epi-
demiological problems, where it seemed that the number of causes
would always defy analysis. Take, for instance, an investigation into
a cholera case at Yport, a little harbor in Mormandy. The investigator,
a certain Cibert, is confronted by a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes.
a Mewfoundlander lands with his nsh at Sète in me south of £rance,
a sailor dies at Toulon; in the train a bag belonging to the dead man
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 45
travels unaccompanied; at Yport a woman washes the linen of her
sick brother; she lives in a steeply rising street; there is a public
fountain. From the only point of view known to statistics, this mis-
cellany of disparate facts can only produce the following. in I&&4
there was an outbreak of cholera at Toulon and another at Yport in
Seine Inferieure. "The doctrine of morbid spontaneity has been men-
tioned once again," the author admits.
To remedy the uncertainty, the investigator comes on the scene
with his Ariadne's thread. He imposes his preconceived certainties on
the investigation. The microbe is not an idea lloating in the head of
scientists; it is a means of locomotion for moving through the net-
works that they wish to set up and command. The microbe is a means
of action, designed for a certain use and a certain type of connection
and movement. There is a specinc microorganism; it does not jump
from one place to another; we must follow the thread. With these
certainties, a new route is both described and dug. Cibert recounts
how the sick sailor, a friend of the sailor who died at Toulon, has
his linen washed by his sister. "The day after his arrival, he had all
his clothes soaked, in two lots, in a tub, then had them hung up to
dry . . . The water from the tub was thrown out into the very steep
street and traveled over 5O meters" ¸ I&&4, p. 724). Sev�n died along
that steep street! "£ach new case could be connected with the earlier
cases and there was not a single one that was not e×plained by con-
tagion" ¸p. 725) .
From obligatory point of passage to obligatory points of passage,
the path emerges to e×plain the variation of elements that the doctrine
of morbid spontaneity alone seemed capable of accounting for. Con-
tagionism as a general doctrine was powerless, but the Ariadne's
thread, making it possible to connect a ship, a train, a particular
topography, a system of water supply, brought together both the
traditional investigation and the new agent. Before, everything had
to be taken into account, but in a disconnected fashion; now the
hygienist could also take everything into account, but in the order
laid down by the microbe's performances. It is easy to imagine the
e×traordinary enthusiasm of all the hygienists called upon to discover
the traces of an enemy that seemed so erratic as to summon up the
whole e×planation of morbid spontaneity. Without abandoning any-
thing of the past, they were becoming stronger. "If we could know
e microbe at the source of each disease, its favorite haunts, its habits,
its way of progressing, we might,
ith good medical supervision, catch
46 War and Peace of Microbes
it in time, stop it in its tracks, and prevent its continuing in its hom-
icidal mission" ¸Trelat. I&95, p. I69) .
I have chosen on purpose three authors who were not Pasteurians,
did not mention Pasteur, or worked on diseases that the Pasteurians
had not yet dealt with. Indeed, the formidable transformation of
hygiene was effected at nrst only with the following research program.
there are obligatory points of passage; the microbe is the ^riadne's
thread that links all the points together. Of course, we may admit
that Pasteur was responsible for the certainty that specinc microbes
e×isted, but he was not responsible for their medical use.
The clearest case was obviously that of surgery. In the Revue its
transformation is regarded as won from the outset. Indeed, from the
point of view of the secondary mechanism surgery is regarded as the
work of Lister and Cuerin. Pasteur is seen, at least at the beginning,
only as the occasion of a development for which the surgeons them-
selves were responsible. We understand why. Antisepsia and asepsia
may develop without the knowledge of any particular microbe, with-
out the culture, the attenuation in short, without anything to be found
in the medical program of the Pasteurians. In order to launch Lister,
all that was needed was for surgeons no longer to quesuon the e×-
istence of microbes and their ability to pass everywhere, but for them
to know more or less that microbes died in heat or in the air÷or
absence of air÷under the effects of a disinfectant. All Pasteur had to
do was to make this indisputable, and the surgeons themselves would
"apply" it, that :s, do the rest.
The enthusiasm of the surgeons shows clearly enough that we can-
not distinguish "belief" from "knowledge." The degrees that lead
from the most skeptical indifference to the most passionate fanaticism
are continuous and measure the angle of relations between the agents.
We believe that which we e×pect something from in return; in this
sensc belief is based, like knowledge, on the e×tension of safe networks
that allow things to go and come back. For instance, asepsia allowed
the surgeons to reach new places that they were unable to reach
hitherto e×cept on corpses. Thus their beliefs, their knowledge, and
their skills grew at the same pace and in the same proportion.
The act of operating no longer kills: we are more or less
masters of the cuts we make, we direct them almost at will
toward immediate healing . . . The serious interventions of for-
mer times, the amputations of limbs, the hollowing out of bones,
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 47
articular resections, removal of breasts, nrst entered everyday
practice. Then the horizon widened. abdominal surgery was cre-
ated out of nothing. We cut, we resected, we sewed up the
stomach, the intestines, the liver and its biliary vesicle, the spleen,
the kidney, the pancreas itself . . . Antisepsia made this miracle
possible. complications in wounds were now the e×ception, and
thanks to M. Pasteur's discoveries, M. Lister has deserved the
celebrated gold statue promised by Mclaton to whoever delivered
us from purulent infection. ¸Reclus. I&9O, p. IO4)
!t is not B question of ideas, theories, opinions. !t is a question of
ways and means. Surgeons could go into the stomach, they could
wield the lancet in the ovaries, and still hope that the living individual
on whom they were operating would not die at once. The certainty
that surgeons placed in the antiseptic method corresponded e×actly
to the territories that it was opening up to them. The translation
appears quite clearly. At the cost of a rapid and ine×pensive detour
via the gestures of disinfection, they reached more quickly and further
to what they had been wishing to reach since antiquity.
Ìhave already cited the unfortunate Kirmisson, lamenting the pow-
erlessness of surgeons to control at once all the factors of purulent
infection. "So we had accumulated all the precautions of general
hygiene, but we had not managed to uproot from the wards purulent
infection and all the calamities of surgery." Such was the nrst program,
the nrst hygiene. He adds. "We were obviously on the wrong track,
we were looking for the cause of the accidents in the environment,
in the hygienic conditions in which we found the patient, whereas we
had to nght them and above all prevent them by the use of antiseptic
substances in the wound itself" ¸ I&&&, p. 296). The reversal was made.
The wound was enough. 1t was there that surgeons had to take pre-
cautions. The environment was of course important, but they will
never be strong enough to control it entirely. The weak became strong
simply by changing the point of application of their efforts. Protect
the wounds and not the environment. that was enough to redirect
the forces of surgery as a whole, which became almost at once stronger
than the microbes that were perverting their good intentions.
This transformation may be e×pressed more precisely. The surgeons
passed from a total attack to a specinc attack, or in other words, from
a full totality to a hollowed out totality. Before there was endless
discussion in the Revue about "disencumbering" the hospitals. This
48 War and Peace of Microbes
solution was typical of the "old" hygiene with its precautionary ac-
cumulatory methods. There are too many men, too many diseases,
especially in the cities. They must be cleaned out. But Kirmisson writes
again, if all we have to do is to protect the wounds, "the question at
the present time is oddly simplihed . . . We are no longer demanding,
as in the past, that the old hospitals be pulled down and new ones
built at a cost of millions. These great hospitals, imperfect as they
are, from the point of view of general hygene, are adequate to our
needs providing we practice strict asepsia" ¸ I&&&, p. 297) .
Mot only surgery was simplihed and strengthened, but hygiene as
a whole, which could vindicate its advice by concentrating its forces
on the obligatory points of passage. It was not always convenient to
follow Bouchardat's prudent advice to physicians assisting at births
to wait several days before doing so again. It was simpler to wash
their hands in a carbolic lotion after each childbirth ¸Bouchardat.
I&73, pp. 552÷564) . It was e×pensive and ineffective to build ma-
ternity homes. Yet it was quite possible to place the women in close
pro×imity, providing they were surrounded by an antiseptic cordon
sanitaire ¸ I&75) . Quarantine is an inconvenient method. Why lock
people away when you let their infected linen escape? |ousset de
Bellesme asks indignantly ¸ I&76, p. 4O3) . They must simplify the
precautions to be taken. When ten years later it was
cholera had only a hve-day incubation period, the quarantine could
safely be reduced to si× days. There was controversy about the danger
of cemeteries. But since no passages were found to link the microbes
of the dead with the living, they could declare cemeteries healthy
¸Robinet: I&&I, pp. 779~7&2) . The same went for drains. Their smell
was pestilential, but if microbes did not pass with the smell, xhey
presented no danger.
Thus, all the great problems of hygiene÷overcrowding, quaran-
tine, smells, refuse, dirt÷were gradually retranslated or dissipated.
£ither the microbe gets through and all precautions are useless, or
hygienists can stop it getting through and all other precautions are ·
superfuous. The hygiene that took over the doctrine of microbes
became stronger and simpler, more structured. It could be both more
fle×ible÷quarantine could be rela×ed÷and more infle×ible÷total
disinfection to I2O degrees. In a sense hygiene lost ground, since it
was no longer directed at the totality, but in another sense it gained
ground at last by striking more surely at an enemy that had become
visible. This is why the contribution of the hygienists is difhcult to
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 49
isoÍatc trom that otthcir aÍÍics. Jhcy changcd whatthcywantcd to
Jhcy wcrc Íikc pcopÍc who had bcgun to sct up a road nctwork
and cndcd up buiÍding onÍy a tcw main roads. Jhc aim is stiÍÍ thc
samc, to gct cvcrywhcrc, but thc program otpubÍic works is guitc
The Hygienists Made Their Own Time
Jhis shitt in hygicnic prcccpts, which bccamc rarcrand morc hrmÍy
bascd� was aÍso to transtorm thc rcÍationship bctwccn hygicnc and
it sct out to cmbracc cvcrything. Lycurgus and Îippocratcs wcrc
invokcd bywritcrs obscsscd bythc tcar that, in ignoring onc dctaiÍ,
thcy might bc ignoring onc otthc causcs otthosc discascs that havc
so many causcs. As soon as thcy rcdcpÍoycdthcir torccs, cÍiminatcd
a Íot otknowÍcdgc, and structurcd thc advicc avaiÍabÍc around thc
obÍigatory points ot passagc, thcy couÍd ignorc a Íargc part ot thc
opinion otthc ancicnts and drop whoÍc arcas otwhat by this timc
had bccomc 'traditionaÍ" hygicnc. Attcr I&&O thc styÍc ot thc hy-
gicnists couÍd bc rccognizcd at a gÍancc. Òncc thcy had givcn thcir
advicc on cvcrything, now thcy dccídcd on a tcw things. Òncc thcy
hadaccumuÍatcdcvcrying, nowthcyordcrcd.Jimcno Íongcrmovcd
ing cvcrything, thcy rctrcnchcd, ¡cttisoncd, and as a rcsuÍt tcÍtthcy
wcrc making progrcss at Íast.
ÒItcn inhistorywhcn wc scc such dittcrcnccs otstyÍcor thought,
wc spcak otrcvoÍution ¦borrowing thc Íanguagc otthc poÍiticians),
or cvcn otcpistcmoÍogicaÍ brcak ¦thistimcborrowing thc Íanguagc
otthc butchcr`s shop) . ßut to cxpÍain cvcn a radicaÍ dittcrcncc by a
brcak 'intimc" isto cxpÍainnothingat aÍÍ. !tistosupposcthattimc
passcs and datcs cxist. Vc aÍways say, tor instancc, that timc is ir-
rcvcrsibÍc.Jhis is casiÍy said. Jhcycar I&75, wccÍaim,isattcrI&7I.
ßut i ti snot ncccssariÍy so. Jhc hygicnists aÍways compÍaincd that
!or thcm, ccrtainthings had not changcd sincc GaÍcn. !s timc irrc-
vcrsibÍc: VouÍd that it wcrc| Òn thc contrary, it is rcvcrsibÍc-so
rcvcrsibÍcthat itis possibÍc notto havcmadc anyprogrcsssinccthc
timc ot thc Komans. ^ow it things stagnatc, wc can hardÍy makc a
50 War and Peace of Microbes
distinction bctwccn I&7I and I&75, cxccpt on thc caÍcndar, which
docs not amount to vcry much.
!n othcr words, it was onÍy rcccntÍy thathygcnists had comcto
piccc ot advicc might havc bccn archaic, but it might bc usctuÍ to-
mat wouÍd bc supcrscdcd tomorrow. ^othingvas rcaÍÍy without a
dividc up thc timc ot hygicnc into rccognizabÍc pcriods. Òr rathcr
somchygicnists tricdto do so, butingrcatcpochs: 'Jhcocratic with
Noscs, patrioticwith Lycurgus, naturaÍistic withÎippocratcs, mcta-
at thc instigation ot thc KoyaÍ 5ocicty oI Ncdicinc, that ¸hygicnc]
bccamc cxpcrimcntaÍ, that is to say, truÍy scicntihc, rcsting on thc
bioÍogicaÍ and socioÍogicaÍ scicnccs" ¦Cor!icu: I&&J, p. 533) .
Jhcsc spaccs ottimc arc notcnoughtodistinguish bctwccn I&7I
and I&75 ! !n any casc, thc agcnts wcrc not in agrccmcnt asto thc
datcatwhich things bcgan to changc. IorNartinin I&&O, thc 'ncw
cra` bcgan in I&76 at thc ßrusscÍs Congrcss ¸ I&&O, p. IO7I) . !or
ßouÍcy in I&&I, thctoundation othygicncdatcs,wc archardÍy sur-
priscd to Ícarn, trom ÏouiÍÍy-Ìc-!ort. Îowarc wc to distinguish bc-
twccn thc ycars andhow arcwc toproducc a bcttcr pcriodization:
Jhis is thcsamcprobÍcm that cach actorhastocontront.
!tthc ycars arc to bc distinguishcd trom onc anothcr and ittimc
mustbcccrtainthingsthatwccannoÍongcrgo back on. Jimc-that
is, thc distinction bctwccn momcnts-is thc distant consequence ot
actions to makcaparticuÍarpositiondurabÍc.!tisnot, norcani1bc,
a causc. ßut tor thc agcnts to makc thcir positions durabÍc and ir-
couÍd ncvcr bc ovcrthrown." ßut thcy wcrc thc oncs who did not
wish to bc ovcrthrown, and that is why thcy madc thc principÍcs so
indcstructibÍc: thc hrst turn ot thc ratchct. ^oson, an unhcaÍthy,
stinkingtown, was 'supcrscdcd" and 'anachronistic." !n thc agc oI
progrcss this was anothcr tum ot mc ratchct. Jhc statisticaÍ rcsuÍts
otthosccttortswcrc unccrtain, butvith ncw mcthods thc rcsuÍts at
Íast had thc ungucstioncdccrtaintyotthc scicnccsottimc: bctorc, so
many dcaths, attcr, nonc-hcrc miÍÍions ot microbcs, thcrc nonc. A
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 51
third turn ot thcratchct. Jhc achicvcmcnts wcrc piÍing up. !t was
aÍrcady bccoming morc dithcuÍt to rcvcrsc thcm. !t thc hygicnists
managcd to rccruit cnough aÍÍics, thcn thcy wouÍd bc abÍc to makc
timc irrcvcrsibÍc. Jhcn thcy wouÍd bc abÍc to bcgin to datc ycars.
as Ïóguy says in C/to.³¹ Hcncc thcir cnthusiasm. Vhat thcy rctcrto
as thc rcccnt cvcnt is a changc in thc rc¿tmc ot timc: bctorc, this
rcgimc did not movc torward, now it docs. ßctorc, thc hygicnists
couÍd not, without bcing immcdiatcÍy contradictcd, tcÍÍ othcrs what
thc timc was and ycÍÍ, 'You arc archaic and supcrscdcd."^ow thcy
couÍd do so and no onc wouÍd contradict thcm. ^owthcy couÍd do
so because thcy wcrc no Íongcr controvcrsiaÍ. Jhis cÍosurc ot thc
argumcntwas duc, inturn, to thc aÍÍics thatthcygavc thcmscÍvcs in
ordcrto makc thcir positions imprcgnabÍc.
Jo spcak ot 'rcvoÍution" is dithcuÍt cnough in poÍitics, but it is
usuaÍÍy disappointingisthatitsctsouttromtimcinordcrto cxpÍain
thc agcnts and thcir movcmcnts, whcrcas thc tcmporaÍ tramcwork
mcrcÍy rcgistcrs attcr thc cvcnt thc victory ot ccrtain agcnts. !t wc
rcaÍÍywantcdto cxpÍain history, wcwouÍd havc to acccptthcÍcsson
that thcactors thcmscÍvcs givc us.|ust as thcymadc thcirsocictics,
thcyaÍso madcthcirownhistory. Jhc actors pcriodizcwithaÍÍ thcir
might. Jhcy givc thcmscÍvcs pcriods, aboÍish thcm, and aÍtcr thcm,
rcdistributingrcsponsibiÍitics, namingthc 'rcactionarics,"thc 'mod-
crns," thc 'avant-gardc," thc 'torcrunncrs," just /tkc a historian-
no bcttcr, no worsc. Vc ought to ask history to dispÍay thc samc
humiÍitythat wc havc askcd socioÍogy to do. |ust as wc askcd soci-
oÍogyto abandonits 'sociaÍgroups" andits 'intcrcsts"andto aÍÍow
thc actors to dchnc thcmscÍvcs, wc ought to askhistoryto abandon
its 'pcriods," its 'high points," its 'dcvcÍopmcnt," and its 'grcat
historians as socioÍogists. 5omcthingwouÍd surcÍy bcgaincdbythis:
instcadotcxpÍainingthcmovcmcnts otthcactors bytimcand datcs,
wc wouÍd cxpÍain at Íast thc construction ottimc itscÍton thc basis
otthcagcnts` own transÍations.³`
JhcymadcthcmscÍvcsmodcrnby bypassing aÍÍthcothcrs. !twasto
52 War and Peace 'f Microbes
by thosc who had takcn rcsponsibiÍity tor dirccting thc sanitization
andrcgcncration otLuropc. Jhcir most advanccd aims had bccomc
aÍmostindisputabÍc. At thc cost otacccptingmicrobioÍogy, thc sup-
port ot its Íaboratorics, and cvcn thc continuaÍ praisc otthc 'grcat
Ïastcur," thcy advanccd thcir causc morc guickÍy and strcngthcncd
thcir positions cvcrywhcrc by wcakcning thcir advcrsarics, whcthcr
microparasitcs or pubÍic authoritics. Jhc timc that thcy made was
nowworking tor thcm.
We Must Know How to Bring a Science to an End
cÍsc that was Ícss disputabÍc. Jhc hygicnists pavcd thc way tor thc
Ïastcurians by trusting thcm and gcncraÍizing what thcy said. Jhcy
pÍctc, dchnitivc scicncc and that all that remained was to appÍy it.
Jhchrstmarkcrotthis cÍosingopcrationisto bctoundinthcRevue
in I88J: '!rom thc daywhcnthcthcory otparasitcsthrcwÍight on
thc hithcrto stiÍÍmystcriousctioÍogyotintcctiousdiscascs,wchadto
hndoutwhcthcr itwouÍdhcÍp in discovcringthctrucnaturc otthc
maÍariaÍ poison" ¦Kichard: I88J, p. I IJ) .
!rom now on, thc ccrtainty otthc thcory otparasitcs was takcn
as a prcmisc cithcr otrcscarch programs that had only to be impÍc-
mcntcdor otpracticaÍ mcasurcs mathad onÍy to bc appÍicd orgcn-
Vc cannot cxpÍain this cÍosing opcration by saying that microbi-
oÍogy was at thc timc an cxact scicncc. !ndccd, thc cxactncss ot a
scicnccdocs notcomc trom within. !t, too, comcs trom thc strcngth
ot thc agcnts with whosc tatc it has managcd to bccomc Íinkcd.
Astonishing as thc rcsuÍts aÍrcadyaccumuÍatcdatthcpcriodby Ïas-
tcurmay appcar, thcy couÍd not in thcmscÍvcs cxpÍain thc trust ac-
cordcd thcm by thc othcr actors, tor thc cxccÍÍcnt rcason that thc
trust, tor controvcrsics wcrc ¡ust as passionatcÍy tought out in that
ccntury as in any othcr. Jhc rcasons thcrc wcrc no controvcrsics
shouÍd bc, inordcrto rcspcctthc principÍc otsymmctry,thc samc as
thcy couÍd havc donc so. Jhc abscncc or prcscncc ot a controvcrsy
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 53
is a mcasurc onÍy ot thc angÍcs ot movcmcnt otthc actors. Jhis is
opcncdup controvcrsics onthcvcry samcob¡ccts, which sccmcd to
thc hygicnists to bc irrcvcrsibÍy cÍoscd.
torthc trust pÍaccd init, wc cannotcxpÍain this cÍosingopcration in
cvcry casc bythc 'rcaÍ" cthcacyotmicrobioÍogyorothygicnc, sincc
thisopcrationprecedes andmakes possible thcgcncraÍizationotthcsc
two scicnccs. Jhc bcst proot otthis shittis providcd by an cditoriaÍ
ot I&&9. Jhc Íatcst hgurcs .or dcaths trom intcctious discascs, says
¸ I&&9, p. 636) . Jhcschgurcsought aÍso, itscicnccandsocicticswcrc
Ïoppcrian, to put into gucstion aÍÍ thc cttorts otthc hygicnists and,
stiÍÍ morc, thosc ot thcir Ïastcunan aÍÍics� ßut this is not at aÍÍ thc
casc. Kichct gocs on: 'Vc shouÍd not concÍudc trom thcsc hgurcs
that thc cttorts otthc hygicnists havc provcd uscÍcss orthc achicvc-
mcnts ot scicncc truitÍcss." AnthropoÍogists havc shown that, in a
witchcratttriaÍ,thcrc arc aÍwaysagcntsthatcannotbcmadcrcspon-
in tactwhataÍÍowswitchcratt torcvcaÍsowcÍÍthctabricotsocicty.
!t is thc samc hcrc. Doubt movcs not in thc dircction otscicncc but
toward thc incrtia ot thc pubÍic authoritics. As Kichct continucs,
'Dcspitc thc progrcss ot scicncc, dcspitc thc advancc ot physicians
and cnginccrs, thc hygicnic cconomy ota grcat and ancicnt city Íikc
Ïaris rcmains morc or Ícss out ot controÍ." Vhcn it is a mattcr ot
tormingaÍÍianccsthat arc durabÍccnoughto ovcrthrowthcwhoÍcot
urban Luropc, no countcrcxampÍcwiÍÍprcvaiÍ against thcsc ccrtain-
tics, no accusation wiÍÍ bc pointcd in thc dircction ot scicncc or thc
Ïastcurians. 5uch statcmcnts arcmcasurcsnototthc partiaÍity orthc
crcduÍity but otthc capitaÍ ottrustthat had bccn invcstcdinrcscarch
conccrning thc microbcs.
Îcrcwc can scc that 'trust" is ncvcr a primary tcrm. !t dcpcnds
onthc scopc otthc opcrations intowhich thchygicniststhrcwthcm-
scÍvcs. !ndccd, itisinthcvcrynaturcotthctranstormations thatthcy
advocatcd to havc no rcsuÍt untiÍ cvcrything is hnishcd. A singÍc mi-
crobc may cndangcr cvcrything. Jhc hygicnists arc powcrÍcss to ¡u-
guÍatc thcintcctious discascs it thcy do notinvcst continuousÍy tor
scvcraÍ gcncrations. Jo crcatc irrcvcrsibiÍity and to rid thcmscÍvcs
torcvcrotthcmicrobc,thcymustnot abandon thc buiÍding otdrains
54 War and Peace of Microbes
must thcy intcrrupt thc disintcction otmidwivcs` hands or thc stcr-
wantcdto sctup had to bcas continuousas an oiÍ pipcÍinc. ßccausc
inthcsÍightcstdisputc conccrning Ïastcur. Jhis wasthc onÍywayot
crcating thc tuturc conditions tor thc rcaÍization ot an cthcacious
Ïastcurism. Jhis iswhy itispointÍcss to cÍaim that Îastcur`s discov-
cÍsc to put them into practice.
!n ordcr to makc thcir positionpcrmancnt, thc hygicnists had to
sct up thc grcatcst possibÍc 'potcntiaÍ dittcrcncc" bctwccn thc 'in-
disputabÍc congucsts" ot scicncc and thc 'dithcrings ot thc pubÍic
authoritics."Jhiswas, torthchygicnists, thconÍywayotsetting up
at avcrycarÍy stagc: '!rom thc thcorcticaÍ point otvicw, in short,
hygicnc has donc its work, but it has not gonc bcyond, as tar as
practicc is conccrncd, wc arc bchind most ot thc civiÍizcd nations,
cvcn though wc wcrc ahcad ot thcm on thc purcÍy scicntihc tcr-
rain. . . Lvcrythingrcmainsto bc donc astaraspracticaÍimpÍcmcn-
tationis conccrncd, but thc soÍutions arc thcrc and wc onÍyhavc to
impÍcmcnt thcm with thc utmost spccd" ¦Kochard: I88/, p. J8º) .
Vc can sccthc cxtcnt to which thc notionsot'bchind" and 'im-
pÍcmcntation," so ottcn uscdinthc socioÍogy otinnovation, arcthc
rcsuÍt ot a stratcgy to gct othcr authoritics to movc at Iast. ^o rc-
scarchcr in his right scnscs couÍd cÍaim that thcrc was no morc to
Ícarnin bactcrioÍogy by I 88/or cvcn that it couÍd bc impÍcmcntcd
Jhis sctup has nothing whatsocvcr to do with an 'intcÍÍcctuaÍ"
conhdcnccin Ïastcur`s rcsuÍtsoraÍovcoIscicncc.Vhatthcmicrobc
andthctranstormationot microbioÍogy into a complete scicncc did
was to makc Íong-tcrm pÍans ot sanitization indisputable. Jhcy ot-
pÍaccs" as to its harmÍcssncss: Îowcvcr, as soon as thc scicntihc
argumcntwas cÍoscd, thcy couÍd guarantccthcmunicipaÍiticsa good
rcturnonthcirinvcstmcnts. Kochardwritcs: 'Civichygicnchasbccn
thcsub¡cctotinnumcrabÍc studics and wc knowcvcrythingwc nccd
Strng Micrbes and Weak Hygienists 55
ÍocaÍitics without tcar ot making mistakcs or committing ourscÍvcs
to unproductivc cxpcnditurc" ¦ I88/, p. J8º) . JhchnaÍ guarantcc, at
thc cndotthc chain,wasto bctoundinthcmicrographyand micro-
Vc now scc why thc hygicnists pÍaccd so much trust in Ïastcur,
rc¡cctcd aÍÍ controvcrsy about him, and gcncraÍizcd his rcsuÍts. Jhis
rcsuÍt was not ncccssary. ßut scicncc had to bc raiscdto thc highcst
thatwas aÍso not absoÍutcÍy ncccssary. Jhcy did not conccrn thcm·
scÍvcs with microbcs out ot poÍitcncss any morc than out ot a Íovc
ot scicncc. Ît thc angÍc ot thcir movcmcnts had intcrruptcd that ot
thc Ïastcurians, wc might stiÍÍ bc waiting tor a Ïastcurian 'rcvoÍu-
tion" ¦as has occurrcdin thc casc otthc doctors) .
and makc thc incrtia ot thc pubÍic authoritics stiÍÍ morc scandaÍous,
by attributing hygicnc itscÍt to 'Ïastcur." Ïastcur was not thc onc
whoarrogantÍycÍaimcdthcncwhygicncashisownwork. !twas thc
hygicnistswhonccdcdto turn'Ïastcur"into thcadvocatcotaÍÍthcir
dccisions. Vc may disputc thc work ot a hygicnist, wc couÍd not
disputc 'Ïastcur." !t thc sccondary mcchanism accordcd so much
pÍaccto 'Ïastcur, "itwasagainbccauscthchygicnistswantcditthat
way. 5incc thcrc wcrc morc otthcm andthcy wcrc morc inIÍucntiaÍ,
mc procccdings institutcd byÏastcur to apportion rcsponsibiÌitywouÍd
havc bccn Íost it, by chancc, thcy had not agrccd.³¨
From the New Indisputable Agent to the New Authorized
and Authoritarian Agent
instcadothcsitating, nowspokcwitha ncw authority incvcryscnsc
otthc word. Jhis is apparcntin Kichct`s cditoriaÍ ot I88J:
Lnginccrs know thc art otcnginccring. Dothcy know what
typhoid tcvcr is: Do thcy know thc mcaning otthc word con-
tagion: Do thcy rcad thc mortaÍity statistics tor Ïaris: Admin-
butdothcyknowwhatismcantbyintcction, disintcction, con-
56 War and Peace of Microbes
dcat no Íongcr to thc appcaÍs otthc hygicnists, which bccomc
morcurgcntand bcttcrtoundcdcach day, thatthcyhnaÍÍygivc
thcsanitaryinstitutions otthc city otÏaris thc unitormity and
cmcacythatthcyshouÍdhavcÍongsinccposscsscd. ¦Kichct: I88J,
p. ZZ5) .
Jhis i sthc purcst cxprcssion otthc gcncraÍizcd transÍation rctcrrcd
torgottcn thc microbcs in thcir worÍd and in thcir pÍans, wc, thc
hygicnists, makc room tor thcm and, thanks to this ncw authority,
thc pubÍic authoritics must incÍudc us in thcir ranks. Lvcrybody is
dispÍaccd, movcd, transÍatcd. 5omc Íosc thcirpÍaccs ¦thc cnginccrs,
thc microbcs, thc pubÍic authoritics) : othcrs gain thcir pÍaccs ¦thc
Ïastcurians, thc hygicnists) . Jhc pubÍic authoritics arc intcrcstcd in
poÍitics,thccnginccrsinincrt bodics, butancwanddisturbingagcnt
hasarrivcdonthc sccnc: ÍivingbutinvisibÍcbodicspuÍÍuÍatingcvcry-
whcrc. Jhc Ïastcurians say thcy can scc thcm in thcir Íaboratorics,
thc hygicnists bcÍicvc thcm. As ! havc aÍrcady suggcstcd, poÍitics is
madcnotwithpoÍiticsbutwithsomething else. Îcrcwasancwsourcc
otpowcrwith which to congucrthc statc. !ndccd, thc cditoriaÍ gocs
on unambiguousÍy, ¸thc pubÍic authoritics] 'must cnsurc at Íast, as
tar as possibÍc, thc prompt cvacuation ot rctusc, thc purity ot thc
watcr suppÍy, thc cÍcanÍincss otdwcÍÍings, and thc dctcnsc otpubÍic
or pubÍic wcaÍth. !n a country with such a Íow birthratc as !rancc,
wc must bc morc carctuÍ with human Íivcs, as N. Kochard has ¡ust
said, �hat is at stakc is thcmaintcnancc otthc!rcnch nationaÍity"
¦Kichct: I88J,p. ZZ5) . Jhc whoÍc chainhas now bccn dcscribcd: at
onc cnd, !rancc, at thc othcr, thosc whoin thcir Íaboratorics makc
thc microbcs visibÍc, in thc middÍc, thc hygicnists who transÍatc thc
on, thc pubÍic authoritics who ÍcgisÍatc on thc basis ot advicc givcn
Jhc compÍctc hybridization ot hygicnists and Ïastcurians muÍti-
pÍicd thcpowcr ot both. Jhc Ícastprcccpt inhygicnc couÍd now bc
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 57
researchers in laboratories were at grips with the fate of France itself.
The archetype of this alliance was not Pasteur but Chamberland, an
early collaborator of Pasteur's, a deputy, a hygienist, and the proposer
of the I&&& bill on public !ygiene. In presenting his celebrated report,
Hericourt shows clearly how the secondary mechanism worked. In-
deed, for him Chamberland's report reveals public hygiene "as it has
been transformed by the researchers of the Pasteur school." He e×alts
the progress that may be e×pected. "From the application of all these
researchers into microbiology, the initiative for which has come from
the laboratory in the Rue d'Ulm" [Pasteur's laboratory at this time] "
¸ I&&&, p. 245) . But this reversal of priorities is not what concerns me
here. Mo, the primary mechanism is more interesting, for it created,
using scientinc and j uridical laws, a new and hitherto unknown public
authority. The hygienists wanted to complete the new science very
quickly in order to make it indisputable, they now wanted to complete
the law in order to make certain obligations irreversible and bring
about a change in human behavior. The ratchets of scientinc law,
juridical law, and public morality must all be turned, one after the
other, in order to force the pace of social regeneration and to make
room both for the urban masses and for microbes.
Chamberland's report is interesting because it dennes e×plicitly this
new authority that was taking nobody's place but was displacing
everybody by inventing a new source of "political power." As Ro-
Already the growing influence of hygiene is offending many
a civil servant. "Those doctors are getting everywhere," said a
min¡ster a few years ago, somewhat irritated by all the fuss being
made about typhoid fever in learned societies and the echoes of
their discussions in the nonmedical press. We must e×pect to be
regarded as even more troublesome when the day comes that
we shall order instead of advising, when the competent, auton-
omous authority that we demand will force the municipalities
to take the necessary steps and force them to nnd room in their
ofncial e×penditure for the sums that such steps require. ¸ I&&7,
A reader of Serres before the event, our Rochard makes full use oí
his parasitology. There is a lot of talk about typhoid fever, this talk
irritates the minister, but the voice does not seem at nrst very sure of
itself, it then becomes a voice that advises, lastly it becomes a voice
58 War and Peace of Microbes
that orders. It is easy enough to see what this new assurance is based
upon. they know what they are talking about, they are talking in the
name of bacteriological science, which in turn is ralking in the name
of that invisible population of microbes which it alone can control.
Militant hygiene has begun. It must, our militant conunues, "get
people's m¡nds used to submitting to the tutelary yoke ot mis new
Chamberland's report embodies this new voice that has turned up
as a third party in all political, economic, and social relations. He
þroposes in effect "to establish in each department, in the prefect's
of6ces, an authorized agent of public health, who will make sure that
the laws are implemented, investigate the salubrity of various com-
munes, and indicate those where work is indispensable" ¸Hericourt.
!&&&, p. 24&) .
A new agent to get rid of the new agents i s revealed by microbi-
ology. It's a nne set-up! For each parasite, a parasite and a half.
Wherever the microbe may 6nd itself, an authorized agent must be
therc to chase it away. If militant hygiene achieved this aim, it had
created a new source of power, a power unthinkable a few decades
earlier and one that was rapidly becoming irreversible.
You Will Be I uslcurs
of Microbes !
How Are We To Measure the Pasteurians' Displacement?
I have spoken at such length of the hygienist movement in order to
reestablish the forces that alone were capable of e×plaining the im-
mense movement of £uropean society. I had to reestablish, all too
briefly, the innumerable crowds and the direction of their general
movement in order to deprive the great war leaders, Mapoleon or
"Pasteur," of the power of performing all these wonders. It would
thus be unfair to criticize me for not yet having spoken of the Pas-
teurians, since I have already described in detail the powers that were
attributed to them and on which they capitalized. I have talked as
much about them as if, in speaking of an enterprise, I had begun by
listing all those who had invested in it, the markets to which it had
decided to appeal, and even the several natures of the products that
it had decided to manufacture. Pasteurism is made up of all this credit.
This statement can surprise only those who forget the allies that 3
science must nnd in order to become e×act. These allies, of which the
science is sometimes ashamed, are almost always outside the magic
6U War and Peace of Microbes
circle by which it later, after its victory, rede6nes itself. "Pasteur" or
¨bacteriology" are names given to crowds. Trying to write the history
of these phantasmagorias or trying to make one the produd of the
other would be like writing the history of France on the basis of the
popular press nlled with crime, se×, or aristocratic weddings.
We must now try to understand what Pasteur, the man~Pasteur
without inverted commas÷and his team did in this movement. In
War and Peace, neither Kutuzov nor Mapoleon remains inactive, even
aher Tolstoy has reduced both to the dimensions of men among the
crowds that use them and which they in turn use. It is not a question
oí denying that Pasteur and his team did something.' On me contrary,
the Pasteurian hagiography is what makes the real work of Pasteur
and his followers incomprehensible, since it conceals their own work
in a larger whole that includes what others did for them and in their
place. Once the process of attributing everything to "Pasteur" has
been dismantled, once all the forces offered him have been broken
down into their component parts, new questions arise: Did mey do
anything that was decisive? Did they win the day according to the
primary or the secondary mechanism? What precisely did they do on
their own? We remember, for e×ample, what Kutuzov, according to
Tolstoy, did at Borodino. He had the courage to order nothing himself,
to send out again as orders emanating from himself what me com-
manders had suggested that he do. By a patient study of both La
Revue Scientifque and the Annales de I'Institut Pasteur it is possible
to obtain a more� precise idea of the work of the Pasteurians.
In order to understand their work, I could have used the word
But it is not the right word, not because it is pejorative
or too political but because it is still too rauonal to account for the
operations in question. As Tolstoy has shown us, me strategists cannot
themselves be analyzed in terms of strategy. I cannot merefore analyze
scientinc credibility by resorting to some other belief. a belief in mil-
itary leaders. It is enough to speak of "displacement." The Pasteurians
place themselves in relation to those forces of hygene that I have
described, but do so in a very special way. mey go out to meet them,
then move in the same direction, then, pretending to direct them,
deflect them very slightly by adding an element that is crucial for
them, namely the laboratory.
What the Pasteurians did poses no problem to hagogaphical his-
tory, since it imputes to the ideas of a few men me power of moving
everywhere. For a reader of Tolstoy, on the conuary, no dimsion of
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 61
a Pasteurian idea, no understanding of a Pasteurian doctrine, no ad-
vice, no vaccine, could leave the laboratory without others seizing
upon it, desiring it, having an interest in it. So we must understand
how a few men in their laboratories were accepted and believed. The
nrst rule of method common to history and the sociology of science
is to convince ourselves that this was not necessary. It might have
been said÷it ought to have been said÷that this handful of scientists
was precisely no more than a handful. It might÷and ought÷to have
been said that they were "only theoreticians shut away Jn their lab-
oratories, without contact with the outside world. " This was not said.
Why? If we reject the hagiographical answer, we have to say that they
placed themselves in such a way that the research of their laboratories
would be taken up, as they knew, by people who had been interested
The control group was provided, even at the time, by the displace-
ment of Claude Bernard. £×perimental medicine was already an ap-
plication of the scientinc laboratory to the hospital, but the saccess
of the Pasteurians, it will be readily admitted, bore no relation to that
of the physiologists, who wanted a strict separation between a phys-
iology, proud of its status as an e×act science, and a medicine that
was e×pected to change slowly.³ There was nothing in common be-
tween them and the Pasteurians' takeover bid of medicine, by which
the Pasteurians claimed to be able to "buy," so to speak, the whole
of therapeutics cheaply and to start !rom scratch again. The laboratory
of Claude Bernard at the Collcge de France was in serene and polite
ju×taposition with the art of medicine, that of the Rue d'Ulm claimed
to dictate its solutions directly to pathology. In order to attempt such
an operation without being immediately resisted÷and they were not
much resisted÷the Pasteurians had to know where to place them-
selves and to be sure of their allies.
The questions are now becoming clear. How can a laboratory be
made relevant when hygiene and infectious diseases are at stake? How
can the labor power of a few men make all the difference? The general
principle is simple, being the principle of any victory. you must nght
the enemy on the terrain that you master.
The only terrain in which a laboratory scientist is master is that of
e×periments, of laboratory logbooks, test tubes, and dogs. This is the
only place where he can convince the adversary, using evidence that
the adversary will not be able to dispute and which will become, as
we say rather thoughtlessly, "indisputable." But the whole problem
62 War and Peace of Microbes
is to carry out a translation, in the terrain of me laboratop, of the
eurmous problems that are in no way to be found there a priori.
Ve must be careful not to fall into retrospectivc confusion. !n I&7I
and even in I&&O there was no connection between an infectious
disease and a laboratory. To suggest one would have been as odd as
to speak in the seventeenth century of a "physics of the heavens" ,or
to speak nowadays of an anthropology of the sciences) . At the time,
a disease was something idiosyncratic, which could be understood
only on its own ground and in terms of circumstances. This could
not be put inside the walls of a laboratory.¹ The hagographers at-
tribute to the Pasteurians powers that they could not have possessed
but omit to credit them with the only things that they did with their
little human force. What they did is much more interesung than what
they are credited for. Their "contribution," il we insist on this term,
is to be found in a certain style of movement that was to allow them
to connect "diseases" with the "laboratory." They were to succeed
by moving diseases on to the terrain of the laboratory where they,
me Pasteurians, had the upper hand. They therefore forced all those
groups that were interested in infectious diseases but e×pected nothing
of the laboratory to be interested in their laboratories.¹ In order to
succeed in this operation, they had to retranslate what others wanted.
Variation in Virulence
I earlier showed in various ways what the hygienists e×peded of the
new science. I spoke of a fulcrum and showed that me expectations
of a science capable of guaranteeing the hygienists' long nemorks of
sanitization over several generntions was so great that, if mis science
had not been offered to them, they would have invented it. Indeed, I
showcd that they did partly invent it, since they e×tended and closed
it off belore it was even operating or cven yielding results. Now let
us see from the side of those who responded to this request how they
transformed the morbid spontaneity of the hygenists into their own
terms. Let us take, for instance, the contagons or miasmas of the
hygienists. Where can one see them at workì More or less everywhere.
in the statistics, in the hospitals, in the nosogaphical tables, on maps
showing the centers of the epidemic. But 3 Pasteurian would extract
this contagious ferment and move it into an cnvironment that was
new and favorable for it, where nothing else would obscure the view
of it. This environment was an ideal one for me microbe, since for
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 63
the nrst time since the existence of microbes in the world they were
allowed to develop alone.6 It was also an "ideal" condition for the
observer, since in developing so blithely, the microbe, freed from the
competition of other living beings, made itself visible by increasing
and multiplying. The Pasteurian laboratory was constructed, well
before the period under study, in order to make these invisible agents
But a laboratory microbe is not yet a "contagious ferment." It does
not have any properties that can retranslate the attributes that were
considered as part of the notion of "disease." There may be labora-
tories of micrography, like those of Miquel, which have no more than
a circumstantial relation with hygiene or medicine. A lot of people
might be interested in micrographical analyses without yet being able
to force the hygienists to go through the laboratory of the Rue d'Ulm.
But the post-I &7I Pasteur went further. He inoculated animals in
his laboratory with the microbe that had been made visible by means
of his cultures. He made them ill. He in effect simulated the epidemic.
With laboratory-made statistics he counted the sick and the dead and
those that underwent spontaneous cure. He performed on dogs, chick-
ens, sheep, what the hygienists did with the help of nationally made
statistics on real populations. But because he was operating in a lab-
oratory, the Pasteurian mastered a greater number of elements. the
purity of the contagious ferment, the moment of inoculation, and the
separation of control groups. What he had created was an "experi-
mental illness," a hybrid that had two parents and was in its very
nature made up of the knowledge of the hygienists and the knowledge
of the Pasteurians. The double movement of hygienists and laboratory
snatched the disease from its own terrain and transplanted it into
another. It is easy to understand the growing excitement of all those
inte:ested in diseases and the increasing respect with which they treated
But the laboratory itself went further. It could have developed an
experimental pathology that outlasted the attention and interest of
those it had tried to captivate. Instead, it moved one more step in the
same direction as the interests of the hygienists. By varying the con-
ditions in which the microbes were grown and the conditions of
existence of the sick animals, the Pasteurians could now �eproduce
variation in virulence in the laboratory. That, for the hygienists, was
the nnal takeoff point.
In line with the expectations and demands of the period, the prize
6+ War and Peace of Microbes
would go to whoever explained not contagion but variation in con-
tagiousness in terms of environmental circumstances. As long as Pas-
teur could be seen as a contagionist, his laboratory did not have
suf6cient weight either for the hygienists or for the physicians, since
their problem was to reconcile contagions and morbid spontaneity.
As soon as Pasteur, using anthrax, reproduced in the laboratop the
inûuence of the environment on the virulence of a microbe, all the
power of the hygienist movement shifted and became belief in the
laboratory of the Rue d'Ulm. Pasteur was at last doing what was of
direct interest to hygienists. He 6nally synthesized two hitherto an-
tinomic points of view or, in what amounts to the same thing, linked
mo social groups so that each might strengthen the other. As he
himself said. ¨Work in my laboratory has established that viruses are
not morbid entities, that they may affect many different physiological
forms and, above all, properties, depending on the environment in
which those viruses live and multiply. As a result, even though the
virulence belongs to microscopic living species, it is essentially mod-
i6able" ¸ I&&3, p. 673) .
It is scarcely possible to overestimate the importance, at least in
the Revue Scientifque, of two particular experiments. The reduction
in virulence of anthrax cultures by a mere current of oxygen and the
triggering of the same disease among chickens, which are not usually
sub}ect to anthrax but which contract it when they are placed in
cooler temperatures. What struck all the commentators was not the
revolutionary character of these experiments but, on the contrary, the
fact that all previous hygienists had at last been }usti6ed. Duclaux
I know nothing more striking than that double experiment,
which is interesting not only because it holds out the greatest
hopes from the therapeutic point of view, but because it brings
us the enormous bene6t of throwing new light on obscure ques-
tions that medicine has hidden behind such terms as receptive-
ness, organic predisposition, physiological aptitude. In place of
these terms and in order to explain tLe resistance of birds to
anthrax, we can state a fact. their temperature is too high and
the degree of heat most suited to the globules of their blood is
not suited to the bacillus. ¸ I&79, p. 63I)
The hygiene of the past was both }usti6ed and secured on new
bases. These experiments were the perfect exchanger bemeen the
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 65
interests of the hygienists and those of the Pasteurians. What took
place in the laboratory was what took place in real life. this was the
6rst translation. Variation in virulence was contagion plus the envi-
ronment. this was the second translation. The consequences were
enormous, e×plaining the whole setup described so far. by pushing
Pasteur to his logical conclusions, hygiene both advanced and streng-
The Contagion Environment or the Traducing Translation
The human or nonhuman agents are interested in some other alliance
only if they see that their interests, or what they are led to believe are
their interests, are served by it. The alliance of two agents who un-
derstand one another very well is to be e×plained in the same terms
as their misunderstandings or disputes. The passion of the hygienists
for Pasteur's laboratory is to be e×plained in the same way as the
moderate interest of the doctors in that same laboratory. What the
alliances or disputes actually measure is the angle of their trajectories.
The hygienists accelerate by moving in Pasteur's direction, just as
Pasteur's influence grows by responding on his own terrain to others'
requests. But this does not mean that the groups understood one
another well. Translation is by dehnition always a misunderstanding,
since common interests are in the long term necessarily divergent.
Mothing better illustrates this misunderstanding between the agents,
even when they get on perfectly well together, than the retranslation
by the hygienists of Pasteur's "variation in virulence" ,itself a dis-
placement of "morbid spontaneity") . This retranslation bears me name
of "contagion environment."
For a French epistemologist used to looking for epistemological
breaks, the notion of a contagion environment is an appalling mis-
understanding of Pasteur's clear, precise notions. Bouchardat, the
"Mestor of French hygiene," as Landouzy calls him, understood per-
fectly what Pasteur was saying about his e×periments on anthrax. He �
understood so completely that he considered Pasteur to be at last
taking Bouchardat's advice seriously. "Morbid ferments, the seeds,
if you 1ike, of those diseases, are there permanently and they always
hnd in the Parisian environment terrains that offer favorable condi-
tions" , I&&3, pp. I7O÷I7&) .¯
An epistemologist may deride the confusion of the agricultural
metaphor. He may say quite rightly that the relation between the seed
66 War and Peace of Microbes
and the immune system is quite distinct from Bouchardat's vague
notion. He may nnd it ridiculous to compare Pasteurian medicine
with Bouchardat's gibberish, advising in turn vaccination, "the read-
ing of Molicre to hypochondriacs," gymnastics, continence. But the
historian who is shocked by this mi×ture will have missed the main
point. two distinct generations believed that they understood one
another and, acting on this misunderstanding, combined their forces
and increased their efncacy.
We must understand this point, which e×plains both the success
of the Pasteurians and the continuous choice of their object of re-
search. We cannot at the same time admire the fact that Pasteur was
so quickly and so early understood and wish that he had been properly
understood. By giving impetus to the hygicnists' program, Pasteur
benented from the misunderstanding that enabled both groups to
declare themselves in agreement. From I88I, in an article specincally
dwelling "on the principal modes of attenuating microbes or the mor-
bid ferments of contagious diseases" ¦ I88I, p. 458),Bouchardat adopts
a protective tone toward Pasteur. Bouchardat can be seen as one of
those confused precursors whom the history of science loves to scatter
along the way leading to its heroes, but for him the case was almost
the reverse. He was the representative of a research program that was
determining the way of the Pasteurian hero, who was doing in the
laboratory what Bouchardat had wanted to do for a generation. The
movement of the Pasteurian research program could be seen as a
takeover that, as always, diverted the problem toward the place where
the Pasteurians knew they were strongest. the laboratory. Mothing
could be less revolutionary than this strategy. All the protagonists
began to move at precisely the moment when they knew that the old
hygiene was vindicated. Again on the decisive e×periment involving
anthra×, the anonymous author of the Revue d'Hygiene writes. "Did
not M. Pasteur himself discover the theory of the age-old practice of
ventilation by the sanitization of the premises and objects infected?
How can he attenuate viruses if he does not subject them methodically,
in their culture media, to the action oI pure air?" ¦ I88J,p. 248). It
is Landouzy who invents the perfect hybrid, which he calls "contagion
environment." As he says to his students at the beginning of a lecture.
"Denning hygiene, the study of men and animals in their relations to
their environments with a view to preserving and improving the vi-
tality of the individual and the species, I have chosen as the subject
of my lecture the study of the contagion environment . . . This is the
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 67
environment in which the germs of contagion develop either overtly
or covertly, noisily or silently" , I&&5, p. IOI) .
The vagueness of this formulation allowed an equivalence of in-
terests to which no sensible man would have given his assent. the
macrocosm of the town, sanitized by the hygienists, and the micro-
cosm of the culture of the bacilli, sanitized by the Pasteurians. This
truly scandalous short circuit fascinated the Revue for a decade or
so, from the anthrax period to the rabies period. Public opinion was
passionately interested in the esoteric researches of the laboratory in
the Rue d'Ulm. All the great macroscopic problems of hygiene, it was
believed, had been found to be solvable by the Pasteurians on the
small scale of the laboratory. the same went for the main disinfectants,
the safety of the Paris drains, the harmlessness of the sewage farm at
Cennevilliers, problems of quarantine. In each case, thanks to this
identi6cation of the macro- and microcosm, Pasteur`s laboratory was
expected to provide the 6nal opinion that would settle the matter.
How Pasteur Himself Moved
Once again, in speaking of the Pasteurians, I have ended up speaking
of the hygienists, which is natural enough, since the 6rst had done
everything they could to bene6t from the strength and knowledge of
the second. But how could one man or a few men apply themselves
to a whole social movement, then move that alliancc in a different
direction so that they became, in the eyes of everyone, the cause of
a veritable revolution in society? This question, which is usually posed
only in politics, must also be posed ¨in science' as soon as we realize
the forces that make up a science. The answer to this question is to
be found partly in the period of the journals under study but also
partly in Pasteur`s career before I &7I. What was peculiar to Pasteur
was a certain type of movement through the society of his time, a
certain type of displacement that enabled him to translate and divert
into his movement circles of people and interest that were several
times larger. The hagiographers always see in Pasteur's career a ne-
cessity, which they therefore omit to admire, whereas they express
wonder at the astonishing things that he did not in fact do. A man
cannot do a great deal on his own. What he can do, however, is to
move. Like the clinamen of the Ancients, this movement uses up little
energy but may, if well placed, transform various energies into a
vortex that sweeps up everything. This image suits Pasteur perfectly.
68 War and Peace of Microbes
Pasteur's career has been studied many times. The best analysts,
especially Ceison, present us with the same enigmas.³ Certain 1eatures
of this career have always struck historians as contradictory. Pasteur
displays a tenacious obstinacy yet at the same time is constantly chang-
ing his ob} ect of study, each time he appears as less revolutionary
than was said and at the same time delivers a profound shock to the
sciences he enters. Dubos, Dagognet, and Duclaux maintain at once
that Pasteur pursued a single sub}ect with a single method and was
constantly changing the two.
If we agree to simplify somewhat, I may throw some light on all
these difnculties by considering Pasteur's sideways movement, only
the nnal sequences of which are found in the period under srudy.
Pasteur began as a crystallographer who interested a dozen or so oÌ
his r�spectable peers and ended up as the deined "Pasteur," the man
of a century, the man who gave his name to streets all over France.
In fact, what is constant in Pasteur is his movement, regardless of the
problems dealt with. Whenever we expect him to pursue the devel-
opment of a science in which he will have some success, Pasteur
chooses not to pursue this fundamental research but to step sideways
in order to confront some difncult problem that interests more peoplc
than the one he had }ust abandoned. The new problem always appears
to be more "applied" than the nrst one but~and this is the second
law ol Pasteurian movement~he transforms the "applied" problem
into a fundamental prob
em, which he resolves with the means ac-
quired in the discipline that he has }ust abandoned. By this peculiar
displacement he constitutes each time a new discipline in which he
has "some success." He abandons the new discipline in turn in the
same sideways movement, and so on. Dubos criticizes Pasteur pre-
cisely for interrupting the direction of the fundamental research that
he could have carried out. Crystallography, biochemistry, immunol-
o¿, for instance, are }ust a few of the disciplines he began and did
not continue himself, turning his attention to problems that each time
were of concern to a greater number of people.º
Pasteur abandoned crystallography but found himself, in the prob-
lem of ferments, at the heart of a famous quarrel among the chemists
and also at the heart of the beer-, vinegar-, and wine-producing in-
dustries, whose economic weight was out of all proportion to that of
a few colleagues in crystallography. Yet he did not abandon the lab-
oratory methods acquired in crystallography.
º Above all, he trans-
formed into a laboratory problem a crucial economic question and
You Wi Be Pasteurs of Microbes 69
captured an entire industry that was directly concerned by his e×-
periments. Yet he did not continue his work in micrography, leaving
it to others. He moved right into the middle of a quarrel about spon-
taneous generation. There again he brought onto the laboratory ter-
rain problems that had not previously been there and capitalized on
the attention of an educated public that was already much larger than
the industrialist public. But he was not interested in developing a
fundamental biochemistry. He was put in charge of a new economic
problem, that of the silk-worm industry, and there again he trans-
ferred all the means of analysis developed in earlier e×periments to a
new object, disease, which he had not yet confronted. He moved again,
and so on, according to a distinctive pattern ,see 6g. I,p. 267).¸ Crosses
on the horizontal lines show the disciplines that he took over ¸and
was to populate retrospectively with clumsy "precursors") , continu-
ous lines represent the disciplines retranslated by Pasteur, and dotted
lines, the disciplines that he left to others to continue. Vertical lines
symbolize the sideways steps that took him to a new subject. Con-
centric circles represent the ever-larger groups that each time he took
with him, comprising at 6rst only a few colleagues and becoming in
the end what it is no e×aggeration to call "the entire world."
As shown in this simpli6ed schema, we can rightly say that Pasteur's
career was rectilinear, providing we consider the oblique line that
always leads in the same direction. We can also rightly say that he
was faithful to a single problem, that of distinguishing the agents
involved, for the bent that led him to a new discipline was always
the same. Finally, we can rightly say that he was unjust to his "pre-
cursors," he rushed into previous bodies of knowledge with labora-
tory practices that were different enough to render irrelevant
colleagues who were already engaged in those disciplines. Such a
schema also reveals that mi×ture of audacity and traditionalism found
in this strange revolutionary. As Dagognet says, Pasteur innovated by
linking together. This ability is not enough for1he hagiographer thirst-
ing for genius, but for the historian or sociologist it is essential.
In the period under study this movement of Pasteur became so
accelerated and so determined that it eventually took on the regularity
of a strategy' Letus look at the speed with which he moved. Scarcely
had he made a connection between a contagion and a disease than
he stopped in his tracIs, leaving others÷Koch, for instance÷with
the job of classifying and describing microbes and their relationship
with particular diseases. He set out immediately to 6nd a way of
70 War and Peace of Microbes
making an experimental disease in the laboratory. But he did not
develop an experimental pathology, as perhaps the more prudent
Claude Bernard would have done. He immediately looked for a way
of attenuating the microbe. Yet microbic physiology as a whole was
not what interested him, but the possibility of producing an animal
vaccine. As soon as he had this vaccine, he did not connne his attention
to experiments which, though interesting, would remain in the lab-
oratory. He immediately set out to extend the methods of his labo-
ratory to the whole of stock-rearing. He could have stayed in veterinary
medicine, but this would have gone against the transversal strategy
that seemed to become ever more imperious as he reached the end of
his course ¸or what seems to us a century later as the end of his
course) . to work on the whole of society.
In order to move from the animal to man, from veterinary medicine
to human medicine, he chose a disease whose agent, a virus, was to
remain invisible until the I93Os and could be cultivated by none of
the methods that he himself had developed. Furthermore, after tests
on dogs, he passed very quickly to experiments on man. Moreover,
he expermented on nrst one child then two children, he generalized
the method, and his next step was toward the vaccinal institute nec-
essary to carry out the research that this general method required and
to practice mass inoculation.
As Dagognet rightly insists, none of these stages was a necessary
one. To nnd self-evident the conversion of two cases of cured rabies
into millions of gold francs, which were then turned into a laboratory
for fundamental research, is not to do justice to the work of Pasteur,
the man. All these things were scattered at the time. To link them
together would require work and a movement. They were not logically
connected. In other words, they did not lay down a particular path.
Pasteur could have stopped at any moment and continued himself the
work in the fundamental discipline that he was to leave to others. It
was even in that direction that all the professional training in the
sciences of the time must have urged him. He could have "llinched"
at the point where he arrived at human medicine÷indeed he did
hesitate. He could have÷ought to have÷not chosen rabies as his
nrst disease, he could have÷ought to have÷considered the case of
|oseph Meister as inadequate to demand the setting up of a research
institute. This was certainly what people as different as Peter and
loch criticized him for. Yes, he ought to have done these things, but
that type of movement, that audacity, was precisely what denned him,
Pasteur÷what, indeed, was his particular contribution.
You WilBe Pasteurs of Microbes 71
It would be pointless to say that there was, on the one hand, Pasteur
the man of science, locked away in his laboratory, and on the other,
Pasteur the politician, concerned with getung what he had done known.
Mo, there was only one man, Pasteur, whose strategy was itself a
work of genius. I am using the word "genius" without contradicting
myself, for I am attributing to him nothing that a single man on his
own could not do. Let us not forget Tolstoy's lesson. Without any
doubt, Mapoleon and Kutuzov were at the "head" of their troops.
Once the comple× of forces that set them in motion is broken down,
we have to recognize what those great men did and why Bonaparte
and not Stendhal, or Kutuzov and not Miloradovich, entered Moscow.
Pasteur placed his weak forces in all the places where immense social
movements showed passionate interest in a problem. £ach time he
followed the demand that those forces were making, but imposed on
them a way of formulating that demand to which only he possessed
the answer, since it required a man of the laboratory to understand
its terms. He began as a crystallographer in Paris and Strasbourg, he
ended with "divine honors." Such a metamorphosis does not come
about solely by one's own efforts. If he had stayed in Strasbourg,
working at crystallography, even his hagiographers have to agree that
others would have been accorded the divine honors÷even if, as Dubos
claims, his researches into the origin of life had been much more
important for "pure science. " In other words, Pasteur sought that
glory, and sought it well.
Mow that the notion of genius comprises nothing that is not peculiar
to Pasteur and is not e×plicable by displacement and translation, we
can understand a little better its most interesting aspect. Pasteur worked
just as hard at the primary mechanism, getting allies while he moved,
as on what I call the secondary mechanism, getting himself attributed
with the origin of the movement. In practice, he always went toward
applied subjects that held the interest of a crowd of new people who
were not the usual clients of the laboratory, but as he recruited his
allies in this way, through the needs, desires, and problems that he
came in contact with, he maintained a discourse by which all the
strength of what he did came from fundamental research and the
work of his laboratory. On the one hand, he threw his net as far as
he could, on the other, he denied that he had allies and pretended
¸with the active support of the hygienists and many other groups that
needed to take shelter under such a cause in order to advance their
own cause more quickly) that everything he did proceeded from "Sci-
ence." This double strategy bears the stamp of genius, for it amounts
72 War and Peace of Microbes
to translating the wishes of practically all the social groups of the
period, then getting those wishes to emanate from a body of pure
research that did not even know it was applicable to or comprehen-
sible by the very groups from which it came. The "application" be-
came a miracle in the religious sense of the term. It was because of
this double strategy that the example I have set out to analyze seemed
so indisputable. With this double endeavor~recruitment of allies,
negation of their efhcacy÷we end up indeed with the impression that
a revolution was emerging from Pasteur's laboratory and spreading
into society, which it then tuned upside down.'² The very formulation
of what Pasteur did was imposed on his contemporaries ¸in £rance
at least) by Pasteur himself. I have one more reason for admiring this
strategy, which is that a hundred years later it is still at work in more
than one philosopher of science. To remain indisputable for so long
is surely a lasting victory. Scientinc leaders, it must be admitted, are
more skillIul than military ones. Whereas nobody regards Danton or
Lenin as revolutionaries any more, everybody, even in the suburbs,
thinks that Archimedes, Calileo, or £instein carried out "radical rev-
The Laboratory as an Indisputable Fulcrum
Having reached this point, we still have explained nothing. Pasteur
moved in the way I have described. But nothing proves that in trans-
lating into laboratory terms what hitherto bore other names, a person
gains enough strength to reinforce both his own position and those
of the people who depend on him. In other words, we can wish to
do whatever Pasteur wished and still fail miserably. The organization
called the Work of Tuberculosis in the same period provides a control
group that appeared from time to time in the Revue. '¹ This association
was attacking an innnitely more important disease than rabies but
complained, through its
ounder Verneuil, to be eating up its capital
while the Institut Pasteur was being built. 'Jó4,000 francs are ob-
viously inadequate and the legitimate agitation about rabies has no
doubt done something to make people forget this" ¸Anon. 1887, p.
444) . Like Pasteur, Verneuil was trying to assemble scattered allies
who had nothing to make them agree. Meither rhe success of the one
nor the failure of the other was due to the spinelessness of their allies.
Verneuil even had in his pocket the so-called Koch bacillus. In spite
of this asset, he failed to gather together many interests to struggle
You Wil Be Pasteurs of Microbes 73
against this scourge, which everybody admitted was of the greatest
importance. Verneuil's failure reminds us that Pasteur must have done
something himself to bring his heterogeneous allies together under
his banner. We now come to the heart of the problem, or rather to
what has become, by virtue of Pasteur's strategy, the heart of the
problem. the microbiology laboratory nrst of the £cole Mormale and
then of the Institut Pasteur.
Methodologically it was crucial for us not to set out from this
place. To begin with, the labo�atory that was itself the result of a
succession of positionings, combinations, and moves would have been
sure to give a miraculous vision of its results.'¹ We must arrive at the
laboratory as the many different actors who found themselves "trans-
lated" there arrived. We are now reaching the zone forbidden to
sociological e×planation, the area that we would like be mysterious,
where political and social conditions, which we cannot do other than
accept, are transmuted into "truths," "doctrines," and "concepts"
that elude all conditions of production and set about, by some miracle
that always moves naive souls, to "influence" society.
In fact, I have already indicated the solution, about which there is
nothing mysterious. To win, we have only to bring the enemy where
we are sure we will be the stronger. A researcher like Pasteur was
strongest in the laboratory. Once interests had been aroused in such
a way that the macroscopic problems of the hygienists and doctors
could be treated at the microscopic level of the laboratory, the pro-
cedure was simple enough. A force, even a very small one, applied to
the strategic places could bring victory. £verything depended, then,
on recognizing those places where this e×tra force could produce
ma×imum effect. In the laboratory the work of a normal man is scaled
up. Pasteur always recognizes this technical fact, especially when ask-
ing the government for funds.
As soon as the physicist and chemist leave their laboratories,
as soon as the naturalist abandons his travels and collection,
they become incapable of the slightest discovery. The boldest
conceptions, the most legitimate speculations, take on body and
soul only when they are consecrated by observation and e×pe-
rience. Laboratory and discovery are correlative terms. £liminate
the laboratories and the physical sciences will become the image
of sterility and ueath . . . Outside their laboratories, the physicists
and chemists are unarmed soldiers in the battleneld ¸ I&7I, p. J)
74 War and Peace of Microbes
When it comes to subsidies, Pasteur, as we see very clearly, was as
much a materialist as any sociologist of the sciences. The laboratory
was the soldier's weapon in the battle. We now know what battle
Pasteur was nghting, what strategy he chose to e×ploit his nrepower
to me full. Let us now look at the weapon itself.
Why did Pasteur gain strength in the laboratory? He did so because
tbere, as in every laboratory, phenomena are nnally made smaller
than the group of men who can then dominate them.'´ If this is
regarded as simplistic, it is because of not understanding the e×tent
to which the strategy of constructing laboratories obeys this simpli-
ncation. Rou×, bent over a microscope, observing diphtheria bacilli,
is stronger than those bacilli, whereas the same microbes, if let loose
in nature, laugh at men or kill them. The difference made by the
laboratory is small yet crucial. In it the power ratio is reversed, phe-
nomena, whatever their size~innnitely great or innnitely small~are
retranslated and simplined in such a �ay that a group oI men can
always control them. Wharever the size ofthe phenomena, they always
end up in transcriptions that are easy to read and about which a few
individuals who have everything within sight argue. This can be re-
garded as a miracle of thought, but as far as I am concerned, the
simplicity of the procedures by which the balance of forces is reversed
is even more e×traordinary.
We shall have to understand by what mechanism and skills a hand-
ful of men, with nothing but the power of their labor, learned to tame
what for thousands of years had secretly frustrated the wishes of all
men. This play of minimum and ma×imum made a great impression
on their contemporaries. a microparasite could kill a bull or a man
millions of times larger than itself, a few men in their laboratories
could acquire in a generation more knowledge about microbes than
the whole of mankind from the beginning of time.
Many commentators have insisted on this double disproportion.
The innnitely small have been killing us for thousands of years, and
the application of a few men was enough to reveal all their tricks.
"This microbe of contagion, which we have seized, which we have
been able to reproduce through the artince of its culture in the ap-
propriate liquids . . . it is possible, by e×erting upon it certain influ-
ences of which the e×perimenter is master and which he directs as he
wishes, to rob it of its e×cess of energy and to make it, after dimin-
ishing its power to the degree necessary, no longer thc agent of death,
but that of preservation" ¸Bouley. I&&I, p. 547).
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 75
It is not I who am talking about trials of strength but Bouley and,
with him, all the scientists of the period.
Wat Makes Pasteurians Tick
Is it possible to understand the events that took place in the laboratory,
which were to have such consequences for all the agents involved?
Yes, on condition that we follow the movement of the laboratory
techniques as a whole. The contribution of the Pasteurians is easily
explained if we follow this movement backward and forward. For
convenience, I divide this movement, which I call the "spring" of the
Pasteurians, into three stages. in the nrst stage move the laboratory
to the place where the phenomena to be retranslated are found, in
the second stage move the phenomena thus transformed into a safe
place, that is, where certainty is increased because they are dominated,
and in the third stage transform the initial conditions in such a way
that the work carried out during the second stage will be applicable
This spring of Pasteurism is obviously another way of denning the
transversal development but also explains its efncacy. Without it the
movement might fail or appear as strategy÷perhaps a strategy of
genius, but one that would evolve only in the void. Canguilhem at-
tributes this privilege of having a grip on reality to the very nature
of the laboratory. ¨Because the laboratory is a place where the natural
data or empirical products of the art are dislocated, a place where
the dormant or impeded causalities are freed, in short, a place where
artinces intended to make the real manifest are worked out, thc science
of the laboratory is of itself directly at grips with the technical activity"
¸ I977, p. 73) .'¯
To attribute to the laboratory such power is to miss everything
that constitutes the spring of the scientinc activity. Many laboratories
have no grip on anything. Since to understand this spring of action
is essential to my purposes, I illustrate it in a simplined way with the
example of anthrax.
The nrst stage is well known. We know how Pasteur or his disciples
always visited in person distilleries, breweries, wine-making plants,
silkworm rearing houses, farms, Alexandria decimated by cholera,
and later, with the Institut Pasteur, all the colonies. £ven at the end
of our period, during the Creat War, Pasteurians still moved their
laboratories to the front in order to collect new microbes. This trans-
76 War and Peace of Microbes
lation of the laboratory is crucial, since it and it alone made possible
the capture. The translation always took place on two conditions.
On the one hand, the Pasteurians moved but remained men of the
laboratory. They brought their own tools, microscopes, sterile uten-
sils, and laboratory logbooks, using them in environments where their
use was unknown. On the other hand, they redirected their labora-
tories to respond to the cause of those they visited.
It was under this double condition that anthra×, 3 cattle disease,
could be redenned as a "disease of the anthra× bacillus." Pasteurians
learned from people on the ground÷farmers, distillers, veterinary
surgeons, physicians, administrators÷both the problems to be solved
and the symptoms, the rhythm, the progress, the scope of the diseases
to be studied. This was the only way of answering all objections
concerning the link between the new agent ¸the microbe) and the old
agent ¸the disease) . We should not forget that the bacillus alone might
interest a microbiologist but that it was not necessarily the "cause"
of anthra×. To get the new agent to do everything that the old disease
did, the Pasteurians had to link it, in the most invincibly skeptical
minds, with all the symptoms of the disease through spectacular e×-
periments. In order to make this link, Pasteur invented the impossible
e×periment: he diluted the original bacillus thousands of times, by
taking several times a drop of the culture liquid an order to start a
new culture, and still caused the complete disease with the last drop
of the last culture. He lost his hero on purpose, as Tom Thumb is
lost in the fairy story. The bacillus, too, emerged triumphant hom
the impossible trial. £ven whcn innnitely removed from the animal,
the bacillus still causes the disease. It became, therefore, the sole agent
of the disease.
The result of these trials was to create a new object that retranslated
the disease into the language of the laboratory. Mow it was the animal
that became like the culture medium: "We inoculate an animal with
the bacillus in its pure state, the bacillus develops under the skin as
in a culture medium and it gradually spreads" ¸Pasteur. I922/I939,
VI, I94) . Conversely, to grow bacilli in the laboratory is not yet to
prove that the soil of Beauce carried them naturally: "These are still
only laboratory e×periments. We must nnd out what happens in the
countryside itself, with all the changes in humidity and culture" ,Pas-
teur: I922/I939, V, 259). This movement hom the laboratory to
the neld cannot be ignored, for by this means new objects intended
for the use of future users was formed.
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 77
When Pasteur wrote a report entitled "Researches into the £tiology
and Prophylaxis of Anthrax in the Department of £ure et Loire.
Report to M. Teisserenc de Bort, Minister of Agriculture and Com-
merce," every word counted. he was addressing a departmental min-
ister. His bacillus would be the cause of anthrax only when it had
done everything that the Ministry of Agriculture knew about anthrax.
To inoculate the animal with a syringe and give it the disease is all
very well, but cows do not get pricked in this way. Pasteur had to
invent a way for the bacillus that was credible, so he fed the animals
with hay that was infected with cultures. This was not enough. The
animals did not die. He then added thistles, thus imitating more and
more closely the nelds that were known to give the disease. The animal
fed with the hay, the bacilli, and the thistles contracted the disease.
We should not underestimate the apprenticeship undergone by the
Pasteurians with their predecessors. Their very success, which con-
cealed their role so well, was due to the attention with which they
retranslated what those predecessors had said. "I have often heard
the knackers, whom I used to warn of the danger that they were
running, assure me that the danger had disappeared when the animal
was rotten and that one need have no fear unless it was warm. Al-
though taken literally, this assertion is incorrect, it nevertheless betrays
the existence of the fact in question ¸the sporulation of bacteria) "
¸Pasteur. I922/I939, VI, 25&) . What is "betrayed" is rather the tran-
scription of practices by the new practices of bacteriology. The new
language can be adopted only if it is made equivalent to everthing
that was said in the old one.
When Pasteurians wrote to a minister, it was not enough to wave
a bacillus. they must also be able to say, for instance, what the "ac-
cursed nelds" mean. For there are many nelds that give the disease,
even many years later. This is the proof of "morbid spontaneity," to
use the language of the veterinary surgeons, or the "curse," in the
language of fhe peasants. To move everyone's belief and replace it by
the bacillus, it is not enough to make fun of peasant backwardness.
It is necessary to be stronger than the accursed neld. Koch had already
explained the temporal rhythm of anthrax by showing that the mi-
crobe could sporulate and survive for years in its dormant form. But
Pasteur pursued something that was rather like an ethnographical
investigation. He concerned himself with techniques of burying the
animals. As the animals lost blood at the moment of burial, they also
lost the bacilli, which were sporulating. This explained how the bacilli
78 War and Peace of Microbes
appeared to "survive.�' Pasteur now had to e×plain the appearance
of the bacilli on the surface many years later in the accursed nelds.
"The Academie will be very surprised to hear the e×planation for
this. Perhaps it will be moved to think that the theory of germs, which
has only just emerged from e×perimental research, has still some
une×pected revelatiot:s to make to science and its applications . . .
£arthworms are the messengers of the germ and from its deep burial
place bring the terrible parasite back to the surface of the soil" ¦I922/
I939, VI, 26O). The earthworm! Yet another une×pected new agent
to be taken into account. This concern with the ncld was not the
result of friendship for the peasants or of some superfluous amuse-
ment. Pasteur knew that only a complete translation would eventually
constitute the phenomenon. The "rod bacterium" in the laboratory
was incapable of becoming the "cause" of anthra×. It would become
so only when Pasteur was able to replace each element that composed
the dennition of thc anthra× with his own term and thus convince
the minister, the veterinary surgeons, and the peasants, as well as
Through this apprenticeship alone was the microcosm, which seems
to reflect the macrocosm so well, gradually built up. And for a very
good reason! The Pasteurians constructed the laboratory in such a
way as to answer the questions asked of them, but they reformulated
them in terms that they understood. Mothing could be more false than
to imagine the Pasteurians as overthrowing the old skills with their
now clear, distinct methods. On the contrary, they learned those skills
but took from them only those elements that they could dominate.
Who taught and who learned? We do not know. That is why the nrst
stage of the Pasteurian method is also a good translation agency. a
new skill emerges from an old skill. We do not have to try to reproduce
the whole of epidemiology, but only that which teaches something
about the life cycle of microbes, nor the whole of pathology, but only
the few symptoms that will enable one to classify the animals infected
by the e×perimental disease. The same process of elimination and
structuration that I described in the case of hygiene, to which was
added the fulcrum of microbes, is found here at its birth. take a few
elements from the neld, then reproduce them in the laboratory in new
conditions. The crucial element in this e×traction and redennition is
to end up e×plaining with the new actor all the main attributes of the
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 79
The Return to the Laboratory
But a Pasteurian does not linger on the terrain of his hastily con-
structed laboratory. Indeed, the knowledge thus accumulated is al-
most always weaker at this stage than is that of the men in the neld,
veterinary surgeons or physicians. The whole Pasteurian strategy, now
that they have e×tracted a few aspects from the macrocosm, is to gain
strength by making d long detour to their central well-equipped lab-
oratory. This is the second stage. Ceographically this stage usually
takes the form of a return to Paris or a veritable shuttle diplomacy
between Paris and the provinces. It is here, of course, that the redef-
inition by Pasteurians of the questions posed by what is now "outside"
Should we now suspend our analysis in terms of trials of strength
from the moment when we have at last reached the microbe "dis-
covered" by Pasteur? Have we arrived at places, methods, types of
agents that differ from those we have so far studied? Do we no-
tice, as we retrace the Pasteurian path, that we have crossed a sacred
fence? Mo, of course not, for urban microbes are made of the same
stock as country microbes. We do not know beforehand what an
agent is doing. We must try it out. This one corrupts a veal stock,
that one transforms st:gar into alcohol, the other one survives in
gelatine but is interrupted in urine. How are we to denne a shape?
Like all the others. they are the edge of trials of strength that others
subject them to. If we boil water nve degrees more, a new species
is then denned, whose "edge" is to resist the temperature of IOOº.
If we deprive it of o×ygen, then others are denned that do not need
Since microbes saw their forms stabilized before the period under
study, it is difncult to recall the time when they were being forged
and tested, like Siegfried's sword. 'º But take, for instance, this new
agent that appears on the scene, in the I &9Os, which is denned by the
list of actions it made, and which as yet has no name. "From the
liquid produced by macerating malt, Payen and Per
oz are learning
to e×tract through the action of alcohol, a solid, white, amorphous,
neutral, more or less tasteless substance that is insoluble in alcohol,
soluble in water and weak alcohol, and which cannot be precipitated
by sublead acetate. Warmed from 65º to 75º with starch in the pres-
ence of water, it separates off a soluble substance, which is de×trin."
80 War and Peace of Microbes
Te Creek name should not make us forget the tests, for it is the
name of an action, like Indian names. Instead of He-Who-Fights-the-
Lyn×, we have He-Who-Separates-Starch. The object has no other
edges, apart from these tests. The proof is that we only have to change
these tests to denne a new agent. '1 more e×tended contact of the
diastasis with the starch paste in turn converts de×trin into a sugar,
which differs from de×trin in that it is no longer precipitated by
sublead acetate" ¸Duclau×, I&9&, p. &) .
In the laboratory any new object i s at nrst denned by inscribing in
the laboratory notebook a long list of what the agent does and does
not do. This dennition of the agent is acceptable, but it runs the risk
of bringing us a new philosophical problem. Did the microbe e×ist
before Pasteur? From the practical point of view÷I say practical, not
theorctical÷it did not. To be sure, Pasteur did not invent the microbe
out of thin air. But he shaped it by displacing the edges of several
other previous agents and moving them to the laboratory in such a
way that they became unrecognizable. This point is not unimportant,
for we often say without thinking that Pasteur ' discovered" the mi-
crobes. Let us see some of these displacements which practically solve
the problem that realist philosophers often have with the history of
The nrst anthra×, as I have said, had previously been denned as a
disease. Its edges had been denned by cows, wounds, corpses, accursed
nelds, veterinary surgeons, and Rosette, who had such a beautiful
hide. The earlier application of a science, which had also come from
Paris or Lyon, had already altered that disease and turned it into an
epizootic disease whose edges, this time, were a set of patches on the
map of France, where we could count its sites, follow its wanderings,
and detect its recurrences. The agent constituted by epidemiology was
rightly called "the anthra× epidemic," in order to sum up all the
statistical trials that denned it. Predecessors÷those who became pred-
ecessors like Arloing or Davaine÷had already brought their labo-
ratory into contact with anthra×. But the new actors did not become
more visible for all that. The tests did not convincc the observers.
The link between anthra× and a contagion remained debatable, that
is, more or less anyone could, without great effort, make several
statements on the subject that were just as plausible as those by
Davaine or Arloing. In going to the laboratory, these authors did not
put an end to the controversy but increased it. This happened because
their laboratory, which had already become an obligatory point of
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 8 1
passage, was not capable of translating into its own language all the
phenomena associated with anthrax. Bypassing it was still easy.
To discover the microbe is not a matter of revealing at last the
¨true agent" under all the other, now "false" ones. In order to discover
the "true" agent, it is necessary in addition to show that the new
translation also includes all the manifestations of the earlier agents
and to put an end to the argument of those who want to nnd it other
names. It is not enough to say simply to the Academie, "Here's a new
agent. " It must be said throughout France, in the court as well as in
town and country, "Ah, so that was what was happening under the
vague name of anthrax! " Then, and only then, bypassing the labo-
ratory becomes impossible. To discover is not to lih the veil. It is to
construct, to relate, and then to "place under. "-
In this transformation of the agents, everything depends on the new
trials. Place a sterile pipette on Rosette's wound, take blood, place a
few drops of it in urine÷these are the new gestures. The translation
of the agents is not intellectual or linguistic, it is found entirely in the
skill. Taking blood is no more abstract, more rational, more rigorous,
more ideal, than milking a cow. Moving from the farm to the labo-
ratory, we do not move from the social to the scientinc or from the
material to the intellectual. The difference comes from the fact that
the world of the pipette, the culture medium, and the guinea pig is a
world-to-grow-the-microbe, just as that of the farm is a world-to-
rear-cows. Indeed, the laboratory itself is constructed only out of the
movement and displacement of other places and skills. The culture
medium, for instance, is at the beginning very close to a cooking
stock. It is not transubstantiated when Duclaux manipulates it. ¨One
obtains a culture medium by leaving for twenty-four hours, in contact
with twice its weight in water, nnely chopped lean veal. One strains
off the liquid, presses out the residue, cooks the resulting liquid for
an hour and strains it. One then adds I % peptone and O.5% sea salt
and enough sodium solution to make what is usually a slightly acid
liquid neutral" ¸Duclaux, I &9&, p. IO5) . To make a gelatine, "one
adds a white of egg, extended by nve or six times its weight in water."
These details are not ridiculous. They are the body and soul of thc
things wc are discussing, as Pasteur himself said. Mothing could be
more wrong than to imagine that the farm is to the laboratory as the
nrst degree of reüection is to the second degree, as practice is to theory,
as "praxis" is to "knowledge. " The laboratory is to the farm what
Duclaux's medium is to soup.
82 War and Peace of Microbes
But to understand more clearly the relation between the Pasteurians
and the microbes that they revealed in the laboratory, we must stress
the fact that, although the trial is new for the Pasteurian, who has
never yet had to take a microbe from a cow, it is even more so for
what will become the microbe. Or rather, the creation of culture media
is just as much a historical event for the microbe as for the Pasteurians.
There is a history of microbes that is also nlled with sound and fury.²'
History is no more limited to the so-called human agents than to the
nonhuman agents. What were once miasmas, contagions, epidemic
centers, spontaneous diseases, pathogenic terrains, by a series of new
tests, were to become visible and vulnerable microorganisms. Why?
Because for the nrst time in the history ot the wotld¦soIemn tone
is not out of place here), the researchers of the Rue d'Ulm were to
offer these still ill-denned agents an environment entirely adapted to
their wishes. "Urine is an excellent culture medium for the bacillus,
if the urine is pure and the bacillus pure, the latter will multiply
promptly" ¸Pasteur. IºZZ/IºJº, VI, Iºº) . For the nrst time these
agents were to be separated out from the confusion of competitors,
enemies, and parasites, which hitherto they had to take into account.
For the nrst time÷for them as well as for us÷they were to form
homogeneous aggregates. This was the decisive advantage of the solid
media later invented by Koch. "The gelatine medium forces each germ
to develop on the spot and to form a colony, which soon becomes
visible to the naked eye and whose form, color, growth, superncial
or profound, and action on the gelatine, are so many characteristics
ready to be consulted, some of which even, in given circumstances,
may become characteristic" ¸Duclaux. I8º8, p. I04) .
Isolated from all the others, microbcs grow enthusiastically in these
media, which none of their ancestors ever knew.²² They grow so
quickly that they become visible to the eye of an agent who has them
trapped there. Yes, a colored halo appears in the cultures. This time
it is the man bent over the microscope who is enthusiastic. This event
completely modines both the agent, which has become a microbe,
and the position of the skillful strategist who has captured it in the
gelatine. Without this transformation's being made on the microbes,
the Pasteurian would have been without a fulcrum. He was now going
to be able to modify the culture medium, starve the microbes, kill
them with antiseptics, make them eat anything, in short, torture them
in innumerable ways, in order to learn something about them each
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 83
What does "to learn" mean in such a conte×t? Are we to arrive at
last at that mysterious world of ideas which seems to float over the
colonies of microbes and to enable us to escape from all trials of
strength. Have we passed the line? Mo, for to learn is simple enough.
It means to note the culturings, number the Petri dishes, record times,
look things up in the archives, transfer from one page to the other of
laboratory logbooks the answers given by the tortured or, if a less
harsh word is preferred, "tested" or, an even gentler word, "e×per-
imented on" objects. In inscribing the answers in homogeneous terms,
alphabets, and numbers, we would beneht from the essential technical
advantage of the laboratory. we would be able to see at a glance a
large number of tests written in the same language. We would be able
to show them to colleagues at once. If they still disputed our hndings,
we would get them to e×amine the curves and dots and ask them.
Can you see a dot? Can you see a red stain? Can you see a spot?
They would be forced to say yes, or abandon the profession, or in
the end be locked up in an asylum. They would be forced to accept
the argument, e×cept to produce other traces that were as simple to
read÷no, even simpler to read.
Although the laboratory is constituted only by displacement and
transfer, it makes an enormous difference in the end. On the farm
there are calves, cows, clutches of eggs, Perette and her milk jug and
the willows beside the pond. It is difhcult to locate Rosette's disease
or to compare it with another. It is difhcult to see anything at all if
what we are looking for is a microbe. So we are doomed to argue
endlessly about the disease. In the laboratory, the researchers have
colony no. 5, no. 7, no. 8, with control colonies no. IZ, no. IJ, no.
I5. A double-entry system with crosses and spots. That is all. We
have only to be able to read records. The argument ,if it is about
these spots) will end. A lot of things may be learned on the farm, but
not how to dehne microbes, which can be learned in the laboratory.
The issue is not that the hrst has an ontological superiority over the
second, it is simply that the laboratory draws on everything÷not
milk, eggs, hrewood, and the hand of the farmer's daughter, but sheets
of paper that can be easily moved and placed on top of one another
and can be argued about at leisure as if we were "on top of the
In the laboratory unprecedented things were now to be e×pressed
in written signs. Impossible superimpositions were to take place,
movements that would have required considerable energes took place,
84 War and Peace of Microbes
trom shcct ot papcr to shcct ot papcr, ovcr a tcw ccntimctcrs. Ior
ncwÍy dchncd microbcs. Vhcrc couÍd wc do such a thingr ÒnÍy in
thc Íaboratory, oncc thc microbcs had aÍÍ bccn writtcn down.
cvcn crror bccomcs usctuÍ. Jhat ChambcrÍandtorgot acuÍturc, that
ÏastcurproposcdtoinocuÍatc animaÍs withit,andthatthcscanimaÍs
survivcd Íongcr attcr ancwinocuÍationottrcshbactcriaarcthctypcs
ot cvcnt that couÍd happcn onÍy in a Íaboratory. Jhc attcnuation
bccomcs visibÍc onÍy in thc middÍc otwcÍÍ-rccordcd controÍ groups.
kcpt Íaboratory Íogbook. Jhc cvcnt, though uncxpcctcd, is normaÍ,
sìncc itis tor ¡ust such ancvcntthata Íaboratory is constructcd. As
Ïastcur might havc said: 'Chancc tavors onÍy wcÍÍ-prcparcd Íabo-
ratorics." !twc makc ncwactorssimuÍtancousÍy visibÍc, wcsccncw
things. Vc must havc our taithwcÍÍ sccurcd to our bodytohndin
!nothcrwords, thc Íaboratory, dircctcdcntircÍytowardarcvcrsaÍ
otthc baÍancc ot powcr, aÍso has a history. Jhc uncxpcctcd oppor-
tunity-a torgottcn cuÍturc-immcdiatcÍy bccomcs a mcthod. Lab-
oratorics convcrtchancc to ncccssity. 'Jhc mcthodotprcparingthc
attcnuatcdvirusiswondcrtuÍÍysimpÍc, sincc onchas onÍyto cuÍtivatc
thc vcry viruÍcnt baciÍÍus in chickcn stock at 4Z-4J" and Ícavc thc
cuÍturc attcr its compÍction in contact with air at this samc tcmpcr-
aturc" ¦Ïastcur. IºZZ/IºJº,V!, J4J) . Vhatwchavcto admircisnot
this taÍsc mystcry that cÍaims to cÍudc triaÍs ot strcngth undcr thc
prctcxtthatthcscpcopÍc arc wcaring whitc coats, butthccÍcvcrncss
otthisreversal otthc baÍanccotpowcr. JhcmicrobcitscÍt,somcwhat
wcakcncd, scrvcs as a doubÍc agcnt and, by warning m advancc thc
immunitary hcÍd, bctrays its companions. !n ordcr notto scc invac-
cination a story otstrcngth andwcakncss,wcmustagainhavcgrcat
taith, a taith that rcsists aÍÍ gucstions.
cxist bctorc Ïastcurr Vc do not know yct. Vc aÍways statc rctro-
spcctivcÍy thc prcvious cxistcncc ot somcthing, which is thcn said to
havc bccn 'discovcrcd. "!nordcrto scparatc invcntiontromdiscov-
aÍittÍc morc. VcnccdÏastcurandhiscoÍÍcagucssucccsstuÍÍyto com-
pÍctc thc third stagc ot thcir movcmcnt. Jhc singÍc tcrm 'anthrax
You Will Be Ïastcurs of Microbes 85
baciÍÍus" must bcmadctoscrvc asa transÍation tor cvcrything that
uscd to bc covcrcd by thc tcrm 'anthrax." Vithout this Íink and
things in thc Íaboratory and a discasc Íctt to itscÍt outside thc Íabo-
ratory, with cndÍcss taÍk hÍÍing thc gap. Îc wouÍd not bc said by
thcrctrospcctivcimprcssion thatthc anthrax baciÍÍushadbccnthcrc
surpriscd it, !astcur had to Íink cach gcsturc in thc Íaboratory with
thattormcothc microbc. Jodothis,thcÍaboratoryhadto bcmovcd
again so that it was actuaÍÍy in contact with cach triaÍ and couÍd
rctransÍatc itinto its owntcrms. !n ordcrtocarryottthis ncw coup,
!astcur had to havc morc than onc trick up his sÍccvc and kccp up
morc than onc nctwork.²¹
The Theater of the Proof, or How To Become Indisputable by
the Greatest Number
Jo go trom Íaboratory triaÍs back to Íitc-sizcd tcsts, thctriaÍs must
thcmscÍvcs bcÍitc-sizc. !twasonthis conditionthatnotonÍythctcw
coÍÍcagucs and coÍÍaborators but aÍso aÍÍ thosc who nccdcd to un-
dcrstand anthrax wouÍd acccpt as indisputabÍc thc rcdchnition ot
anthrax as 'thc discasc causcd bythc anthrax baciÍÍus." !t!astcur`s
invcntcdwith thc aimotdchnitivcÍyconvincingthoscwhoscintcrcst
!astcur`sgcniuswasinwhatmightbccaÍÍcdthctheater of the proof
Îaving capturcd thc attcntion otothcrs onthconÍypÍacc whcrc hc
kncw that hc was thc strongcst, !astcur invcntcd such dramatizcd
cxpcrimcnts that thc spcctators couÍd scc thc phcnomcna hc was
cdgc and Íong cxpcricncc. ßut thc dittcrcntiaÍ dcath that struck a
'asin broad dayÍight. "^obody kncwwhat spontancous gcncration
was, it had givcn risc to a highÍy contusing dcbatc. ßut an cÍcgant,
opcn, swan-ncckcd bottÍc, whosc contcnts had rcmaincd unaÍtcrabÍc
'indisputabÍc." !t is important to undcrstand this point, tor thc ha-
86 War and Peace of Microbes
togcthcr. Îc had to pcrtorm such tcÍÍing cxpcrimcnts bccausc hc
wantcd to convincc thc outsidc torccs that hc had rccruitcd at thc
outsct. AsßouÍcysays. 'Îcis not onc otthoscwhoscvirtuc rcmains
idÍc whcn thcy havc to makc thcir opinion prcvaiÍ" ¦ I88I, p. 54º) .
Jo say thc Ícast| !astcur did not wait tor his idcas to cmcrgc mÍÍy
Îc gavc thcm a Íot othcÍp. Jhc grcatcr thc groups that hc wantcd
to convincc attcr capturing thcir attcntion, thc hardcr hc hit. AÍÍ
commcntators agrcc about his vioÍcncc in argumcnt. Lvcn thc ha-
giographcrs uscphrascs to dcscribc !astcur`s rhctoricaÍ activity that
might bc bcttcr suitcd to thc much-dcspiscd poÍiticians. 'Mastcr ot
whathc kncw to bc thctruth, hcwantcd-hc kncw-how to imposc
it by thc cvidcnt cÍarity ot his cxpcrimcntaÍ dcmonstrations and to
torcc most otthosc who had provcd to bc most unwiÍÍingtodo so
athrstto sharc it with him" ¦ßouÍcy, I88I, p. 54º) .
Jo 'torcc" somconc to 'sharc" onc`s point otvicw, onc must
indccd invcnt a ncw thcatcr ot truth. Jhc cÍarity ot !astcur`s cxpo-
sitionsis not what cxpÍains his popuÍar succcss, onthccontrary, his
movcmcnt to rccruit thc grcatcstpossibÍc numbcr ot aÍÍics cxpÍains
thc choicc ot his dcmonstrations and thc visual guaÍity othis cxpcr-
imcnts. '!n thc Íast instancc," as onc uscd to say, thc simpÍicity ot
thc pcrccptuaÍ ¡udgmcnt on which thc sctting up ot thc proot cuÍ-
minatcdiswhat madc thc dittcrcnccand carricd conviction. !astcur
and discussion on a tcw cxtrcmcÍy simpÍc pcrccptuaÍ contrasts. ab-
scncc/prcscncc, bctorc/attcr, Íiving/dcad, purc/impurc.
Òtcoursc,thcÍaboratoryaÍso accumuÍatcs aÍargcnumbcrottriaÍs
and data that rcmain unknown to thcpubÍic. !astcur is ncvcrthcÍcss
to myknowÍcdgcthconÍyrcscarchcrwhowasabÍcto intcrcstaÍargc
cducatcdpubÍicinthc wcÍÍ-nigh daiÍy drama othiscxpcrimcnts. Lct
usnottorgctthattor aÍmost adccadcthcRevue Scientifque toÍÍowcd
wcck bywcckthc rcscarch bcing carricd outinthc Kuc d`UÍm. Jhis
situation was a Íong way trom that ot thc Íaboratory isoÍatcd trom
socicty whosc bcnchts wouÍdÍatcr takcthc tormottcchnicaÍ rcsuÍts.
^o, thc vcry gcncsis ot thc data was toÍÍowcd stcp by stcp. l havc
contagion cnvironmcnt madc itpossibÍcto idcntity macroscopic hy-
gicnc and thc Íaborato
y-but ! must now show how intcrcst was
maintaincd on thc part ot thc !astcurians by cvcr morc astonishing
You WilBe Ïastcurs of Microbes 87
cxpcrimcnts. Jhc cttcct was aÍÍ thc morc powcrtuÍ inthat thc Íabo-
ratory, on thc basis ot its own probÍcms and proccdurcs, was pro-
ducingrcsuÍtsthatcachtimc¡ustihcd, simpÍihcd, or strcngthcncdthc
havc rcmaincd undiscusscd bccausc thcy intcrcstcd nobody or, Íikc
thoscotDavainc, havcbccndiscusscdbutrcmaincd disputabÍc.Vith
his capturcotintcrcsts,onthconchand, andhisthcatcrotproot, on
uÍd bcuntair notto grant him gcnius.
was not cxccptionaÍ, it was spccihcd. !ndccd, cvcn itthc !astcurians
dcvcÍopcd a bioÍogy in thc Íaboratory, thcy did not practicc a labo
ratory bioÍogy. Jcy didnotÍcavcto othcrs, asapparcntÍyhappcncd
in LngÍand, thc ¡ob ot using or appÍying thcir rcsuÍts, contcnting
thcmscÍvcs with 'purc scicncc."²¯ ^o, thcy wcnt on winding up a
thc oppositc dircction. !n this third stagc thcy sct out to transtorm
thc hcÍd trom which thcy had comc according to Íaboratory spccih-
cations, in such a way as to rctain thc baÍancc ot powcr that thcy
had bccn abÍc to rcvcrsc in thc sccond stagc. Jhc third stagc is thc
mostspcctacuÍar, and 'thc wondcrtuÍ cxpcrimcnt ot!ouiÍÍy Íc !ort"
isthcarchctypcotitinthcpagcsotthcRevue Scientifque. AsßouÍcy
writcs. '!ouiÍÍy-Íc-!ort, as tamous today as aÍÍ thc battÍchcÍds . . .
Nonsicur !astcur, a ncw ApoÍÍo, was not atraid to dcÍivcr oracÍcs,
morc ccrtain ot succcss than thc son otpoctry wouÍd bc" ¦ I88J,p.
Vhat has not bccn writtcn about !ouiÍÍy-Íc-!ort| Yct itwas onÍy
thc hnaÍ cpisodc in this thcatcr otproot, thc drcss rchcarsaÍs wcrc
mcdia. !astcurprcdictcdthat a ÍototunvaccinatcdshccpwouÍddic.
'Jhc samc numbcr ot animaÍs, which had bccn covcrcd with thc
paÍÍadium otthc ncw vaccinc, rcmaincd invuÍncrabÍc to tataÍ inocu-
Íation, and wcrc shown, vcry much aÍivc, surroundcd by corpscs"
¦ßouÍcy. I88I, p. 548) . Jhcrcwas taÍk otmiracÍcs, but wc havc to
undcrstand what givcs thc impression ot a miracÍc. !twc torgct thc
88 War and Peace of Microbes
with thc onc that many phiÍosophcrs havc tircÍcss!y ccÍcbratcd, thc
adequatio rei et intellectus. JhcprcdictionsotthcÍaboratoryhavcan
appÍication in rcaÍity. Yct in practicc, thc prcdiction is at oncc Ícss
cxtraordinary and morc intcrcsting. Lvcn ßouÍcy, thc chictthuritcr,
is obÍigcd to admit as much. '!n a program Íaid out in advancc,
simpÍy Íookcd Íikc audacity, tor hcrc thc oracÍc was rcndcrcd by
scicnccitscÍt,that is to say, itwas thc cxprcssion ota Íong scrics ot
cxpcrimcnts, otwhich thc unvaryingconstancyotthcrcsuÍtsprovcd
with absoÍutc ccrtainty thc truth ot thc Íaw discovcrcd" ¦ I88I, p.
548) . Jhc imprcssion ot a miracÍc is providcd by thc grcat brcak
bctwccn thc 'Íaboratory," in which scicntihc tacts wcrc madc, and
thc 'outsidc," whcrc thcsc tacts wcrc vcrihcd. Jhc imprcssion dis-
appcars, according to ßouÍcy, it onc considcrs thc Íong, continuous
in which cascthcrc is nothingto gct cxcitcd about, o:itwas not, in
whichcasc it was a gambÍcthatmighthavcgoncwrong.!astcur, as
aÍways, says much morc about this than his admircrs. !n a tamous
passagcthat is rarcÍy guotcdinits cntircty, !astcur constructs aruÍc
! admit, had thc boÍdncss otprophccics that onÍy a dazzÍing succcss
couÍd cxcusc. 5cvcraÍ individuaÍs wcrc kindcnoughtopointthis out
to mc, adding B tcw criticisms conccrning my scicntihc imprudcncc.
Îowcvcr,thcAcadcmic must undcrstandthatwchavcnotdrawnup
such a programwithout a soÍid basis in carÍicr cxpcrimcnts, though
!ndccd, chancctavors prcparcd minds, anditisinthisway, !bcÍicvc,
that onc must undcrstand thc inspircd words otthc poct. audentes
fortuna juvat" ¦ IºZZ/IºJº,V!, J48) . Jhc scopcthatwasto bcgivcn
to thc cxpcrimcntwas not cxactÍy a guarantcc. ConvcrscÍy, thc cx-
pcrimcntwas notcntircÍy without guarantcc. Jhcrc was arisk. Jhis
riskwas contrary to scicntihcprudcncc. ßut !astcur was wcÍÍ awarc
that thc cpistcmoÍogy ottaÍsihcation was taÍsc. that onÍy thc victor
¡ustitythcrisky crossing otthc bridgc atArcoÍc. Jhc audacitythatis
onÍy an 'appcarancc," accordingtoßouÍcy,is on thc contrary rcaÍ,
hc was trying to wind up. sct out trom thc tarm and rcturn to it a
victor, but without bcing too ccrtain otit, cxpccting !ortunc to do
You Will Be Ïastcurs of Microbes 89
thc rcst, that cxtra bitwhich couÍd bring thc ÍittÍc Íaboratorytothc
Íitc-sizcd tarm. Vc know that hc was ncrvous, wc can scc why ¦L.
DucÍaux, I8º6/IºZ0, L.^icoÍ, Iº/4) .
Lct ustoÍÍow thc cavaÍcadc again. Jhc Íaboratory hrst movcd to
Íaboratory thc baciÍÍi cuÍturcs wcrc movcd, purihcd, and inocuÍatcd
on an cntirc cxpcrimcntaÍ tarmyard, thcrc, too, thc bactcrium was
wcakcncdandthc animaÍs` bodics wcrc strcngthcncdbyvaccination
¦sccond stagc). LastÍy, attcr thc transtormation ot a tarm in such a
way thatit partÍy obcycd thc conditions ota Íaboratory cxpcrimcnt
andmaintaincd thc rcvcrsaÍ otthcbaÍanccotpowcr, thccxpcrimcnts
carricdoutinthc ccntraÍ Íaboratorywcrc rcpcatcd ¦third stagc).Jhc
whoÍc otthc !astcurianarcis indccd dazzÍing, butthc cxpcrimcnt ot
!ouiÍÍy-lc-!ortinthccontcxtotthc arcisnotmiracuÍous. !tisbcttcr
thanthat. !t has chcck.
!n thc coursc otthis third stagcis toundthc samcphcnomcnonot
ncgotiation as in thc hrst. !ndccd, thc account ot thc cxpcrimcnt
discusscd with thc 5ocictc d`AgricuÍturc at NcÍun is caÍÍcd a 'con-
vcntion program. "|ust as somc cÍcmcnts otthc hcÍd wcrc takcn to
thc Íaboratory, so ccrtain cÍcmcnts ot thc Íaborato
y wcrc takcn to
otthis vaccinc it thc tarm was notto somc cxtcnt transtormcd into
a Íaboratory anncx. !or instancc, thc vaccinatcd animaÍs had to bc
scparatcd trom thc nonvaccinatcdoncsandmarkcd by a hoÍcinthc
car, cvcry day thcir tcmpcraturcs had to bc chcckcd and rccordcd,
syringcs hadto bcstcriÍizcd, andmorc andmorccontroÍgroupshad
known to !crcttc and Koscttc had in turn to bc movcd so that thc
dctcatcd microbcs couÍd this timc bccomc visibÍc thcrc. !or aÍÍ this,
ncgotiations had to bc carricd out with thc organizcrs so that thc
rcsuÍts otthc Íaboratory couÍd bc transtcrrcd. Jhc ncgotiationswcrc
it hc dcpartcdtoo much trom 'prcvious cxpcrimcnts," thc cttcct ot
hisvaccinc mightrunthc risk otno Íongcr bcingdctcctabÍcand thc
whoÍcthingcouÍd turn into a hasco.
Òncc !ortunc had smiÍcd on thc bravc man who had addcd U
scicntihcprudcncc a Íitc-sizcdcxpcrimcntthcr�suÍtsotwhichcouÍd
not bc guarantccd, !astcur appÍicd this doubÍc stratcgy. Òn thc onc
hand, hc constructcdthc whoÍc otthc arcthatwouÍd cnabÍchim to
90 War and Peace of Microbes
mcchanism) , but on thc othcr hand, hc imputcd or Íctt othcrs to
imputc aÍÍ thc prcdictions to '5cicncc" ¦thc sccondary mcchanism).
Jhat thc truth otthc Íaboratory couÍd bcappÍicd atÏouiÍÍy-Ic-!ort
thcnbccamc a miracÍc, acccptcd by aÍÍ as such, otwhichhcbccamc
thc prophct. Jhis doubÍc movcmcnt was admirabÍc butnotmagicaÍ.
!or mc, thc most incomprchcnsibÍcthingaboutthcunivcrsc is that
anyonc shouÍd rcgard as incomprchcnsibÍc thc ncvcrthcÍcss simpÍc
way bywhich wc makc it comprchcnsibÍc.
From the Micro- to the Macrocosm
AÍÍthcÏastcurian 'appÍications" wcrc 'dittuscd," aswcsay, onÍyit
it was prcviousÍy possibÍc to crcatc in situ thc conditions ot a Íabo-
ratory. Jhc pastcurization ot bccr or miÍk, hcrmcticaÍÍy conccaÍcd
containcrs, hÍtcrs, vaccincs, scrums, diagnostic kits-aÍÍthcscscrvcd
as proot, wcrc dcmonstrativc and cthcacious, onÍyinthcÍaboratory.
thcphysician's othcc, thc vinc growcr's wincry, hadto bc cndowcd
with aÍaboratory. Òt coursc, thc cntirc ÍaboratoryinthcKuc d'UÍm
didnot havcto bc movcd orrcproduccd,¡ ustcertain otitscÍcmcnts,
ccrtain gcsturcs, ccrtain proccdurcs, which wcrc practi
and wcrc indispcnsabÍcto maintaining in cxistcncc thcphcncmcnon
in gucstion. !ndccd it was by hoÍding to this Íast stagc ot thc work
that thc Ïastcur !nstitutc and its subbranchcs wcrc to havc a Íasting
mcans ot occupying thc hcÍd.
!tÏastcurhadwrittcn aworkonthc socioÍogyotthc scicnccs, hc
might havc cntitÍcd it 'Givc mc a Íaboratory and ! shaÍÍ raisc thc
worÍd" ¦Latour. Iº8Jb) . As with Archimcdcs' Ícvcr, thc tuÍcrum ot
thc Íaboratory on domcsticatcd microbcs madc possibÍc a real dis
placement otthc worÍd. Jhc casc otanthrax shows why: ÏouiÍÍy-lc-
!ortmighthavc rcmaincd an isoÍatcd casc, an intcrcsting prototypc
with no tuturc. ßut Ïastcur did not wait tor thc tuturc, hc rccruitcd
it. ÏouiÍÍy-Íc-!ort was a Íargc-scaÍc thcatcr within whichwith ovcr-
whcÍming argumcnts hc couÍd convincc cguaÍÍy cnormous sociaÍ
govcrnmcnt ministcrs. !ndccd, thc third stagc was notyct compÍctc.
Òn|unc I, I882, thc Íaboratory`s hcdotactionwas gcographicaÍÍy
cxtcndcdtothccxtcntthatJ00,000 animaÍs, incÍudingZ5,000cows,
wcrc vaccinatcd. According to thc statistics, thc mortaÍity ratc tcÍÍ
You Will Be Ïastcurs of Microbes 91
tromºpcrccntto0. 65pcrccnt.JhccditoriaÍcontinucs. 'Controntcd
against anthrax" ¦Anon. . I88Z, p. 80I) .
5owchavc rcturncdtothc macrocosm, tostatisticaÍ data, to thc
oÍdcpidcmioÍogy,to prcciscÍythattromwhichwc sctoutandwhich
showcd onthc maps, thc crratic cxpansionotthc ccntcrs otanthrax
intcction. ^ow thc samc statisticaÍ apparatus was uscd by thc !as-
tcurians as a grcat account book to toÍÍow, Íitc-sizc, that vast Íabo-
ratory cxpcrimcnt onthc scaÍc ot!rancc itscÍt, bywhichthcratc ot
thc dcath otvaccinatcd animaÍs was comparcdwith that otnonvac-
ÎavcwcrcturncdcxactÍyto ourstartingpointr ^o,torthcrcwas
bctorc vaccination and attcr vaccination ¦!astcur: IºZZ/IºJº, V!,
J8J) . Jhis iswhy ! spokcotthcÍcvcr. !hiaÍs otvaccincproduccd in
!astcur`s Íaboratory wcrc distributcd undcr supcrvision to aÍÍ tarms
act as a parasitc on shccp, thus, wc, thc mcn who arc thc parasitcs
otshccp, couÍdusc thc domcsticatcd microbc, thatis, thc attcnuatcd
thc tarmcr and us. Lvcryonc aÍong thc parasitic chain gains, cxccpt
Îadwc not toÍÍowcd simuÍtancousÍy !astcur and his aÍÍics, thcrc
wouÍd havc bccn, on thc onc hand, a scicncc and, on thc othcr, a
amiracÍc. !twc toÍÍowaÍÍ otthcm, wcarc abÍcto scc acontinuityin
thc triaÍs otstrcngth bascd at hrst onthc homc ground, thcn movcd
to thcÍaboratory, thcn rcvcrscd, thcn uscdto movc thctcrraintrom
which thcy startcd. Jhc rcsuÍt ot such an arrangcmcnt, such a twist,
is that a minimum otcttort-a man, a tcw bactcria, a tcw ycars ot
work-has in thc cnd thc maximum cttcct. Jhc intcrcst in this way
ot sccing things is that wc avoid thc crror with which wc sct out.
!astcur`sworkdocsnot'cmcrgcinsocicty"to 'inhucncc"it. !twas
aÍrcady in socicty, it ncvcr ccascd to bc so. Jhc vcry cxistcncc ot
on ahrstscicncc, statisticaÍ cpidcmioÍogy. Jhis anthraxwasnomorc
'outsidc" than !astcur`s anthrax. !t was simpÍy in thc othccs otthc
Ninistry ot AgrícuÍturc, obtaincd by movcmcnts ot civiÍ scrvants,
rcscarchcrs, and inspcctors, which madc it possibÍc to obtain thc
mortaÍíty hgurcs and, in a singÍc spot, thc statistics. Jhis cvidcncc is
92 War and Peace of Microbes
nor thc cthcacy ot !astcur's vaccinc as a nationaÍ saÍvation wouÍd
havcbccnvisibÍcwithoutthishrstmeasuring apparatus, thcstatistics
otthc NinistryotAgricuÍturc, whosc historymustbcwrittcn in thc
Jhcsamcgocs torthc 'cthcacy" ot!astcurismas torthc 'discov-
cry"otthcmicrobcsortorthc 'prcdictions"ot!ouiÍÍy-Íc-!ort. Jhcy
wcrc miracÍcs it wc torgct that thc !astcurians crcatcd in advancc
nctworks in which thcy couÍd rcvcrsc thc baÍancc ot torccs. !t is a
gcncraÍ ruÍcthatwc ncvcr obscrvc in 'scicncc" or 'tcchnoÍogy" thc
cmcrgcncc ot a rcsuÍt, a proccss, a tcchniguc, or a machinc. Jhc
'outsidc" ot such nctworks wouÍd bc so unprcdictabÍc, so unorga-
nizcd,thatthc ÍaboratoryrcsuÍts wouÍd bconccagaininconscgucnt.
JhcywouÍdhavc thc Íowcr hand, thcy wouÍdbccomcdisputabÍc.
nctwork guaÍity ot scicncc, hc has onÍy to Íook at thc poÍcmics in
which !astcur cngagcs onthc sub¡cctotcxtcnding thc appÍicationot
thc anthrax vaccinc. Jhcrc again !astcur knows vcry wcÍÍ that thc
!nthcscssions otthcAcadcmic, CoÍinis!astcur'swhipping boy,tor
Colin: Jhis Íiguid was activc at thc bcginning, ! havc watchcd it
kiÍÍ rabbits and cvcn a shccp, but attcr a tcw months it no Íongcr
broughtonanthrax. Vhy it bccamc incrt l don'tknow.
Pasteur: ßccausc it had bccomc impurc in your hands.
Colin: ßut it had ncvcr bccn incontactwith thc air.
Pasteur: Îow did you uncork itr
his assistants to draw it out otthc apparatus and to rccÍosc it. . .
Pasteur: !n tact, aÍÍow mc to say that you nccd to study thcsc
gucstions a good dcaÍ morc. . .
Colin: jJhcgcrmcorpuscÍcs] wcrcto bctoundthcrcinÍargcnum-
bcrs and with thcir originaÍ charactcristics.
Pasteur: lhavcaÍrcadytoÍdyouthatthatisimpossibÍc. . . ßutyou
donotknow how to withdraw this organism in such a way as not
tointroducc a ncwimpurity into thc tubc. Îow doyou cxpcct usto
givc any crcdcncc to your asscrtionsr You arc stiÍÍ sccking not thc
truthbut contradiction. ¦!astcur. IºZZ/IºJº,V, J5/)
You Will Be Ïastcurs of Microbes 93
Îc is thc onc who bcÍicvcs that thcrc arc idcas in scicncc. ßut no,
onc gains crcdit with onc`s hngcrs. !hcnomcna rcmain onÍy as Íong
as onc maintains thcm within thc triaÍs ot strcngth. A baciÍÍus is
cscapc trom thc nctworks that makc thcm. !t ottcn sccmcd tor in-
bordcr.²" Îowcvcrmuchittricdto bc'univcrsaÍ,"itrcmaincdÍocaÍ.
!astcur had to insistthatthcpracticcsothis Íaboratory bcrcpcatcd
cxactÍyitthc vaccinc wcrc to travcÍ.
Jcchnigucs arc ncithcr vcrihcd nor appÍicd, thcy can onÍy bc rc-
pcatcd and cxtcndcd on condition that thcirmovcmcnt is prcparcd
Jhcrc is nothing cxtraordinary in this. A thcatcr otproot, Íikc thc
ordinarythcatcr, nccds aÍÍ its acccssorics. Jhc shapc otthc microbc
varicsintcmpcraturc,thcphcnomcna disappcar, thatis, thcychangc
thcirdchnitions. !romthis point otvicwthc !astcuriansarc Íikcthc
thcydccÍarc to bc madc indisputabÍc on aÍÍ points.
'VcÍÍ, Nistcr Know-!t-AÍÍ, did !astcur discovcr thc causc otan-
^ow! shouÍd Íikc to rcpÍy at Íastin thc athrmativc. ßutthis at-
hrmativc is aÍso accompanicd by a Íot ot acccssorics. Òncc thc sta-
tisticaÍ apparatus that rcvcaÍs thc dangcr otanthrax and thc cthcacy
ot thc vaccinc, has bccn stabiÍizcd, oncc at thc !nstitut !astcur thc
proccdurcstorwcakcning, conditioning, andscndingthcvaccincmi-
crobchavc bccn stabiÍizcd, oncc!astcurhas Íinkcdhis baciÍÍus with
cach otthc movcmcnts madc by thc 'anthrax," thcn and onÍy thcn
is thc doubÍc imprcssion madc: thc microbc has bccn discovcrcd
and thc vaccinc is distributcd cvcrywhcrc.²" Jhis doubÍc pro¡cction
in timc and spacc is not taÍsc, it onÍy takcs Íong, Íikc any pro¡cc-
tion in thc cincma, to construct, to tocus, and to tunc. ! wouÍd bc
prcparcd to say that !astcur had 'rcaÍÍy discovcrcd" thc truth ot
thc microbc atÍast,itthcword'truc"wouÍdaddmorcthan contu-
94 War and Peace of Microbes
The Style Is the Pasteurian
Îaving dcscribcd!astcur`s sidcways movcmcnt and thcvcryspcciaÍ
strcngththatcnabÍcdhim to hoÍdtogcthcrwhatsccmcddis¡ointcd,!
wiÍÍ bccomc aÍittÍc morc ambitious and dchnc with somc prccision
whatwasmcantto bca!astcurianinthispcriod. !graspitas atcrm
otstle. |ustasthcrcwas ahygicniststyÍc,thcrc was astyÍc thatcouÍd
bc rccognizcd at hrst gÍancc as !astcurian. A scicntihcarticÍcis not
ot coursc a dcscriptionor a distraction. !t is a mcans otprcssurc on
to do, orwhatthcywantto bc. !nordcrto construct thoscpathsthat
himscÍt with cvcrything that may tcnd to support his point otvicw
and to makc his concÍusions as indisputabÍc as thc coursc ot a rivcr
throughaV-shapcd vaIÍcy. Jhismuch is gcncraÍ. Jhc particuÍartca-
turc ot thc !astcurian articÍcs is that thcy oricnt thc rcadcr aÍong a
sÍopc, but this sÍopc cncountcrs ordcrs otprcoccupauon absoÍutcÍy
aÍicn to onc atiothcr. Jhis charactcristic cnabÍcs thc !astcurians to
'tic" togcthcr thc torccs that thcy capturc, to usc thcm, and thus to
incrcascthcwcak torccs that thcy throwinto thc battÍcs otthc timc.
Jo takcanothcrmctaphor,thc!astcurianscrossdiagonally thctront
ot thc advcrsc torccs and, by this movcmcnt, bccomc thcir Ícadcrs,
dctÍccting thcir movcmcnt through thc hcÍp thcy hnd in cach ot thc
othcr groups. Jhc subtÍcty and cÍcgancc ot this styÍc ot action may
bc shown, astonishingÍy cnough, in a singÍc articÍc as wcÍÍ as in thc
totaÍ corpus ot thc Annales de I'Institut Pasteur. Jo bcgin with, Íct
us takc an articÍc writtcn byYcrsin, cntitÍcd 'Jhc ßubonic !Íaguc at
Îong Kong" ¦ I8º4, p. 66J).³
Ycrsin bcgins by summarizing thc contribution ot a ccntury-oÍd
scicncc, cpidcmioÍogy, onc ot whosc aims was to throw back thc
microscopic'barbarians" bcyondthc tronticrs otthcwcstcrnworÍd.
'At thc bcginning ot Íast Nay, thcrc brokc out at Îong Kong an
cpidcmicot bubonic pÍagucthatprovcd dcadÍyto thcChincscpop-
uÍation otthatcity.Jhc discaschadbccnragingtoravcryÍongtimc
in an cndcmic statc on thc high pÍatcaus ot Yunnan and trom timc
to timc had appcarcd guitc ncar thc tronticr ot our !ndo-Chincsc
posscssions at Ncng-tsu, Lan-Chow, and !ci-hai." 5inccthctimc ot
thcKcnaissancc, thc contradiction has aÍwaysbccnthc samc. to cx-
tcndcommcrciaÍroutcs was to aÍÍow microbcs to muÍtipÍy. 'Laisscz
tairc, Íaisscz passcr" prohtcd not onÍy thc mcrchants. 'Jhc grcat
You WilBe Ïastcurs of Microbes 95
commcrciaÍ movcmcntbctwccn Canton and Îong Kong,onthc onc
hand, and bctwccn Îong Kong and Jonkin, on thc othcr, and thc
guarantinc makcs thc !rcnch govcrnmcnttcarthat!ndochinawiÍÍbc
¡nvadcd by thc cpidcmic."
Jhcrc is stiÍÍ nothing originaÍ about thc bcginning otthis articÍc,
which contorms to aÍÍ thc canons ot hygicnc. Jhc statc dctcnds its
tronticrs with soÍdicrs against Íargc-scaÍc cncmics and with doctors
against smaÍÍ-scaÍconcs. !n Jonkin thc !rcnch go onÍy as tar as thcy
arc aÍÍowcd to bythc puÍÍuÍation otparasitcs and microbcs that sc-
and, ot coursc, thcir dogs, cats, and buttaÍocs: '! rcccivcd trom thc
Ninistry ot1hc CoÍonicsthc ordcr to go to Îong Kong andto study
thcnaturc otthc scourgc, thc conditions inwhich it sprcads, and to
scck thc most cttcctivc mcasurcs to prcvcnt it rcaching our posscs-
sions."JhcpÍaguc couÍdswccpaway'posscssions," ¡ust as anthrax
couÍd dccimatc !rcnch Íivcstock. Jhcrc, too, a ministcr cntrustcd a
Jhcccntury sawinnumcrabÍc grcat missions otinguiryinto ways ot
protcctingparasitcs ¦whitc-skinncdmacroparasitcs) againstparasitc>
¦microparasitcs in thc torm ot miasmas or ccntcrs ot intcction). At
this point, howcvcr, thc articÍc takcs a guitcdittcrcntturn: '!sct up
my Íaboratory in a strav hut that ! had buiÍt, with thcpcrmissionot
thc ßritish govcrnmcnt, insidcthcwaÍÍs otthcmainhospitaÍ. "
AÍthoughhcwas a coÍoniaÍphysiciansccondcÍass, Ycrsin didnot
by thc hostiÍc LngÍish doctors) . Jhis was thc hrst dispÍaccmcnt. Jhc
sccond dispÍaccmcnt was thc tact that aÍthough hc was insidc thc
hospitaÍ, hc was in his Íaboratory. Jhc third dispÍaccmcnt was that
hc brought with him his Íaboratory that hc had buiÍt attcr many
horrors, itwas thc Íaboratory thatwas givcn hrst priority.
Jhc articÍc thcn takcs up thc rcsuÍts ot a dittcrcnt scicncc, not
cpidcmioÍogy but cÍinicaÍ mcdicinc. Ycrsin is no Íongcr discussing
ccntcrs otintcction or gÍobaÍ gcography, but symptoms. Îc is dis-
cussing an abstract paticnt, whosc scmioÍogicaÍ tabÍc hc sums up.
Jhcrc canbc no doubtthat what hc is controntcd with is 'bubonic
pÍaguc": 'Îcrc arc thc symptoms ot thc discasc: suddcn outbrcak
attcrtourandahaÍttosix day`s incubation, torpor,prostration.Jhc
paticntsuddcnÍy has a high tcvcr, ottcn accompanicd by dcÍirium."
96 War and Peace of Microbes
At thc cnd otthc cÍinicaÍ picturc, hc sums up in a word anothcr
sctotdata, whichthis timc comc tromhospitaÍstatistics: 'NortaÍity
isvcry high: about º5" in thc hospitaÍs| " At this stagc Ycrsin has
hc compÍctcÍy changcs rcgistcr and movcs into what wc might caÍÍ
urban hygicnc. Jhc city considcrcd as a sick body is studicd as a
whoÍc: `hisintcrcstingtoobscrvcthat, inmostotthccitywhcrcthc
cpidcmicbrokcoutin thc hrstpÍacc andcauscdmostdcvastation, a
ncw systcm ot drains had ¡ust bccn instaÍÍcd." Jhc circuÍation ot
microbcs and otdirtywatcr orcxcrcmcntis as contradictory as that
ot cmpircs and cpidcmics. Îow can onc dcsign drains so that thcy
cvacuatc rctusc without contaminating,»hcn thosc IÍows ot watcr,
cxcrcmcnt, and microbcs do not movc in thc samc wayr Jhis is a
hadno troubÍc dcmonstratingthcbaddcsignotthc drainsthatcvac-
uatcd somcwatcr but aÍÍowcd thc microbcs to proÍitcratc.
Îc thcn passcd to a ncw sct ot conccrns, which might bc caÍÍcd
tyingotthc soiÍ tubs, 'whosc contcnts, attcrundcrgoing somc prcp-
aration, is uscd to tcrtiÍizc thc innumcrabÍc Chincsc gardcns that
bordcr thc Canton rivcr." AÍÍ thcsc dctaiÍs mattcr whcn wc arc con-
sidcring a city as a cuÍturc mcdium ÍikcÍy to cncouragc or attcnuatc
thc action ot a microbc.
ßutso tar Ycrsin issummingup whathchasÍcarncdtrom othcrs.
Îc adds nothing to it. Îc docs not curc anyonc, hc docs not aÍtcr
thchygicnc otthccity, hc docsnotrcarrangcthcdrainagcsystcm, hc
docs notadd any ncwsymptomto thc cÍinicaÍpicturc. Distrustcd by
thcLngÍishauthoritics and compctingwiththc|apancscbactcrioÍo-
gists, hc crosscs through aÍÍ thcsc intcrcsts. lt is thc samc whcn hc
passcs through what might bc caÍÍcdthc sociaÍ gucstion: 'Jhc Íodg-
ings occupicd by Chincsc otthc poorcr cÍasscs arc cvcrywhcrc hÍthy
hovcÍs, which onc hardÍy darcs to cntcr and in which an incrcdibÍc
numbcrotindividuaÍs arc crammcd. . . Ònccanundcrstandthcrav-
agcs wrought by an cpidcmic whcn it takcs root in such a tcrrain,
and thc dithcuÍty thcrc must bc in cÍiminating it|"
tor thc cpidcmic. Îc is not thcrc to wccp ovcr thc 'poor cÍasscs,"
any morcthanhc is thcrc to trcatthcsick.Jhisdocsnotprovcthat
hcwas 'hcartÍcss,"onÍy thatthc program onwhichhcwas working
You Will Be Ïastcurs of Microbes 97
mcdicinc orhygicnc. Jhis Ïastcurianprogram rcguircd himtocross
through aÍÍ thcsc discipÍincs as tast as possibÍc.³²
5o tar, Ycrsin sccms to supcrimposc disparatc cÍcmcnts. ßut thc
Íink bcgins to cmcrgc, a Íink that onÍy a Ïastcurian couÍd considcr
attcctcd. NorcintcrcstingÍystiÍÍ, hcwritcs: 'JhcscLuropcanhouscs
arc ncvcrthcÍcss not cxcmpt trom aÍÍ dangcr, tor onc ohcn hnds in
thcmdcadrats, indubitabÍccÍucsto thc cÍoscproximityotintcctious
gcrms. "Vc may comparc ccntcrs otcndcmic discascs with ccntcrs
ot cpidcmics, wc may comparc thc various districts in thc city ac-
cording to racc, housingconstruction,wcaÍth, agricuÍturaÍ practiccs,
anddrainagc systcms. ßut abovc aÍÍ-andthisis an addition that a
hygicnist wouÍd not makc-wc may bcgin to comparc thc various
animaÍs that havc taÍÍcn sick trom thc pÍaguc. Jhcy do not aÍÍ dic,
butthcy arc aÍÍ attcctcd in a dittcrcnt way. Îcrc again Ycrsin, Íikc
Ïastcur, Ícarns trom thc knowÍcdgc ot his prcdcccssors: 'Jhc phy-
sicians otthc Chincsc customs who had had thc opportunity otob-
scrving thc cpidcmics at Ïci-hai and Licn-Chu in thc provincc ot
CantonandN. Kochcr� !rcnch consuÍatNcng-tsu,hadaÍrcadyno-
ticcdthatthc scourgc,bctorcstrikingmcn, bcganbykiÍÍingottÍargc
numbcrs otmicc, rats, and buttaÍo. "Jhis curiosity otthc obscrvcrs
is rctransÍatcd byYcrsin into 'variation otviruÍcncc. "Jhc districts,
way. Jhat which wouÍd bc an indcciphcrabÍc puzzÍc tor any othcr
protcssion is prcciscÍy what cnabÍcs Ycrsin to say with somc satis-
taction: 'JhcparticuÍarsusccptibiÍityotccrtain animaÍsto contract
thc pÍaguc aÍÍowcd mc to undcrtakc in good conditions an cxpcri-
mcntaÍ study ot thc discasc." Jhis scntcncc is not markcd by any
cynicism.JhcpÍagucprcscnts itscÍtwcÍÍtothccyc otthc rcscarchcr:
to thc Ïastcurian tactics arc aÍÍ transÍatcd into thc singÍc Íanguagcot
thcvariation otviruÍcncc ota singÍc organism intcrms ottcrrain.
Ycrsin nowhasto dchncthc organismthatwiÍÍrcpÍaccthc sociaÍ
in thc paticnt`s bÍood and in thc bubonic tumors." ßack in his Íab-
tocapturcthc microbchcrcturns immcdiatcÍytohisÍaboratory.Jhc
tumor is no Íongcr a symptom otcÍinicaÍ mcdicinc. !t is what must
º8 War and Peace of Microbes
hÍÍcdwithavcrítabÍc purcc otashort, thicksctbaciÍÍus,withroundcd
thc ccntcr sothat itottcn prcscnts a Íight spacc inthc middÍc."
lt is no Íongcr bctwccn Lan-Chow and Ïci-hai that a ccntcr ot
pÍaguc intcction is dchncd, itis no Íongcr bctwccn thc tcvcrandthc
tumor that thc symptoms ot thc pÍaguc arc dchncd, it is bctwccn
aniÍinc, Gram`s mcthod, and thc microscopc. ^cw triaÍs producc a
ßut again Ycrsin docs notstop at this actor. Îc docs notwritc to
thc ministcr to dcscribc thc baciÍÍus, soon to bc known as 'Ycrsin`s
baciÍÍus. "Îc docsthingstoitinthccuÍturcmcdiumthatmustimitatc
what thc bubonic virus docs on thc body otthc paticnt: 'Jhc puÍp
otthctumor, whcn sownongcÍosc, dcvcÍops whitc,transparcntcoÍ-
onics, wíth irridcsccnt cdgcswhcn cxamincd undcrrchcctcd Íight."
ln prcscnting a baciÍÍi cuÍturc, a rcccnt advcrtising hcadÍinc ran:
'Jhcncw !rcnch coÍonics. " lt was intcndcd as a ¡okc, it was aÍso
corrcct. Jhc Ninistcr otthc CoÍonics was to takc an cxtraordinary
intcrcstinYcrsin`scoÍonics.lsoÍatcdinhis Íaboratory, hcworkcdon
microscopic coÍonics in an cttort to transtorm thosc ot thc macro-
parasitc whosc 'posscssions" wcrc thrcatcncd.
!oÍÍowing aÏastcurianprogram, YcrsinimmcdiatcÍymodihcdthc
cuÍturc mcdium, tor hc was no morcintcrcstcd inthc cuÍturc than in
thcbaciÍÍusitscÍt: 'JhccuÍturcdocs cvcn bcttcrongÍyccrizcdgcÍosc.
Jhc baciÍÍus aÍso grows on coaguÍatcd scrum. ln thc mcdium thc
baciÍÍushas avcry charactcristic appcarancc,vcryrcminisccntotthc
crysipcÍascuÍturc: a cÍcar Íiguid,with curds aÍongits waÍÍs andatthc
cnd ot thc tubc."
ltisaÍÍthcrc.Vccansccthcccntcrs onthcmap otChina,wccan
scc thc poor cÍasscs in thcir hovcÍs, wc can scc thc tumors on thc
armpits ot thc sick, wc can scc thc dcad rats in thc houscs ot thc
thc Chincsc nor thc sorcs northc dcad nor thc rats butthc coÍonics
to Y crsinthanwas any othcr stagc. Vhathcwantcdwasto givcthc
pÍaguc back to thc animaÍs. Îc wantcdtorccnactan cpidcmicinhis
Íaboratory, which wouÍd imitatc thc onc raging outsidc thc Íabora-
You Wil Be Pastcurs of Microbes 99
tory: '!toncinocuÍatcs micc, rats, or guincapigswith thc bubonic
pÍaguc puÍp, onc wiÍÍ surcÍy kiÍÍ thosc animaÍs . . . Jhc guinca pigs
dicdwithin two to hvc days on avcragc, thcmicc bctwccn onc and
thrcc days."!nocuÍationimitatcs contagion.AndY crsinnowinvcnts
a cÍinicaÍ mcdicinc that is no Íongcr Íooking tor symptoms in thc
paucnts ot thc hospitaÍ around him, but in thc guinca pigs that hc
dcÍibcratcÍymakcs sick. ÎcisdoingcÍinicaÍmcdicinc,butonhisown
tcrrain. '¸Atthc autopsy] thc intcsttnc andthc surrcnaÍ capsuÍcs arc
ottcn congcstcd, thc kidncyspurpÍish, thc Íivcr cnÍargcd andrcd,thc
vcry tat tcmaÍc rat ottcn shows a sort ot cruption ot tiny miÍiary
Îcdocsnotstop atancxpcrimcntaÍ anatomopathoÍogy any morc
than at any othcr otthc tcchnigucs that hc has brought togcthcr in
systcm, orracc, butbymixingthccuÍturcmcdia,thctypcotbaciÍÍus,
andthcanimaÍs: 'Ònc cancasiÍypassthcdiscasctromguincapigto
guincapigwiththchcÍp otthcratpuÍpor bÍood. Dcatharrivcsmorc
guickÍyattcra tcwpassagcs. "ConvcrscÍy: 'Ïigcons donotdicwhcn
inocuÍatcdwith amodcratcdosc otthctumorpuÍp, orwithacuÍturc
otthc pÍaguc baciÍÍus."
!n his tcmporary Íaboratory, now dominating thc cpidcmic that
dominatcsoutsidc, YcrsinconcÍudcs: 'JhcpÍagucisthcrctorc acon-
tagious and inocuÍabÍc discasc. !t is ÍikcÍy that rats arc its principaÍ
ßut scarccÍy has hcconcÍudcd than hcrushcs tothc cuÍmination
intcrcsts: thc vaccinc. Jhc articÍc docs not gct so tar. Ycrsin scizcs
onÍyuponthcpaucnts spontancousÍy curcd, andhc m cdiatcÍypÍaccs
ot anyviruÍcncc, cvcn tor micc."
wouÍdno doubt bc capabÍc otgivinganimaÍs immunity againstmc
pÍaguc. ! havc bcgun this Íinc ot cxpcrimcnt thc rcsuÍts otwhich !
shaÍÍ pubÍish Íatcr."
Vc donot havc torcad thousands otpagcs writtcn byhygicnists
100 War and Peace of Microbes
Ycrsin spcaks ot a group ot agcnts, hc immcdiatcÍy oricnts it aÍong
a pro¡cct that docs not intcrcst thc othcr agcnts. A hygicnist might
rcad thc bcginning ot this articÍc, but what wouÍd hc makc ot thc
pigcons, aniÍinc dycs, and 'purpÍish" kidncysr Aphysician might bc
intcrcstcd in thc Íast itcm, providing that thc kidncys bcÍongcd to a
man and not to a guinca pig. ßutwhat wouÍd hc makc otthc ovcr-
narrow drains otÎong Kong, baciÍÍi in gcÍosc, or thc towns ot thc
high Chincsc pÍatcaus r A sociaÍ rctormcr might bc intcrcstcd in thc
hovcÍs ot Îong Kong, butthis docs not mcan that hcwouÍd cntcr a
has a Íight spot in its middÍc, but hc wouÍd notknowwhatto makc
ot aÍÍ thc othcr agcnts, which wouÍd sccm to him to bc guitc incon-
Ycrsin himscÍtwas intcrcstcd in aÍÍthc scrics ot agcnts: thc mac-
roscopicagcnts ¦gcographics, Chincscciucs) andmcmicroscopicagcnts
¦baciÍÍi and thcir coÍorings) . Îc toÍÍowcd thc human agcnts ¡ust as
much as thc nonhuman oncs, broughthis attcntion to bcaron rats
inthc city as inuÍccrs. Vas hcintcrcstcdincvcrything, thcnr^o, hc
was intcrcstcd in nothing, or aÍmost nothing, tor in cach agcnt hc
took onÍy what might Íink it aÍong an obÍigatory passsagc that Ícd
him, bytorccd stagcs, to vaccination. Jhis doubÍc movcmcnt-using
aÍÍ thc agcnts, making usc onÍy ot thosc that Ícd to vaccination-
cxpÍainshis sparc, ncrvous, rapid styÍc, whichrcstsoncvcrythingbut
ncvcr stays stiÍÍ. ÏÍaying on aÍÍ thcprotcssions,hcisaÍways ahcadot
thcm, moving cach otthcm by thc combincd torcc otthc othcrs. ln
hisÍaboratory, bcnding ovcr thc coÍonics that hc has obtaincd Irom
thc uÍccrs otpaticntsinÎong Kong, Ycrsinwastoottcrthc Ministry
ot thc CoÍonics thc pÍaguc baciÍÍus, ¡ust as Ïastcur had givcn it thc
agcnts ot anthrax or rabics. Ycrsin was not invoÍvcd in poÍitics, hc
did not trcat paticnts, hc did not hcÍp thc poor, hc did not rcbuiÍd
thc drains, and hc did not advisc thc Luropcans, yct hc movcd thc
positions ot hcas, rats, coÍoniaÍ administrators, army doctors, Jon-
kincsc, thc poorcr cÍasscs, andbaciÍÍi.
Vhcn l takc not an isoÍatcd articÍc butthc I,500 or so articÍcs that
thc Annales thrcw into thc battÍc trom I 88/ to IºIº, l hnd oncc
againÏastcur`s usc otmovcmcnt and stratcgy-andYcrsin`sstyÍc. lt
You Wil Be Pastcursof Microbes 101
wc arc rightto considcr a scicntihc articÍcasamachinc,how arcwc
to dcscribc a pcriodicaÍ, thc oth
iaÍ pcriodicaÍ ot thc Pastcuriansr
AÍong with thc Íccturcs that taught invcstigators trom aÍÍ ovcr thc
worÍd thc skiÍÍs that wcrc indispcnsabÍc to thc vcry cxistcncc otthc
phcnomcna, with thcvaccincs, scrums, incubators, hÍtcrs, diagnostic
kits, and anaÍysis shccts that cnabÍcd thc Íaboratory to cxtcnd its
powcr, thc ¡ournaÍ was thc most important ot thc !nstitut`s 'prod-
Kcading this scicntihc ¡ournaÍ, wc ncvcrthcÍcss do notÍcavc thc
soÍid tcrrain ot triaÍs ot strcngth. Òn thc contrary, wc arrivc at it.
Jhc so-caÍÍcd tcchnicaÍ articÍc docs not hoat ovcr Íaboratory cxpcri-
mcnts Íikc somc cmpyrcan. !t is part ot thc action ¦CaÍlon ct aÍ. :
Iº86). ltisthc actionitscÍt, thc actionthatconstructscrcdibiÍity and
makcs thc 'scicntihc tacts" disputabÍc orindisputabÍc. Jhc onÍydit-
tcrcncctromthc articÍcsotthcRevue Scientifque isthatthcAnnales
arc addrcsscd to othcr Íaboratorics cngagcd in thc samc tcchnigucs.
Vcmay cxpcct, thcrctorc, to scc anincrcascinwords,tcrms,abbrc-
viations, thatrctcrto thc ÍocaÍ toÍkÍorc and to thc tacitpracticcs ot
aprotcssionaÍ group incrcasing in sizc and cohcrcncc.
!n tact, thc ovcraÍÍ corpus otthc Annales isastonishingÍytaithtuÍ
to thc Ïastcurian spring and rcmains casiÍy anaÍyzabÍc ¦scc hg. Z, p.
Z68) . Jhis istruc,tobcginwith, otthcvcry cxistcncc otthc !nstitut.
Ïastcurbcganto trcat|oscph Ncistcron|uÍy6, I885, onNarch I8,
I886,atthc Acadcmichc poscdthc gucstionotavaccinaÍcstabÍish-
onNarch I4, I888, thcÍaboratoricsotthc !nstitutwcrcopcncd,thc
Annales having bcgun a ycar bctorc. Îas crcdibiÍity ottcn bccn con-
vcrtcd into capitaÍ so guickÍy in thc history otthc scicnccsr Dcspitc
thc Íow numbcr otpaticnts attcctcd by rabics, dcspitcthc poÍcmics
ontrcatmcnt, thctrust otthc pubÍicwas convcrtcd, bythc shortcut
bc possibÍc to producc ncw tacts, rcvcrsc othcr baÍanccs ot torccs,
movcothcrsociaÍ groups, crcatcothcragcnts,cxtcndothcrnctworks.
!n this acccÍcration otconvcrsion wc rccognizcthc typcotdispÍacc-
mcnt so typicaÍ otÏastcur.
Jhis capitaÍization, it has to bc said again, was not ncccssary.
Ïastcur couÍd havc cashcd in on thc pubÍic`s trust, hc couÍd havc
aÍoncor, onthc contrary, havc dcvotcditsoÍcÍyto bioÍogy. lnstcad,
102 War and Peace of Microbes
wc scc in thc Annales a continuation on thc samc widc tront ot
discipÍincs and skiÍÍs that hc had initiatcd but which couÍd not bc
conhncd to any dchnition in tcrms ot protcssion. !n thosc articÍcs
thcrc is taÍk otchccsc, bccr, and winc, but aÍso ot cnzymcs and ni-
trogcn,andotthcsourccsotthc5cinc,which containcdbactcria, and
ot phagocytcs and prccipitins, and ot thc wounds ot tubcrcuÍar or
diphthcriapaticnts in thc ChiÍdrcn`s ÎospitaÍ, andotthc mosguitos
on thc Ïontinc Narshcs or otrat hcas in Nadagascar. Likc Ycrsin`s
articÍc, aÍmostnoncotthc articÍcs in Annales stopsshortatthcho-
mogcncous sct ot agcnts. Vhcn it docs do so, thc ¡uxtaposition ot
Jhc ¡ournaÍ is ncithcr mcdicaÍ nor hygicnist nor cvcn bioÍogicaÍ.
Ònc numbcrotthcAnnales mixcs conccrnsthat aÍÍthcothcrprotcs-
sions scparatc and inscrts cvcrywhcrc rcsuÍts acguircd in thc Íabo-
Jhc samc issuc, tor instancc in I8º5, compriscs articÍcs on thc
disintcction ot tcccs, on diphthcria, onpoíson, onthc cntry otintcs-
tinaÍ microbcs into thc gcncraÍ circuÍation, onthc dosagc otaÍcohoÍ,
on thc modcs otrcsistancc otthc Íowcr vcrtcbratcs to artihciaÍ mi-
crobic invasions, on thc migration ot caÍcium phosphatc in pÍants,
and on thc practiccs ot microbic coÍorings, but aÍso a homagc to
Ïastcur, statistics trom thc NunicipaÍ Antirabics !nstitutc ot Jurin,
and an articÍc on contagion through books.
A ¡ournaÍ ot hygicnc, cvcn attcr I880,wouÍd bc conhncd to ur-
banism, or sanitation, or thc poor Íaws. A ¡ournaÍ ot cntomoÍogy
naÍotimmunoÍogy wouÍd spcak onÍy otthc bodyanditsrcactions,
without conccrning itscÍt with microbcs. A mcdicaÍ ¡ournaÍ wouÍd
carctuÍÍy dcscribc thc symptoms orrcmcdics otadiscasc. An admin-
thc rcmovaÍ otrctusc orthc burying ot corpscs. Jhc Annales spcaks
ot aÍÍ thcsc things, passing through cvcry protcssion, and cach timc
addingcnough Íaboratory rcsuÍtsto aÍÍowaÍÍthcprotcssionsto con-
tinucinthcir tasks. Vcakcrthan cachprotcssion,thcÏastcurianwas
to bccomcstrongcrthan anyotthcm. !twasncithcrÍack otintcÍÍcct
it was onÍy thc agcnt or typc ot agcnt that thcy priviÍcgcd and thc
torm ot nctwork aÍong which thcy madc that agcntrun.
!n ordcr to undcrstand thc 'scicntihc" contcntotthc Annales, wc
You Will Be Pastcurs of Microbes 103
must undcrstand thc originaÍity, which ! do nothcsitatcto caÍÍ ' po-
numcrous, no morc briÍÍiant, no morc rigorous, and no morc cou-
ragcous than thc othcrs, but thcy toÍÍowcd a dittcrcntagcnt,thc cuÍ-
tivatcd-microbc-whosc-viruÍcncc-thcy-varicd. Vith such an agcnt, mcy
¦and it) couÍd ignorc thc catcgorics onwhich ninctccnth-ccntury so-
cicty hadbccnbuiÍt.JhchygicnistswcrcintcrcstcdprctcrabÍyin ex
ternal agcnts on a macroscopicscaÍc. citics, cÍimatc, soiÍ, air, and aÍÍ
social agcnts, suchaspovcrty,ovcrcrowding,andthcÍaws govcrning
commcrcc. Jhc doctors wcrc intcrcstcd in internal and abovc aÍÍ in
dividual practiccs, such as constitutions, tcrrains,humors, andwounds.
ßctwccnthc cxtcrnaÍ andthc intcrnaÍ, thc crowd andthc individuaÍ,
thcrcwas ÍittÍc contact. Jhc bioÍogist orphysioÍogist was conccrncd
with intcrnaÍ agcnts that wcrc somctimcs microscopic, somctimcs
tunctionaÍ,whichhadno ncccssaryrcÍationwithphysicians, stiÍÍÍcss
withhygicnists. Jhcy spokc otorgans, otthcgÍycogcnic tunction ot
dircctÍyto dowiththc doctor-paticnt rcÍationship orthc sanitization
trom thc prcoccupations otonc otthcsc thrcc grcat groups to thosc
ot othcrs. Òt coursc, thc macroscopic or cxtcrnaÍ agcnts did not
intcrcst him as much as thcy intcrcstcd thc hygicnist, but hc couÍd
usc thcm to undcrstand thc movcmcnt ot a microbc in thc human
to him thanthcy wcrc to a physician, buthc couÍd uscsymptoms to
undcrstand thc paticnt's body as a particuÍar cuÍturc mcdium. Jhc
intcrnaÍ machincry otthc body was o
Ícss intcrcst to him than to a
physioÍogist, but hc was abÍc to usc it to undcrstand thc dazzÍing
progrcss otthc microbc in its cconomy.
ßymanipuÍatinghis agcnt,thc Pastcurianwas aÍwayssÍightÍy dis-
pÍaccd comparcd to his coÍÍcagucs, whosc discipÍinc hc rctransÍatcd
whcn thc physician was insidc with his paticnt, thcrc thc Pastcurian
was suddcnÍy insidc, bcnt ovcr his microscopc, whiÍc thc hygicnist
was contronting thc probÍcms otbad housing, and hc was suddcnÍy
at thc hospitaÍ bcd trcating diphthcric chiÍdrcn whiÍc thc bioÍogist
wasisoÍatcdinhisÍaboratorycountingorcÍassitying baciÍÍi.Vc saw
ot microbcs into account. ßut in thcsc Íast ycars otthc ccntury thc
tramcwork ot socicty was rcdchncd in ordcr to make room tor thc
104 War and Peace of Microbes
microbcs. LÍimination ot thcm trom thc sociaÍ rcÍations that thcy
couÍd casiÍy rcshuttÍc thc cards and incrcasc thc powcr otwhat in
rcaÍity was a vcry modcstworktorcc.
rchaincd hom spcaking ot aÍÍ thc agcnts that ithadÍinkcdtogcthcr
aÍongits continuous nctworks. ltwas conccrncdnotwithpovcrtyin
gcncraÍ but with that obÍigatory point ot passagc which madc thc
ot stagnant watcrs, prcvcntcd mosguitos trom Íaying thcir cggs. lt
was conccrncd not with pathoÍogy in gcncraI but with taÍsc mcm-
brancs takcn trom chiÍdrcn's throats that, oncc cuÍtivatcd, wouÍd
makc a dchnitc diagnosis possibÍc. lt was conccrncd not with an-
bcaringtÍcasto passtromthcrats thatthcyparasitcd tothcbÍankcts
on pcopÍc's bcds. Jhc articÍcs in thc Annales arc to bc rccognizcd
abovcaÍÍ,thcn,bythcir indcpcndcncc tromthcdivisionspracticcdin
socicty. Jhcymakcnodchnitivc dittcrcnccs bctwccnhygicnc,socicty,
microbioÍogy. ßut instcad ot spcaking about cvcrything in a vast
synthcsis, thcy spcak only about thc agcnt that thcy can rctransÍatc
into thc Íanguagc ot thcir attcnuatcd microbc. Jhcy arc thus abÍc,
without dispcrsing thcmscÍvcs, to bring aÍÍ thcir cttorts to thc tcw
points othygicnc, bioÍogy, administration, and pathoÍogy on which
thc Íaboratory aÍÍows thcm to bc strongcst. ßy using thc microbc
whosc viruÍcncc may bc varicd, thcy arc abÍc to pass trom onc dis-
cipÍinc to anothcr and movc in a singÍc movcmcnt trom contagions
to phagocytcs, trom thcsc to chccscs, andonto diastascs and drains.
Jhcscsuddcnchangcs otscaÍccnabÍcdthcmto carryottthis doubÍc
coup: thcywcrc abÍc to rcncwmcdicinc without ever taking disease
as an object of study andtorcncwpoÍitics andhygicnc w'thout ever
taking the poor or social outcast as a unit of analysis.33
about discascs, but thcy arc aÍÍ writtcn inthc particuÍarstyÍcthat is
dchncd hcrc. ÒnÍy tcn otthcm might bc rcgardcd as typicaÍ otmcd-
by doctors invitcd to dcscribc tor thc Annales thc symptoms ot a
discasc that was nccdcd by somc othcr Ïastcurian to advancc his
You Will Be Pastcurs of Microbes 105
Jhc Gradual Drifts of thc Aaas|ss
Dcspitc this hdcÍity on thc part otthc Annales to thc spring ot thc
Ïastcurian drama, articÍcs Íikc thosc otYcrsin, capabÍc ot dcaÍing in
six pagcs with a discasc as compÍctc andtamous asthcpÍaguc, trom
cpidcmioÍogyto vaccinc, arc not common. As ! havc shown, Ïastcur
Íinkstogcthcrcontingcnt cÍcmcnts accordingto aprincipÍc otmovc-
mcnt that is ¡ ustihcd onÍy by succcss. Îis succcsscs and thosc othis
discipÍcsshouÍdnot aÍÍowusto torgctthat,aÍthough!ortuncsmiÍcd
on thc audacious, shc scÍdom gathcrcd togcthcr a tavorabÍc sct ot
circumstanccs. Jhcrc was otcourscthc casc otrabics, butthcrcwas
aÍso tubcrcuÍosis, a vaccinc tor which did notarrivcinthc suttcring
worÍduntiÍ IºZ/.!twc rcadthcAnnales attcntivcÍy,wc scchowrarc
Ïastcur`s bÍitzkricg was. !ndccd, to pastcurizc a discasc was no casy
mattcr. !t had, so to spcak, to bc Íaid aÍong a curvc cach stagc ot
whichhadto bc carricd outin turn: a Íink had to bc madc bctwccn
a discasc and a microbc ¦and somctimcs thc cÍinicaÍ picturc had to
bc shakcn up somcwhat) , attcr that thc microbc had to bc isoÍatcd,
thcnthc microbchadtobccuÍtivatcdina tavorabÍc mcdiumin such
stagc was to hnd a Íaboratory animaÍ abÍc to contract thc discasc,
anothcr dithcuÍty that couÍd scÍdom bc ovcrcomc, it was thcn ncc-
cssary to muÍtípÍy thc movcmcnts trom animaÍ to animaÍ and trom
cuÍturcto cuÍturcinordcrto attcnuatc orincrcascthcvioÍcnccotthc
microbcand thus produccavaccincorascrum,ahcrthatthcvaccinc
or scrum had to bc abÍc to bcproduccd in Íargc guantitics and in a
stabÍc torm, ÍastÍy, thc distribution otthcsc products had to bc cx-
tcndcd byscttingup or supcrvising institutions, ÍcgisÍation, industry,
tasks,itwasnobadthingto appÍythcmtoimportantdiscascs. !twas
to thc rcscarchcrs otthc!nstitutinordcrto strcngthcnthc sccondary
in a singÍc go may bc countcd on thc hngcrs ot two hands. 5uch
articÍcs dcaÍ with ÍittÍc-known animaÍ discascs. Vhat wc hnd ovcr
and ovcr again in thc Annales arc cxampÍcs ot a partiaÍ Ïastcurian
program. Jhcrc may bc a microbc, but no discasc to go with it, a
microbc and a discasc, but no mcdium to cuÍtivatcit, acuÍturc, but
106 War and Peace of Microbes
no animaÍto takcthc discasc, discascdcxpcrimcntaÍanimaÍs, but no
thcirown history and didnot aÍÍowthcmscÍvcs to bctrappcd bythc
stratcgy otthcÏastcurians as casiÍyasthc anthraxbaciÍÍusorpÍaguc
baciÍÍus. 5o innumcrabÍc articÍcs arc rcguircd`to spcakotthcpartiaÍ
stagcs otmcprogram. !urthcrmorc, dctours bccomcÍongcrandÍongcr.
Ònc articÍc spcaks not otthc cuÍturc otthcpÍagucbaciÍÍus but otthc
coÍoringmcthod, anothcr spcaks not ot animaÍs sick withthcpÍaguc
Jo this dittcrcntiaÍ rcsistancc otthc discascs and this cxtcnsion ot
thc dctours that somctimcs ¡ustihcd an cntirc carccr, wc must now
otthcccnturythcrcwasnowawhoÍc crowdotthcm, abroad aswcÍÍ
asin!rancc, workingonthcintcctiousdiscascs. Jhis crowd brought
thc stratcgy ot a sing!c articÍc. Jo toÍÍow onc discasc, it was now
ncccssary to rcad dozcns ot articÍcs. Jhis subdivision and tragmcn-
tation had onc grcat rcsuÍt: thc rcscarchcrs wcrc now abÍc, Íikc thc
microbcs, to bc muÍtipÍicd in thc Íaboratory and makc thcir carccrs
without nccdingto pÍan thcir ctIorts cxpÍicitÍyaccordingto thc Ïas-
thc Íaboratorics was to bccomc much Ícss ckar. A pockct ot tcch-
isoÍation, and corrcÍativcÍy, thc anaÍyst was to havc morc dithcuÍty
cxpÍainingit. !n spcakingotisoÍation, ! amnot gucstioning thcprin-
cipÍcs hom which ! sct out. !soÍation is ¡ust as matcriaÍ and ¡ust as
rcaÍ a stratcgy as thc Ïastcurian movcmcnt and rccruitmcnt. !t is
simpÍycithcr Ícss skiÍÍtuÍ, bccausc thc intcrcst otthcothcragcnts is
Íowcr, ormorcskiÍÍtuÍ, bccauscitno Íongcr nccds thc othcr agcnts.
Vc may toÍÍow thc crcation otthis pockct and thc movcmcnt ot
intcrcsts both¡nthc Revue Scientifque andinthcAnnales ¦scc hg. J,
p. Z6º) . Attcr diphthcria ¦ I8º4) and abovc aÍÍ attcr thc passing ot
thc grcatÍawonhygicnc ¦ Iº0Z),thcÏastcurianrcvoÍutionnoÍongcr
cinc," 'biochcmistry," 'scrothcrapy," 'sociaÍ hygicnc." Jhc grcat
authorsno Íongcrwrotc dircctÍyinthcRevue itthcywantcdtospcak
You Wil Be Pasteurs of Microbes 107
about hygicnc. Jhc short circuit otthc Ïastcurian spring noÍongcr
workcd, at Ícast untiÍ thc Ïastcurian rcappcarcd as thc 5oÍon otthc
Jropics. A hugc pockctthat hrst crushcd thc study otintcctious dis-
cascs and thcn aÍmost compÍctcÍy disappcarcd whcn thc parasiticaÍ
discascswcrcrcachcd. Îowisthispockct,whichsccmsto occupyso
much room, to bc cxpÍaincdr
!t thc rcadcr had admittcd that hrst Ïastcur, thcn his discipÍcs,
Íinkcdtogcthcr intcrcsts that without thcm wouÍd havc gonc in dit-
tcrcnt dircctions, hcwouÍd not bc surpriscd that thc sÍightcst unccr-
taintyasto thcdírcctionotthcmovcmcnt shouÍd immcdiatcÍydivcrt
thcy too couÍd, it thcy sottcncd, aÍÍow thcmscÍvcs to bc intcrprctcd
and uscd. Jhis is what happcncd with Nctchnikov's work in thc
!nstitut. !t is thc story ot thc transÍators transÍatcd and thcrctorc
Jhc microbc, thc agcnt in thc drama ot intcctious discascs, was
action ot thc cviÍ cntity, thcy Íookcd at thc body's rcactionsr Jhc
most tamous otwhich wcrc thc phagocytcs, thc spccihc cncmics ot
microbcortoxingavcriscto couÍdbcbroughtonbyanything: dust,
an cycÍash, a chcmicaÍ product. Jhis third movcmcnt dcprivcd thc
microbc-as ithad bccn dchncd byÏastcur-otanyimportantroÍc.
!mmunoÍogycouÍd stickto bodics bctwccnhcsh and skin, givcitscÍt
antigcns at random, andprovidcwork, soÍcÍywithinthcwaÍÍs otthc
Íaboratory,tordozcns otrcscarchcrstorycars on cnd.Jhcrcwasno
Íongcr any nccd tor microbcs, nor tor storics ot woÍvcs and toxcs
with rabics, nor tor poor Chincsc, nor tor disintcctant controÍ. Jhc
microbcs wcrc bccoming particuÍar cascs ot a gcncraÍ probÍcm: thc
intcgrity otthc organism.
'i ´ `
in that cÍscwhcrc at thc lnstitut thc microbc and its variations in
viruÍcncc wcrc no Íongcr takcn as thc unit ot anaÍysis. DucÍaux`s
program took thc microbc trom bcÍow. Jhc 'microbc" is not a dc-
hnitivc, obvious, naturaÍ agcnt. !t cxistcd tor a timc, in the abs�nce
of anything better, bctorc it inturnwas distortcd. Jhcsc succcssivc
distortions show cÍcarÍy how wrong it is to spcak ot 'discovcrcd
108 War and Peace of Microbes
microbcs." Naking thc microbc act as a unity is, tor DucÍaux, a
tcmporary arrangcmcnt ot conditions.³¹ lt is much morc intcrcsting
torhim to brcak thc microbcinto its componcnts and to makc cach
importanccinthcAnnales andcompÍctcdthc dcstructionotÏastcur`s
microbcthatimmunoÍogy had bcgun.³¹ Jhc Annales dcconstructthc
microbcs whosc-dcgrcc-ot-viruÍcncc-may-bc-varicd-at-wiÍÍ and con-
structwithits dismcmbcrcdcÍcmcnts immunoÍogy, onthconc hand,
andbiochcmistry, onthc othcr.
Jo thcsctwo grcatmovcmcnts,whichdcprivcdthcattcnuatcdmi-
ingoutsidcthc Íaboratory. 1his movcmcnttookpÍaccsoto spcakon
thc spotand wasthcrcsuÍtotthcvcryaccumuÍation otartitacts.
lt wc add up aÍÍ thcsc succcsivc constraints, without ot coursc
torgcttingthc stubborn rcsistancc otthc discascs thcmscÍvcs, wc can
Ïastcurian program was rcspcctcd at thc bcginning, but aÍways par-
tiaÍÍy andovcr aÍimitcdnumbcrotdiscascs. Jhc cÍassicaÍprograms,
bcgunbyÏastcur, dccÍincdand disappcarcd. Jhcprogramsbcgunby
DucÍaux and Nctchnikov grcw, but cvcn thcy dispÍaycd onÍy trag-
oncc again inthc Íinc ot cÍassicaÍ Ïastcurism. ln ßordct`s hands, im-
munoÍogy bccamc a rathcr Íong dctour toward ncw mcthods ot di-
agnosisandtrcatmcnt. ßutitwasLavcran`sprogram,which actuaÍÍy
movcmcnt ot thc Ïastcurians, by which thc cntirc pÍanct was uÍti-
matcÍy to bccomc thc hcÍd ot action otthc Ïastcurlnstitutcs.
lt wc madc a cross-scction ot thc Annales in I8º4 and again in
IºI0,wc wouÍdhnd aÍÍ thc cÍcmcnts otthc Ïastcurianimpctus.ßut
itwc took a cross-scction in Iº00, wc wouÍd havc morc dithcuÍty
hnding that proÍitcration ot hctcrogcncous agcnts rccruitcd by thc
Ïastcurian stratcgists.VcwouÍd bc morcawarcthatwcwcrctcading
¨scicntihc articÍcs indcpcndcnt otsociaÍ conccrns." Nctchnikov had
othcr aÍÍics, othcr aims, than Ïastcur, hc workcd onÍy in thc Íabo-
isoÍatcd himscÍtand his studcnts. Jhc word 'isoÍatc" docs not havc
You Wi Be Ïastcurs of Microbes 109
otisoÍation, wc must givc that word as matcriaÍ a mcaning as thc
tabrication ot an isoÍatc in hbcr gÍass or doubÍc gÍazing.
Vc can scc howpowcrÍcss our anaÍysis wouÍdhavc bccomc itwc
had Íctt to onc sidc thc 'tcchnicaÍ" articÍcs by Ïastcur andothcrsin
thc Annales. Vc wouÍd havc undcrstood nothing about thc socicty
ot a scparatc contcntis duc onÍy to such tcchnigucs otisoÍation as
which Íimits thc numbcrotaÍÍics acguircdbyascicnccto¡ustatcw.
Vc undcrstand aÍso why thc Ïastcurians wcrc aÍways so viruÍcnt
in attributing rcsponsibiÍity. Vith so many aÍÍics, thcy ran a grcat
workcrs, many ot whom did not cvcn wcar whitc coats. Jo crcatc
'scicncc" and'Ïastcurianscicncc" outotthiscrowdotagcnts,noth-
ingin thc sccondary mcchanism was to bc ignorcd. 5pcakingotonc
ot Ïastcur`s prcdcccssors, DucÍaux writcs: 'Davainc did not cvcn
undcrstand his owndiscovcrics" ¦ I8/º, p. 6Zº) . Vhathcdid, thcrc-
torc, hc did not rcaÍÍy do. Îowcvcr, thcrc wcrc prcdcccssors who
sccmcd indisputabÍc bccausc thcy had bccn born a ccntury bctorc,
such as ¦cnncr, invcntor otthc vaccinc. Lvcn thcsc, howcvcr, might
bcrcsituatcdin timc. VithoutÏastcur, thc invcntor otagcncraÍÍaw
ot which¦cnncr`s vaccinc is mcrcÍy a particuÍar casc, ¦cnncr wouÍd
not cvcn bc a prccursor, says a discipÍc. !rom thc point otvicw ot
thc sccondary mcchanism, Ïastcur is before ¦cnncr, tor hc providcs
thctoundationtorhimasmuch astorthc GcrmanKoch, whoscroÍc
is cnormous in aÍÍ thc non-!rcnch historics ot bactcrioÍogy. lt was
harshÍy hc rcminds Koch otthc ordcr otprimogcniturc-'you had
not bccn born to scicncc whcn l was cuÍtivating microbcs"-and to
�nd thc discussion, hc makcs usc otthc rcsuÍt ot anothcr argumcnt
ovcrprioritywon against Listcr, withListcr`sconscnt: 'JhcscskiÍÍtuÍ
in a rcading ot my mcmorandum onputrctaction" ¦ I88J,p. /4).
act on pcopÍc. Vhcn an Amcrican wrotc a history ot rcccnt dcvcÍ-
sct up by Ïastcur, thc Revue Scientifque pubÍishcd thc articÍc but
dcmoÍishcdit, rcstoringthc chronoÍogy andtrucrcsponsibiÍitics. Ki-
chctscttÍcsthc mattcrwith this summum otabsoÍutc idcaÍism: 'N.
ÏastcurhasrcaÍÍybccnthcsouÍotaÍÍthisscicncc,principium et fons,
110 War and Peace of Microbes
anditisrcaÍÍynotcnoughto saythatbctorc KochnonamccouÍdbc
sct against his. !tmustbcsaid and rcpcatcdthatbctorc and attcr N.
Koch, no onc can bc comparcd with Ïastcur" ¦ I88º, p. JJ0). ßy a
scrics otsimiÍarbattÍcs againstthc Gcrmans, Amcricans, andßritish
surgcons, but aÍso thc Lyonnais, bioÍogists, physicians, tcchnicians,
and othcr dcar coÍÍcagucs, it was possibÍc in thc cnd to achicvc an
isoÍatcd Ïastcurian scicncc that bccamc thc causc otsociaÍ transtor-
mations. Jhismystcriouscthcacy attributcdto thc 'scicnccs" andto
Ïastcur's gcnius is, Íikc omcr mystcrics, an intcrcsting construct, whosc
anaÍysis shouÍdprcscntno dithcuÍty, at Ícastin principÍc.
Times Are Hard
Medicine at Last
5o tar l havc shown thc immcnsc torccs that madc up Ïastcurism,
and thc cvoÍution ot Ïastcurism toward thc cnd ot capturing thcsc
to itscÍt. Ny dcmonstrationhashadthcinconvcnicnccotconsidcring
onÍy succcsscs. Îygicnists and Ïastcurians wcrc moving roughÍy in
thc samc dircction. JoÍstoy, my inimitabÍc modcÍ, had thc skiÍÍ to
hypothcscs conccrningthc makc-up otthc torccs. 5imiÍarÍy,inordcr
aÍÍyto ¡udgcthc truittuÍncssotmy anaÍysis,wcwouÍdhavcto hnd
controÍ groups whosc bchavior, during thc samc pcriod and on thc
samcgucstions,was totaÍÍy dittcrcnt. ÒnÍythcn wouÍdwcscccÍcarÍy
that thc 'cvidcncc ot rcason," thc 'torcc ot Íogic," thc 'thrust ot
thc 'ripcncss ottimc," arc mcrcÍy victor`s words. Jhcy arc crics ut-
with thc crics ot 'rout" or 'victory" at ßorodino.
Jhc hrst way ot muÍtipÍying controÍ groups wouÍd bc to tcÍÍ thc
1 1 1
112 War and Peace of Microbes
agcnts, and to Íook a ÍittÍc at thc discascs thcmscÍvcs. !cw discascs
obcythc hnc ordcring ot irrcsistibÍc progrcss that rcndcrs thcm dc-
hnitivcÍy a thing ot thc 'past." Jhc symboÍ otthis 'rcsistancc" on
thc partotdiscascs,whosc rhythm docs not obcythatotthcgroups
hygicnc. Vithout thc bactcrioÍogists, thc gcncraÍs wouÍd ncvcr havc
bccnabÍcto hoÍdonto miÍÍions otmcn tor tourycarsinmuddy, rat-
gunshadcarricdthcm ott. Jhiswarwasthc hrstinwhichonc couÍd
donc thc ¡ob bcttcr. Attcr this triumph otbactcrioÍogy, thc 5panish
bcing abÍc cvcnto idcntity thc agcnt.
by thcwayvariousdiscascswcrc discusscdinthc Revue Scientifque.
Lct us takc, tor cxampÍc, thc ycar I8ºJ, Armaingaud discusscs tu-
is, thc discasc hasbccnÍinkcdwith Koch's baciÍÍus, buthc makcs no
attcmptto pastcurizc it. Îisaimisto incrcascthcnumbcrotLcagucs
tor thc Advanccmcnt ot 5anitoriums ¦Armaingaud, I8ºJ, pp. JJ-
4Z) . ^ownothingisÍcssÏastcurianthan a sanitorium.Îcrc, thcn, is
a discasc that CaÍmcttc was to takc dccadcs to catch up with and
tcvcr. Yct in thc samc ycar thcrc is a discussion ottctanus in tcrms
ot a discasc so pastcurizcd that a scrum has bccn tound tor it. ßut
whcnon ApriÍJ0 otthat samc ycar thcrc is arctcrcncc to typhus, it
is to say that thc discasc dchcs anaÍysis. A convinccd Ïastcurian,
pcrhaps Îcricourt, cvcn contcsscs his Ícaning toward hcrcsy: 'Vc
ot drought, and ot humidity, ctc. Vc wiÍÍ aÍmost havc to go back,
conccrning thc inhucncc otthc stars" ¦Anon. : I8ºJ,p. 5Jº).
Îcrc is prootthat timc docs not pass. !t hastobc madc topass,
discasc attcr discasc,sociaÍ group attcr sociaÍgroup, without which
it ¡ust movcs ottin thc wrong dircction.
Whcn wc spcak ot smaÍÍpox, which has bccn pastcurizcd tor a
hundrcd ycars, it is to saÍutc thc victory in LngÍand ot thc Ícagucs
against choÍcra: 'Jhc timc is past whcn wc couÍd hopc thatrcvac-
cination wouÍd bccomc so common in LngÍand that it nccd not bc
Medicine at Last 1 13
madcobÍigatory. ^otonÍy hasthc movcmcnttorrcvaccinationbccn
stoppcd, but vaccination itscÍt is carricd out Ícss and Ícss and on a
I8ºJ,p. 6ºº). ¹
dircction and to turn smaÍÍpox into onc otthosc grcat antcdiÍuvian
spccicswassotragiÍcthattimcturncd back. Vcgo tromthcabscncc
otsmaÍÍpox to thc abscncc otvaccination.²!ortunatcÍy, I46 pcopÍc
at thcir strongcst, which strcngthcncd thc wcakcncd position otthc
hygicnists in thc nick ot timc.
JubcrcuÍosis and smaÍÍpoxhavcthcir ownhistorics. 5o, too, docs
choÍcra. !n that samcycar, I8ºJ,itwas mcntioncd onÍy to dcscr¡bc,
inthcpurcsthygicnisttradition, stcpstakcn to obscrvcthcpiÍgrims
going to Nccca. Yct in that samc ycar thc rcsuÍts ottrcatmcnts tor
diphthcria wcrc pubÍishcd. Jhc trcatmcnts wcrc a compÍctc succcss.
inthcprogramthatÏastcurindccd couÍdinno wayhavcanticipatcd.
According to thc discasc undcr considcration in thc Revue, timc
or not, progrcss movcd torward orbackward. Jhcrcwashcrc avar-
iationinintcrcst andconvictionthatis asintcrcstingtor socioÍogists
!mitating thcir mcthod, ! shaÍÍ scÍcct a scrics otcontroÍ groups and
in thc Íast rcsort, aÍÍ!hc othcrs dcsccnd.
The Army Doctors
JobctaithtuÍtomyinitiaÍprincipÍcs, !shouÍdcxpÍainwith the same
arguments what stoppcd thc doctors and what madc thc hygícnists
rushin. !tispointÍcssto saythatthchygicnists actcdandthcdoctors
rcsistcd, thatthchygicnistswcrcmaturcandthcothcrsnot, ortousc
anothcr mctaphorthatscrvcs as a rctugc torignorancc, thatthchy-
gicnists wcrc 'opcn" and thc othcrs 'obscurantist." Vithout com-
pctingwith thc work ot|acgucsLconard ¦ Iº6/, Iº/º, Iº8I, Iº86),
!wouÍd Íikctoshowthrough a study otthc Concours Meical how
1 14 War and Peace of Microbes
which attributcs thc powcr to rcvoÍutionizc socicty as a whoÍc to
Ïastcur`s gcnius aÍonc, wc must, as ! havc aÍrcady shown, attributc
is why ! had to spcak so much about thc hygicnists bctorc ! couÍd
turnto thc contcnt otthc Ïastcurians' programs. ßut convcrscÍy wc
cannot cxpÍain why a discovcry docs not sprcad simpÍy by thc rc-
sistancc ot various groups. Vc must undcrstand why thcy did not
scizc upon a particuÍar discovcry. Jhosc who 'acccptcd" andthosc
who 'rc¡cctcd" it arc both agcnts ot that socicty, and in ordcr to
but scck to undcrstand thc principÍc otthcir activity trom within.
!n ordcr to dcmonstratcthispoint, wchavconc grcat advantagc.
Vc havc at our disposaÍ a controÍ group within thc controÍ group.
!ndccd, army doctors scizcd upon Ïastcurism with thc samc avidity
as hygicnists. !rom I88IAÍixrcaÍizcsthctormidabÍcÍcvcrthatgavc
his protcssion thc Ïastcurian modcÍ: 'ÏubÍicopinionisbcginningto
bc movcd by progrcss in thc scicnccs otÍitc." !tit was moving, wc
ownattairs aÍittÍc. Vhy was AÍix so intcrcstcdr Îc cxpÍains: '!t is
impossibÍc to dcny that, in thc vcry ncar tuturc, mcdicaÍ gucstions
wiÍÍ aÍÍ bc rcsoÍvcd by appÍications dcriving trom thc discovcrics ot
hygicnc, pharmaccuticaÍ thcrapy in civiÍian pubÍic mcdicinc wiÍÍ taÍÍ
to avcry sccondary rank, as has aÍrcady happcncd in miÍitary mcd-
icinc" ¦ I88I, p. /6I) .
!n giving Ïastcurizcdhygicnc apush, ourAÍix raiscs thc status ot
his ownmcdicinc abovcthatothis civiÍíancoÍÍcagucs. !urthcrmorc,
miÍitarymcdicinc had aÍrcady bccnpastcurizcd institutionaÍÍy. Attcr
aÍÍ, havc not barracks aÍways bccn anidcaÍÍaboratorywhcrc Ícgions
othcaÍthyyoungmcnarcsub¡cctcdto aunitormrcgimcrJhcrc isno
'doctor/paticnt rcÍationship" with thc rccruits, who arc marchcd
through thcir mcdicaÍs and inocuÍatcd in batchcs. Jhis somcwhat
otthctuturcotmcdicinc itscÍt. !sitsurprisingthatsomconcwho has
cvcrythingto gaintromsuchaninnovation shouÍdscizcuponitwith
avicw to cxtcnding its cttcctsr
to bcÍicvc that thcy wcrc Íooking tor 'Ícgitimacy."Jhis vaguc word
dcrivingtrom socioÍogy aÍmost aÍways hidcs thc rcaÍ contcnt ot ac-
tions. Jhcir csscntiaÍ probÍcm was that mcn dicd in thcbarracks in
Medicine at Last 1 15
pcacctimc. !twc do not¡uguÍatc cpidcmics, somconc cÍscwritcs, thc
whcncc not aÍÍ rcturn" ¦Anon.: I88I, pp. /Z-/8) .
Jhcrc was somcthing morc scrious stiÍÍ. !n wartimc, as is wcÍÍ
known, thcrc arc morc dcaths trom microbcs than trom thc cncmy.
Jhc conIÍict bctwccn '^apoÍcon" and 'Kutuzov" is dupÍicatcd, ac-
cording to Cartwright, by a conhict bctwccn 'GcncraÍ ^apoÍcon"
and 'GcncraÍ Jyphus". 'Jhc !rcnch marchcd on Noscow without
cncountcring opposition, but typhus marchcd with thcm. Jhat army
ot I00,000mcn Íost I0,000 soÍdicrs trom discasc, inthcwcck /-I4
5cptcmbcr aÍonc" ¦ Iº/Z,p. º/). Lvcry associationistranstormcdby
this battÍc on scvcraÍ tronts: '!car ot thc Kussians and ot thc vcn-
Jhc IÍcas trom thchovcÍsmovcd cvcrywhcrc, sticking to thc scams
otcÍothcs, hair, and broughtwiththcmthctyphusmicroorganisms"
¦p. ºZ) .
!n tourmonths 50,Z/0wcrc dcad otycÍÍow tcvcr. !n I80ºonÍy J00
otthcm rcmaincd, and thcy wcrc rcpatriatcdto!rancc. Lcmurc, an
army doctor, dcscribcs in I8º6 thc Nadagascar cxpcdition: 'Jhc
!ova govcrnmcnt was counting on thc tcvcr to prcvcnt our soÍdicrs
morc than on buÍÍcts and shcÍÍs madc in LngÍand" ¦ I8ºb, p. 4/).
Vithout hring a singÍc shot, thc Îovas wcrc contcnt to torcc thc
!rcnchto bivouacinthcpÍain: 'Jwo months wcrccnoughto rcducc
cxisting onÍy in namc-aÍÍ sick and 5,000 dcad, that`s thc baÍancc
shcct ¦out ot Z4,000 mcn). Vhich provcs that thc cxpcdition was
abovc aÍÍ a busincss otsanitation" ¦p. 50) .
tormcd an aÍÍiancc with miasma to win a war against thosc armcd
withriIÍcs and canon. !n ordcr to rcvcrsc oncc morc this baÍancc ot
torccs, which had aÍrcady bccn rcvcrscdoncc,whathadto bcdoncr
Jhcy had to usc modcrn bactcrioÍogy. ßy crushing thc microbcs ot
parasitcsin thc Íaboratory, thcycÍiminatcdthc powcr otthc Îovas`
aÍÍics and thcrctorc gavc thc canon and rihcs backthcir supcriority,
sincc thosc who uscd thcm wouÍd no Íongcr dic. Vhcn you arc an
army doctor, you can hardÍy hcsitatc.
!n war thcrc had aÍways bccn two cncmics, thc microscopic and
1 16 War and Peace of Microbes
thcmacroscopic. !tthc doctorsuccccdcdin¡uguÍatingthcsccond, tar
morc ÍcthaÍ onc, hc gaincd cnormousÍy in importancc and bccamc
aÍmostthc cguaÍotthoscwho tought againstgcncraÍs and canon. !n
a country Íikc thc !rancc otthat timc, inspircd by idcas ot rcvcngc,
obscsscd with its taÍÍing birthratc, it soon bccamc unthinkabÍc that
whoÍc battaÍions shouÍd bc Íost to microbcs against which Ïastcur,
convcrtcd to Ïastcurism without putting up thc sÍightcst rcsistancc.
Jhis dcvcÍopmcnt is not to bc attributcd cntircÍy to thc Ïastcurians,
massivcÍy inthcm. Jhc army doctors inturn owcd thcir crcditto aÍÍ
thosc who wantcd a strong army and ot whom thc doctors casiÍy
bccamc thc spokcsmcn.
The Doctors Find Pasteur Disputable
tics. Lvcn morc than skcptics, thcywouÍd bc caÍÍcd 'grumbÍcrs," it
that catcgory wcrc acccptcd in socioÍogy. Jhosc who wcrc dircctÍy
conccrncd with discascs and paticnts saw nothing cxtraordinary in
Ïastcurism, orcvcnrcÍcvant, at Ícastbctorc I8º4.VhcnthcyatÍast
in thcir own practiccs but as a way ot continuing in strcngthcncd
ways what they had always done. !inaÍÍy,whcnthcyhadtuÍÍyassim-
iÍatcdthcintcrcst otÏastcurismattcrthcpassingotthcÍawot Iº0Z
onthc organization otpubÍic hygicnc, thc ncw mcdicinc sccmcd to
owc morc to thc oÍd than to thc Ïastcurian stratcgy, which hadin
thc mcantimc shittcd toward tropicaÍ mcdicinc.³
Vhatthc othcr protagonists said about thc hygicnists, surgcons,
or armydoctors dchncdinabscntiathc rcasonswhyprivatc doctors
did not budgc an inch to makc usc ot Ïastcurism. ln simpÍcr tcrms,
group wouÍd do so wiÍÍingÍyr Jhc Ïastcurian stratcgy amountcd to
attacking discasc by a transvcrsaÍ movcmcnt which ncvcr took thc
who kncw nothing but thc sick individuaÍr Vhat couÍd hc makc ot
this vision, which was both too pubÍic and too bioÍogicaÍ, without
Medicine at Last 117
cvcr tocusing on thc paticntr Vhat couÍd hc makc ota tcw grcat
work andwhich wcrc otsuch a scopc thatthcy Íay guitc outsidcthc
capacityotthcÍocaÍphysicianrVhatcouÍdhcdowithaÍÍ thosc pigs,
chickcns, dogs, horscs, buÍÍs, broods, that had so ÍittÍc to do with
mcdicinc, with ahuman taccr Vhat couÍdcvcn bc donc vith acurc,
spcctacuÍar as itccrtainÍy was, Íikc that otrabics which conccrncd a
vcryrarc discasc andwhich, turthcrmorc, rcguircdthat apaticntgo
to Ïaris to bccurcd by aproductthatwas absoÍutcÍy unavaiÍabÍcto
ordinary physiciansr !n short, what couÍd bc donc with aÍÍ thosc
doctrincs and mcthodsthatwcrc thc ncgationotmcdicaÍworkrJhc
answcr is cÍcar: nothing, ornot much. And sinccthcrcwas nothing
physicians couÍddowith thoscdoctrincs,thcy cxprcsscdapoÍitcbut
uncnthusiastic intcrcst, tingcd cvcn with a ccrtainironic condcsccn-
sion. Jhis provcs nothing about thc obscurantism otthc physicians,
aÍÍics, unÍikc thc othcr aÍÍics, thc rightway.
Jhc Concours Medical, acorporatc¡ournaÍ itcvcrthcrcwas onc,
spcaks otÏastcur`s workwith adistancc andprudcnccthatcontrasts
starkÍy with thc avidity ot thc hygicnists, insisting that Ïastcur bc
absoÍutcÍy right and cxtcnd thc impÍcmcntation othiswork at oncc.
Jhc 'concÍusivc" charactcr otÏastcur`s cxpcrimcnts can indccd not
whattorthchygcnistswas indisputabÍc. Òtcourscthcdoctorsshowcd
'good wiÍÌ` , thcy supportcd thc subscription to thc !nstitut Ïastcur
andwcrc proud othim: 'Vctcc!dccp ¡oy at thcidca othghtingthc
goodhghtasobscurcbutwiÍÍingsoÍdicrs" ¦Anon. : I888, p.óJ0). ßut
thcy wcrc cautious: 'ÒtaÍÍ thatsÍowÍy accumuÍatingwork, a body
catch a gÍimpsc otthcway ahcadandaÍrcadyagrcatmanytactsarc
and not scc bactcria cvcrywhcrc, attcr prcviousÍy sccing thcm no-
not so much by its dctaiÍcd appÍications as by thc corrcct idcas ot
Íikcwisc" ¦GosscÍin: I8/º, p. Ióº) .
Vcrcthcyobscurantists r Didthcyrcsistr^o,thcytookgrcatcarc
to scparatc what was cxaggcratcd trom what was usctuÍ trom thcir
own protcssionaÍ point ot vicw. At thc timc whcn Ïastcur was at�
tcmpting his takcovcr otmcdicinc and thc hygicnists wcrc cÍaiming
118 War and Peace of Microbes
to havc congucrcd thc statc bccausc otthc addcd powcr ottcrcd by
thcÏastcurians,thcphysicianswaitcdto scchowthcywouÍdgct out
otavcry dithcuÍt situation inwhich thcy hadcvcrythingto Íosc and
prctcrrcd to maintain thc statc ot attairs that thcy had sct up with
such dithcuÍty: 'Vc bcÍicvc that, dcspitc thc somcwhat impassioncd
attacks oINonsicur Ïastcur, cÍinicaÍ mcdicinc is not guitc dcad"
¦Kcynaud: I88I,p. I0Z) . JhcydctcndcdthcmscÍvcs,whichwasguitc
normaÍ.Jhcycvcn tooka ccrtaindcÍightingiving ÏastcurÍcssons in
scicntihcmcthod: 'N. Ïastcurcndcdhiscommunication¦onchoÍcra
among chickcns) by dcducing trom thosc various tacts appÍications
to thcgcncraÍ historyotcontagiousdiscascs.VcshaÍÍnottoÍÍowthc
Ícarncd chcmist in his gcncraÍizations: bctorc dcducingsuch concÍu-
sions trom thosc tacts, whicharcccrtainÍyvcryintcrcsting, hc shouÍd
rcpcatand vary thc cxpcrimcnts" ¦Anon. : I880, p. I//).Likc Koch
and Íikc Ïctcr, thc physicians ot thc Concours Medical wcrc otthc
opinion that ÏastcurrcaÍÍy was cxaggcrating. Îow canwc dcnythat
thcy wcrc rightr
How Were They To Defend the Doctor-Patient Relationship?
Jhchygicnistshad a grcat sociaÍ movcmcnttotransÍatcand a grcat
pro¡cct ot transtorming thc citics that Ícd thcm to aÍÍ thc sourccs ot
powcr-¡ust Íikc thc Ïastcurians scnt by 5cicncc on thc congucst ot
microbcs, ¡ust Íikc thc surgcons who, by toÍÍowing thc antimicrobc,
ot armics by adopting Ïastcurism. Jhc physicians, howcvcr, wcrc
contÍict bctwccn wcaÍth and hcaÍth, which drovc on aÍÍ thc othcr
agcnts, paraÍyzcdthc physicians ¹
Jhcyhad othcr contÍicts to cngagc in. Jhc Concours Medical rc-
vcaÍsin an aÍmostcaricaturaÍway aproIcssionaÍbodystruggÍingtor
itscxistcncc, hghting againstthcworÍd.JhcmcdicaÍ corps,according
tothc unionizcd physiciansotthc Concours, was at its Íowcstpoint.
lt was iÍÍ-rcgardcd, iÍÍ-paid, ovcrworkcd, and abovc aÍÍ constantÍy
passcd, thc ¡ournaÍ shows ourmiÍitants hghtingagainstpharmacists
who prcscribcd drugs, against thc sistcrs otcharitywho, out ot rc-
Íigious zcaÍ, took thc brcad trom thc mouths otyoung physicians,
Medicine at Last 119
against hcaÍth othciaÍs` whom thc physicians had not yct succccdcd,
bctorc I8ºJ at Ícast, in riddingthcmscÍvcs ot, againstthc 'pharma-
ccuticaÍ spcciaÍitics" soÍd in madc-up torm by industry, against thc
hcaÍth socictics which
crsistcd in tcaching thc pubÍic how to bind
up wounds" ¦Gassot: Iº00, p. º/) , against thc bonc-brcakcrs, spir-
ituaÍists, and charÍatans who compctcd with physicians cvcn in cd-
ucatcd houschoÍds. ^o, thc Íitc ot a physician was an intcrnaÍ onc,
and carving out ot Ircnch socicty a spacc whcrc it was possibÍc to
trcat pcopÍc tor moncy rcguircd a constant struggÍc. Jhc conhict
bctwccn hcaÍth and wcaÍth bccamc tor cach physician a mattcr ot
howto carn a ÍivingwhiÍctrcatingpcopÍc.
Jhc Concours aÍso tought against thc armydoctors who had thc
attrontcry to takc on privatc paticnts, against paticnts who rctuscd
to pay, against¡udgcs who aÍways gavc ¡udgmcnt against thc physi-
cians in tavor otcithcr thcir dcbtors or thosc who accuscdthcm ot
imagc, thcrcby attracting studcnts, or an untavorabÍc onc, thcrcby
robbingthcmotpaticnts, againstthcrich and tashionabÍcphysicians
otÏaris who dcspiscd thcir poorcr, unknown brcthrcn, and against
thc othcr protcssionaÍ bodics, which rctuscd to coopcratc. !n short,
physicians otthc Concours Meical hadnothing butcncmics, notto
turthcrdcprivingthcmotpaticnts¦Anon. : Iº00,p. /º) andthatyoung
coÍÍcagucs, causinganothcr scandaÍ, wcrc crowdinginto thc tacuÍtics
and incrcasing compctition.
Again, thcphysicians' intcrcsts wcrc no narrowcr andthcir mcn-
army doctors,orÏastcurians. Jhcywcrchghtingto savcaprotcssion
and to rcsist uphcavaÍs that wcrc outsidcthcircontroÍ. !ndccd, thcy
wcrc caught up in aparadoxthatitwas dithcuÍttorthcmto cscapc.
Jhc Íaisscz tairc otunbridÍcd ÍibcraÍism wouÍd, inthcirvicw, aÍÍow
aid socictics couÍd casiÍy guarantcc a young physician a hxcd saÍary
in cxchangc tor a monopoÍy. !n ordcr to prcvcnt such atakcovcr by
compctition bctwccn thcm. Ior cxampIc, unions torccd thc mutuaÍ
aid socictics to rccognizc thc paticnt`s 'right" to choosc 'trccÍy" his
thcy did not ¡oin thc union and 'kcpt thcir trccdom," whcrcupon
120 War and Peace of Microbes
mcdicinc as a corporatc body wouÍd disappcar, ovcrcrowding otthc
protcssion wouÍd sprcad, and govcmmcnt-cmpÍoycd physicians wouÍd
havcamonopoÍyovcr cach catcgory otpaticnts-schooÍ,tubcrcuÍar,
hospitaÍizcd, vaccinatcd, orthcy ¡oincdthc unionandthcrcbycttcc-
tivcÍy prcvcntcdthc 'trcc"-thatis,non unionizcd-physicians trom
corporation. Again, this situation is instriking contrastwiththat ot
thc hygicnists, whosc powcr gaincd hom conccntration and hom
cvcrythingto Íosc trom such a mcrgcr.
Vc can casiÍy undcrstand that with such probÍcms thc physician
couÍd havc nothing morc than a poÍitc but distant intcrcst in thc
what was taking pÍacc in thc !nstitut Ïastcur to advanccthcir own
intcrcsts, or thcy couÍd not. !t thcy couÍd, any argumcnt, however
revolutionary it might be, wouÍdbcundcrstood, scizcd upon, trans-
ßutitthcycouÍdnot, no argumcnt, however useful and important it
might be in thc cycs otothcrs, couÍd bc undc
stood or appÍicdcvcn
attcr a ccntury. Jhc timc otinnovation is not Íikc agcncraÍgrid on
which onc couIdpoint out thc 'rcsistanccs" or 'maturity" otsociaÍ
groups trom ycar to ycar. Jhc timc ot innovation is thc ultimate
consequence otthc intcrcsts otsociaÍ groups in onc anothcr and in
thcir movcmcnt. !nnovation takcs timc it thosc intcrcsts do not co-
vcry guickÍy whcn thc torccs arc puÍÍinginthc samc dircction, as in
thc casc othygicnc, and sÍowÍy or not at aÍÍwhcnthc torccs opposc
onc anothcr. Jhc physicians providcd a pcrtcct iÍIustration ot this
csscntiaÍ ncgotiation ottimc. As tar as scicncc was conccrncd, thcy
rcmaincd asthcywcrc-that is, timc was suspcndcdtor thcm-untiÍ
thc dispÍaccmcnt ot thc Ïastcurian programs hnaÍÍy aÍigncd an in-
novationwith thc intcrcsts otthc physicians struggÍingtorthcir sur-
vivaÍ, as inthc carÍicr casc otthc hygicnists.
JhcsourccotthcConcours Medical throwsadmirabÍcÍightonthis
rcvcrsaÍ. ßutwc must go backto thc Revue Scientifque itwc arcto
grasp how thc other protcssions and sociaÍ movcmcnts ot thc timc
saw thc tuturc roÍc ot thc physicians. AÍthough an actor is aÍways
activc, as thc namc indicatcs, somc actors arc dchncd by othcrs as
bcing passivc. Jhis was thc casc with thc physicians untiÍ I8º4. AÍÍ
thcgroupscxprcssingthcmscÍvcs in thc Revue dchncd thcphysicians
Medicine at Last 121
asa passivc group rcguiring radicaÍ rcshaping, and thcy Íaid out in
dctaiÍ what shouÍd bc donc with thatprotcssion.
One Agent Turns the Other into a Patient
Òtcoursc, cvcrybody showcd vcrbaÍ rcspcct torthc physicians. Ïas-
tcur aÍways said, 'ltl hadthchonorto bc aphysician," l wouÍddo
this orthat. YctthroughoutthcpagcsotthcRevue Scientifque thcrc
is nothing but contcmpt tor that skiÍÍ 'bcÍonging to anothcr agc``
contcmpt dcrivcs trom thc tact that thc physician was rcgardcd as a
chiÍdhghting in thc dark against tiny bcings thatwcrc sccrctÍy
nipuÍatinghim. Vhocvcr is manipuÍatcd by a microbc unknownto
himscÍtmay inturn bc manipuÍatcd withouttoo many scrupÍcs with
a vicw to putting him on thc right path. Jhc Revue aÍmost ncvcr
spokc ot thc physicians as an activc group-indccd thc physicians
thcmscÍvcs, unÍikcthc surgcons, ncvcrspokcot'us"-butaÍways ap
apassivcgroup. DozcnsotarticÍcs sctoutto showmcdicincthcway
that it must toÍÍow, but none otthc opcrations proposcd tor it was
within thc grasp ot thc smaÍÍ privatc physician. Ïractitioncrs wcrc
shownthcwaythatthcirart must toÍÍowinordcrto bctranstormcd,
but that art was a scicncc known onÍy to Íaboratory scicntists. Ònc
anonymous commcntatorwritcs naivcÍy: 'ln thc past, sincc wc did
not know thc causc ot discascs, thcrc wcrc onÍy paticnts and thc
intcrcsts otpaticnts invoÍvcd.^owthatwcknowmccxtcrnaÍcauscs
as a whoÍc, cosmic and sociaÍ, thc authority and inIÍucncc ot thc
physician havc naturaÍÍy bcnchtcd trom such an cnÍargcmcnt ot his
hcÍd otaction ¦ 188º, p. 6J0). Jhis 'naturaÍÍy" isvaÍid onÍy tor thc
hygicnist, sinccthcphysiciancouÍd cxtcnd his hcÍd otaction onÍy by
compÍctcÍy dcnying what hc had donc hithcrto. Jhc hygicnist with
thchybridnotion otcontagioncnvironmcntcouÍdgo on doingwhat
hc had bccn doing whiÍc bccoming pastcurizcd. Lvcn thc surgcon
couÍd carry on with surgcry whiÍc acccpting thc prcmiscs and hrst
truitsotpastcurism. ßutitthcphysicianwcrcto bccomcpastcuri�cd,
hc wouÍd havc to abandon his paticnt. lt so, what wouÍd hc dor lt
wouÍd thcn bc pointÍcss taÍking to a physician ot· his 'wcÍÍ-undcr-
stood" intcrcst or his 'Íong-tcrm" intcrcsts. ^o agcnt can changc.
Jhcycan onÍy shitt sÍightÍy.
Jhc Revue Scientifque ncvcrtircdotdccÍaringthccnd otcurativc
122 War and Peace of Microbes
mcdicinc. !oraphysician,this vas not avcrypÍcasantthingtohcar.
Jhc cntirc Ïastcuriantakcovcr otmcdicinc was aimcd at rcdchning
pathoÍogysothatdiscascwouÍdbcprevented instcadotcured. Kichct
writcs in a poÍcmic: 'Ïastcur aÍonc . . . has madc morc progrcss in
mcdicinc than havc I0,000practitioncrs morc compctcntthanhcin
mcdicaÍscicncc" _oussct dc ßcÍÍcsmc. I88Z,p. 50º).Jhc rcasontor
this progrcss was simpÍc cnough and cnthuscd aÍÍ thcauthorsotthc
Revue who wcrc tircd otmcdicinc. Ïastcur`shygicnc 'makcs it pos-
sibÍcto prcvcntthcmorbidcauscs, to rcmovc discascs,so as notto
havc to curc thcm" ¦AÍix. I88Z, p. I4º). Jhis cÍaim, which was
graduaÍÍyto disappcarbctorc thc cnd otthc ccntury, cutthc ground
trom undcr thc physicians` tcct. '!t is casicr to prcvcnt a hundrcd
pcopÍc trom taÍÍing iÍÍ than to curc oncwho has bccomc so,"writcs
Kochard ¦ I88/. p. J88) . Îow was a sociaÍ group, thc physicians, to
bc madc coopcrativc whiÍcthcywcrc at thc samctimc bcingwarncd
thatthcy wouÍd soon havc no morc paticnts to trcatr
^ot onÍy wcrc thc doctors dcspiscd, not onÍy was discasc to bc
rcdchncdby rcmovingthcpaticnt, andnotonÍywasthcartto which
thc physician had dcvotcd his Íitc apparcntÍy doomcd to immincnt
cxtinction, but 'thcy" cvcn wantcd him to pÍay a roÍc absoÍutcÍy
contrary to cvcrything hc had Ícarncd and contrary to his agc-oÍd
intcrcsts. 'Jhcy" wantcdhimto dccÍarcdiscascscontagious.!know
in socioÍogy ottcwsuch good cascs otthc rcdchnitionbyonc sociaÍ
groupotthc roÍc otanothcr group.
Îithcrto thc physician was thc conhdant ot his paticnts and hcÍd
and mcdicaÍ cthics. ^ow thc othcr protagonists wcrc about to turn
contagious paticnts. ^othing couÍd bcttcr show what is mcant by
bcing acted upon by othcrs. Jhc rcason tor this uphcavaÍ is a tun-
damcntaÍ onc. Jhc Ïastcurians addcd to socicty a ncw agcnt, which
compromiscd thc trccdom ot aÍÍ othcr agcnts by dispÍacing aÍÍ thcir
intcrcsts. Jhc hygicnists thcrctorc dcmandcd that microbcs bc prc-
onÍy way to achicvc this was to isoÍatc thc paticntbctorc hc couÍd
was to intorm thc hygicnc scrviccs immcdiatcÍy. ÒnÍy thc physician
couÍd do this bydccÍaringto thc authoritics that his paticntwas iÍÍ.
ßutwhcrcdidthisÍcavcmcdicaÍ sccrccyr !twouÍdbcacrimctokccp
sccrctthc sourcc ota contagion. ßutwhatotthc physician`s roÍcr h
Medicine at Last 123
was now rcvcrscd. Îc was no Íongcr a conhdant oIthcpatient, but
to contaminatc othcrs. ln ordcr to savc cvcryonc`s Íibcrty, thc con-
inshortputoutoIharm`s way,ÍikcacriminaÍ. Disease was no longer
a private misfortune but an offense to public order. lnto thc middÍc
oIthc stagc, which hadhithcrto bccn occupicd bythc physician and
his paticnt, thcrc now burst, as in thc counting-out rhymc, thc mi-
crobcs, thc rcvcaÍcr oI thc microbc, thc hygicnist, thc mayor, thc
to this gcncraÍ movcmcnt oI thc authoritics-a movcmcntthat, Íikc
an carthguakc, totaÍÍy subvcrtcd thc roÍc oI onc oI thc agcnts, thc
Jhis rcvcrsaÍ, inwhich thc physicians wcrc actcd upon by othcrs,
istakcnasscÍI-cvidcntinthcRevue Scientifque butgivcsrisctohowÍs
oI disapprovaÍ in thc Concours Medical. An anonymous physician
warns: 'You wiÍÍthcn know, iIyou dccÍarc a discasc, thc sguads oI
disinIcctors, your rooms, your Iurniturc, you yourscÍI wiÍÍ bc car-
you and thc othcrs wiÍÍ bc trcatcd Íikc bcarcrs oIthc pÍaguc, Iricnds
wiÍÍ IÍcc you, you wiÍÍ bc ÍcIt aÍonc with your chÍoraÍ, your carboÍic
acid, and your paticnt, who wiÍÍ gct no bcttcr Ior thcm" ¦ I8º4, p.
Up toI8º4thc Concours ncvcr ccascdtoinvcigh againstthc dan-
gcrs oInotiIying thc authoritics about discascs, whichwas rcgardcd
to bc thc sourcc not oI a ncw powcr but oI a ncw impotcncc. Vc
bcÍicvc onÍy what may bc oI bcncht to us. ln thc shortnctworkthat
Íinkcdthc individuaÍ paticntwith thc physician, onÍythc trust oIthc
paticnt couÍd bcrcturncd. lI it was Íost, cvcrythingwas Íost.
lt was much Íatcrthat aphysicianÍikc VaÍcntino couÍdwritc: 'lI
mcdicaÍ sccrccywcrc aboÍishcd, thc physicianwouÍdncvcrthcÍcss bc
putin chargc oIpubÍic hcaÍth andpubÍic hygicnc by socicty . . . hc
wouÍdbc aÍÍowcdto ignorc thc scÍhsh dcsidcrata oIhis cÍicntcÍc and
bccomc truÍy what hc oughtto bc: thc scrvant oI socicty" ¦ Iº04, p.
124 War and Peace of Microbes
ßctwccn thcsc two guotations a rcvcrsaÍ ot thc physicians` roÍc,
took pÍacc. !rom bcing paticnts, thcy bccamc agcnts. Jhcy became
active. Jhc trust ot thc paticnts aÍong a short nctwork bccamc Ícss
thcmin rcturn to act upon paticnts.
!n ordcr to undcrstand this trcsh start, wc must undcrstand that
thosc who rcdchncdthc roÍc otthc physician nccdcd him. Jhcy dic-
tatcd his ncw dutics to him, thcy discusscd, withoutconsuÍting him,
whatstudics hc shouÍd toÍÍow, thcy cxpÍaincd to himindctaiÍwhat
gcsturcs hc mustmakcin diagnosingdiphthcria, butinthusinsisting
scrvant but acoopcratingagcnt. AÍthoughthcirwordswcrcmarkcd
by absoÍutc idcaÍism and aÍthough thcy aÍways spokc ot 'progrcss"
and 'dittusion," thc hygicnists kncw vcry wcÍÍ in practicc that thcy
nccdcdto torm aÍÍianccswith activc groups ita gcsturc ortcchniguc
wcrc to sprcad into cvcry corncr ot !rcnch socicty. Jhc physicians
may havc bccn dcspiscd and rcgardcd as obscurantists or incompc�
tcnts, but who cÍsc couÍd bc rcÍicd upon to sprcad hygicncr Jhcy
couÍd, as in LngÍand, havc crcatcd a ncw protcssionaÍ group that
might havc workcd, sidc by sidc with thc physicians, as agcnts ot
pubÍic hcaÍth.¯ ßut in !rancc thc authoritics dccidcd to usc thc phy-
sicians, thc onÍy pcopÍc at hand, so to spcak, with a vicw to gcttit:g
thcm to do what hygicnc rcguircd otthcm.
!t thc physicians wcrc rctormcd, rccducatcd, and ottcrcd ccrtain
satistactions, thcy wouÍd bc guitc capabÍc, according to thc authors
ot thc Revue, ot making adcguatc agcnts tor appÍying thc ncw sci-
thcyhadto bc taughtthc ncwscicnccs: 'Jhisisnottoo much to ask
otmcnwhoscprotcssionaÍtraining cndcdat thc agc ottwcnty-hvc."
in spitc ot thcmscÍvcs, it sccms-as scrvants ot pubÍic hcaÍth, oncc
thc iÍÍusion ot a compÍctc disappcarancc ot discascs bcgan to tadc.
Îc dchncs somcwhat dchantÍy a contract to bc drawn up with thc
and roÍcs, and whcn thc country pÍaccs cvcr morc trust in thc phy-
sicians, it isright to dcmandinthc dcÍibcrating asscmbÍicsthatthcy
cxtcnd thcir knowÍcdgc" ¦ I88/, p. Jº0). Îc adds: '!twiÍÍ bc abso-
ÍutcÍy ncccssary to givcthcmprccisc instructions andto makc surc
thatthcydonotdcparttromthcm" ¦p.JºI) . Jhcphysiciansmaynot
Medicine at Last 125
know tor thcm, andin dctaiÍ. !t thcy did not undcrstand thcir own
wcrcnot trustcd, butthcy wcrc nccdcd. Lvcn in I8º4Kichctwritcs:
'Jhc carÍy, dchnitc diagnosis ot diphthcria can bc cstabÍishcd onÍy
usc thcsc mcthods" ¦ I8º4, p. 4IZ) .
Ïity thc poor physician-his roÍc rcdchncd by othcrs, robbcd ot
his own dchnitions ot discascs, turncd upsidc down in his mcdicaÍ
cthics, madcthcrcprcscntativcotancwtorccthat at hrst dcnicdhis
roÍc and thcn toÍd him in thc minutcst dctaiÍ what hc had to do in
his consuÍting room and what mcthods hc must cmpÍoy. As it such
mistrustwcrc not cnough, pcopÍc wcrc bcingcaÍÍcd upon to urgcthc
physicians to contorm to thc dictatcs ot thc !nstitut Ïastcur. ! was
wrongto saythat onÍythc microbcs suttcrcd duringthis pcriod. Jhc
physicians did too.
And yct Kichct might havc rctraincd trom this uÍtimatc sign ot
distrust. !or it was prcciscÍy in that ycarthat thc physicians scizcd
upon thc roÍc that was bcing imposcd upon thcm, rctransÍatcd it,
ampÍihcd it, and in thc cnd congucrcd thcir congucrors.
Where the Patient Becomes Agent
Jhc physicians ot thc Concours Medical wcrc wcÍÍ awarc ot this
rcdchnition otthcir roÍc, thrust upon thcm trom abovc, which was
intcndcdto rctorm thcm through a contractthattromthcir point ot
vicwmcant that thcy wouÍd Íosc cvcrything thcyhad. 5pcaking sar-
casticaÍÍy ot thc rctorms proposcd by onc prctcct, an anonymous
physician writcs: 'Jhis individuaÍ is undcr thc imprcssion that, tor
aÍÍ thc organizations that hc proposcs to sct up, thcrc arc coÍÍabo-
rators, awaitingordcrs, scattcrcdthroughouta Íargc part otthctcr-
ritory ot !rancc" ¦ I88/, p. J6Z). And this was prcciscÍy what thc
agcnts what thc Revue Scientifque was saying on thc sidc ot thc
dispÍacingagcnts. Jhc othcrs wantcd to makc thcphysicians agcnts
othygicnc, bccauscthcythcmscÍvcswcrcnot numcrous cnoughtobc
cvcrywhcrc at oncc. Jhc Concours ccrtainÍy sawthcm coming. An
protcction, passcd bythc country`srcprcscntativcswithout spcnding
a sou" ¦ Iº00, p. º/). !ti· ordcr to construct thcir sanitization, thc
126 War and Peace of Microbes
hygicnists nccdcd thc dccÍining physicians as much as thc rising Ïas-
tcurians. !t thcy taiÍcd to torgct this doubÍc association, thcy wouÍd
ncvcr rcaÍizcthcir pÍans.
Jhcrc is no bcttcrcvidcncc otthcphysicians' scnsc otbcing actcd
uponthanthis tabÍcwrittcnbyaphysician. Ònthconcsidc, arc sick
mcn, and onthc othcr arc thc gods, that is, thc bigbosscsinÏaris÷
hygicnists, poÍiticians, and Ïastcurians: '!n thc middÍc arc a group
ot untortunatc bcings, tor whom thcrc 1s ncithcr rcst nor rcspitc,
cntrustcdwiththc taskotcaring torthc humans and otwarningthc
gods, thcy havc no othcr rcward tor this task thanthat ot avoiding
divincpunishmcnt, thcy hndthcmscÍvcscaughtbctwccnthc angcrot
thcgods, who accusc thcm otbcingtoo sÍow, andthchatrcdotthc
humans,whorcgardthcm asrcsponsibÍctorthcir mistortuncs" ¦Îcr-
voucst: I8º4,p. Z6).Anactcd-upongroupmaycithcrrcsistbyincrtia
or, itothcr sociaÍ groupshccdit, idcntity itscÍtwiththcwishcsotthc
othcr groups andswitchovcrto thcottcnsivc, itscÍtproposing3dcaÍ.
Jhc idca ot a dcaÍ madc with thc statc, that is, with Ïaris, pops up
morc and morc trcgucntÍy in thc Concours.8 !t is possibÍc, thc phy-
sicians writc, that thcy couÍd agrcc to carry out aÍÍ thc ncw things
that thc statc is asking ot thcm and which thcy rctusc with such iÍÍ
gracc, but onÍy in cxchangc tor a suitabÍc rcward and abovc aÍÍ in
rcndcrcd bythc physicians, which, ncvcrthcÍcss, cvcrybody dcmands
otthcmas insistcntÍy as cvcr" ¦Anon. : I88/, p. 4º0).
Jhc dcaÍ that was bcginning to cmcrgc was that thc physicians
wouÍd scrvc thc statc, but thcstatc wouÍd thcn rid thc physicians ot
thcirtraditionaÍcncmics.AsrcadcrsotThe Parasite, physicianswouÍd
havc to say: wc wiÍÍhcÍp thc statcto rid!rancc otparasitcs, butthc
statc must gct rid ot thosc who arc sucking our bÍood-thc phar-
macists, thc charÍatans, thc nuns, and so torth. ¦5crrcs: Iº80/Iº8Z).
Ïhysicians wcrc ncithcr tor nor against 'scicncc" as such. ^othing
trom within its own intcrcsts and wishcs, that is, transÍatc it. Jhc
to strcngthcn this ncw dcaÍ. Ònc physician cxcÍaims: '!s it not dc-
pÍorabÍcand rcvoÍting, attcrthc wondcrtuÍ congucsts otmcdicaÍ and
surgicaÍ scicncc, to witncss thc truÍy tcrritying sprcad ot thc iÍÍcgaÍ
cxcrciscotcharÍatanisminaÍÍitstorms" ¸LasaÍÍc: I888, p.56Z).Jhis
physician is rcady to admirc scicncc onÍy in ordcr to crushthc char-
Medicine at Last 12 7
Íatans. Vc shouÍd not bÍamc him tor this narrowncss otvision, tor
thchygicnists did thc samc. ÒnÍy thc dircction otthcir movcmcnts
'cnÍightcncd" and morc 'maturc" bccausc it assistcd thc victors, or
at Ícastthoscwho appointcd thcmscÍvcs as victors.
to divcrt ccrtain torccs hostiÍc to thc physicians by using thcm to
cradicatc othcr cncmics, thcphysicians wouÍd ncvcr havcmadc usc
ot Ïastcurism it, by an uncxpcctcd dritt, thc !nstitut had not comc
within thcir rcach. Jhc vaccinc, which was prcvcntivc, rubbcd phy-
siciansthc wrongway, sincc itdcprivcd thcm otpaticnts who couÍd
pay. Jhc scrum, invcntcd by Koux and his coÍÍcagucs, was on thc
contrary athcrapy that was uscdafter apaticnt had bccn diagnoscd
aÍÍows us to datc, wcck by wcck, thc movcmcnt by which a group,
hithcrto actcdupon, switchcdovcr to action bccauscthcothcrs had
movcd in othcr dircctions. Jhc Ïastcurian shitttromvaccincs to scr-
ums via immunoÍogy, providcd thc physicians trom I8º4 onward
with a way ot continuing thcir traditionaÍ protcssion as mcn who
andtrcatingdiphthcria, atcrribÍc chiÍdhood discasc. JhcÏastcurians
thchygicnistshaduscd immcdiatcÍyinordcrtotransÍatc itinto 'con-
tagioncnvironmcnt."As soon asthcywcrcabÍcto go ondoingwhat
incompctcntimmcdiatcÍygotmoving, an cxcmpÍaryproototthc
taÍscncss otthc dittusionistmodcÍ.
is Kichct's: 'Vc must insist that thc physician makc usc ot thcsc
mcthodsotscrothcrapy" ¦ I8º4,p. 4I7) . Jhiswasthc position otthc
groups that had bccomc dominant, which had had thc initiativc tor
twcntyycars andwantcdto drivcthcphysiciansinto rctormingthcm-
scÍvcs. !nthc Concours awcck bctorcwchnd: '5o Íctusnotcnthusc
too guickÍy Ícst wc sub¡cct N. Koux's discovcry to thc tatc ot N.
us convcrt our cÍicnts to our skcpticism and not Íct ourscÍvcs bc
inIÍucnccdtoo guickÍy by idcas,whichthcy appcarto havcadoptcd
uncriticaÍÍytromìhcir ncwspapcrs" ¦Anon. : I8º4,p. 4J4).Jwo dct-
J28 War and Peace of Microbes
hcrc,andthctwosidcsarc ÍincdupwiththcRevue andthcConcours.
Vhat is at stakc is simpÍc cnough. ltthcpubÍicraiscs a huc and cry
tor thc scrum trom thc lnstitut Ïastcur that may savc its chiÍdrcn,
whatarcphysicians todor KctormatÍastandgive into pressure, says
thc Revue; rcmain skcpticaÍ and resist pressure, says thc Concours.
Jhis is thc coÍÍision point ot two immcnsc torccs. Jhc physicians
shouÍd givc in and bccomc at Íast thc modcrn agcnts that wc nccd,
thc physicians shouÍd rcsist and continuc to kccp thc pubÍic away
trom thcsc somcwhat unscicntihc cnthusiasms. ßut thc physicians
wcrcncithcrto givcinnorto rcsist,thcywcrcto dcIÍcctthcircoursc.
ln Òctobcr I 8º4 thc big story in thc Concours is noI diphthcria
scrum is mcntioncd bythc physician writcr, butstiÍÍwith 3 vicwot
counscÍing scicntihc prudcncc: 'N. Koux's discovcry continucs to
this and associatc ourscÍvcs with it. Îowcvcr wc cannot but tccÍ a
ccrtain apprchcnsion whcn controntcd by 'univcrsaÍ cnthusiasm. ' "
Jhc anonymous writcr adds, 'Vc must show thc worÍd that thc
harcbraincd!rcnch arccapabÍc,inthcscicnccs, otprovingcvcnmorc
cautious than thc pondcrous Gcrmans thcmscÍvcs |" ¦ I8º4, p. 5I0).
Jhis scntcnccwaswrittcn duringthcFigaro subscription, atthcvcry
timc whcn thc diphthcria scrvicc, which Kichct wantcd to torcc thc
physicians to usc, was bcing sct up|
Vhocan stiÍÍ spcakot'dazzÍing" and 'indisputabÍc"prootr Jhis
prudcnccinthc taccotsomuchcnthusiasmprovidcsa spÍcndid con-
cÍusions cvcn bctorc hc had opcncd his mouth. ßut thc physicians'
mistrust is undcrstandabÍc. Lct us not torgct that crcduÍity, trust,
skcpticism, indittcrcncc, and oppositíon rctcr notto mcntaÍ attitudcs
or virtucs but to an angÍc ot dispÍaccmcnt. Jhc samc physican ¡our-
naÍist cxpÍains pcrtcctÍy why thcrc is so much distrust. ln ordcr to
diagnosc diphthcria with 'ccrtainty" and to trcat it cttcctivcÍy, a
physician has to go physicaÍÍy to thc lnstitutÏastcur twicc: thchrst
timc to bringinthcmcmbrancstromthcpaticnt'sthroat,thcsccond
tcst, to takc thc scrum viaÍ back to thc paticnt. Jhcrc is nothing
surprising in this, sincc it was onÍy in thc Íaboratory thatthc powcr
ot thc microbcs was rcvcrscd. ln ordcr to movc thc baciÍÍus, thc
physician had to movc himscÍt twicc in thc dircction ot thc lnstitut
Medicine at Last 129
Íaboratory, thatis, hctwicc had to dcny thc ÍocaÍworkotthc prac-
titioncr. 'Jhis systcm isabsoÍutcÍyimpossibÍc," thcphysician writcr
adds. Ïhysicians couÍd transÍatc thc diphthcria scrum onÍy it it was
movcd to thcm and cnabÍcd thcm, by this ncw mcans, to do bcttcr
what thcy had bccn doing bctorc. !t it was a mattcr ot going twicc
Vhat couÍd bc morc naturaÍr Jhis is not sÍowncss butnegotiation.
!njanuary I8º5thcphysicians`rcsistanccwaswcakcr.Jhcy wcrc
no Íongcr compÍainingothastc andunivcrsaÍcnthusiasm, but otbad
organization in thc scrum dcpartmcnt. Vhyr ßccausc that organi-
zation was sct up with thc cxprcss aim otmoving the serum at last
to the physicians' consulting rooms. Jhcscopcotthismovcmcntwas
in dircct ratio with thc dccÍinc in thcir mistrust. !n thc ncgotiations
that wcrc takingpÍacc, any dittusion otthc scrum to thc consuÍting
rooms rcintorccd at Íast thcir position as traditionaÍ practitioncrs
Íongcr intcrruptcd or ridicuÍcd thcirwork but, having itscÍtbccn dc-
Íow, aÍÍ it rcguircd was that thc physician`s consuÍtingroom shouÍd
bctranstormcdat certain points into an anncxotthcÍaboratorics ot
wouÍd bccomc so widc thatthcphysicians cndcdup aÍigncd morcor
Ícss in thc samc dircction as thc Ïastcurians, who had thcmscÍvcs
dcIÍcctcd thcir rcscarchcrs trom vaccincs to scrums. !t wc had not
carctuÍÍy rcconstructcd thcsc two dispÍaccmcnts, it wouÍd havc bccn
incvitabÍc to spcak on thc onc hand ot an incomprchcnsibÍc 'rcvo-
Íution" and, on thc othcr, ota suddcn 'convcrsion."
Let Us Prepare for Evolution If We Are T O Avoid a Revolution
Jhc brcaking point camc in thc Concours Medical on Narch ZJ,
that thcy movc around I80 dcgrccs. !c wantcd to switch tromthc
dctcnsivc to thc ottcnsivc. Jhis articÍc, astonishingÍy cntitÍcd 'ßac-
tcrioÍogy and thcNcdicaÍÏrotcssion," is guotcdhcrcin tuÍÍ:
!tmaybcnottoo soonto Íookahcadintothctuturc thatthc
130 War and Peace of Microbes
ot thc iÍÍustrious Ïastcur and his schooÍ, has in storc tor thc
Vhat a distancc has bccn covcrcd sincc thc dcatcning ducÍ
bctwccn thosc two orators inthc Acadcmic, Ïastcur and Ïctcr|
Andyct it sccms onÍy Íikcycstcrday.Jhc ardorandskiÍÍotthc
chan¡pion otour oÍd cÍinicaÍ mcthods wcrc wastcd, tor thc ad-
vcrsary advancing against him was not a thcorctician, onc ot
thosc drcamcrs who crcatc a tashion, a passing tad, but it was
ascicntist, itwas thc cxpcrimcntaÍ mcthod, itwas progrcss.
5o todayhisarmy hoÍds aÍÍ thc kcys otthc tortrcss.
5urgcry and hygicnc havc bccncongucrcd: thc oÍd mcdicinc
is no Íongcr abÍc to hght aÍonc tor thc tcrrain. Diagnosis, that
primordiaÍ cÍcmcnt otourart,wiÍÍsoonno Íongcr bc abÍcto do
without thc microscopc, bactcrioÍogicaÍ or chcmicaÍ anaÍysis,
cuÍturcs, inocuÍations, in a word cvcrything that may givc our
cÍinicaÍ ¡udgmcnts absoÍutcÍyprcciscdata.
ßutwhatwiÍÍthcn bccomc otmcdicaÍ tÍair, that indchnabÍc
antccwhichthc pubÍicuscdto rcguircotourwhitchairsrJhcir
vaÍucwiÍÍ bc disputabÍc andwiÍÍ bc morc and morc disputcd.
physicians, who Íctt thc LcoÍc dc Ncdicinc cvcn tcn ycars ago.
sprcads outinto our provinccs and, bythatvcry tact, makcs us
trcmbÍc bctorc such stittcompctition,whcn thc struggÍc torcx-
istcncc bcgins, bctwccn us and thosc young mcn armcd with
dittcrcnt skiÍÍs trom ours, with thc ardor and conhdcncc that a
scnsc ot rcaÍ vaÍuc givcs onc, wiÍÍ wc not soon bc thrcatcncd
with a crushing, irrcmcdiabÍc dctcatr ViÍÍthc pubÍicbcon our
CoÍÍcagucs, torgivc us torthiscryot aÍarm|
Íaugh at baciÍÍi and cuÍturc mcdia. Jhosc who cuÍtivatc thcm
aÍrcady dcscrvc our rcspcct torthc scrviccsthatthcyhavc givcn
mankind, tor us, thc oÍd guard otthc mcdicaÍ protcssion, thcy
must aÍso inspirc saÍutary tcarandadctcrminationto bcusctuÍ.
Vc mustmarchwiththctimcs. Jhc comingccnturywiÍÍ sccthc
bÍossoming otancw mcdicinc: Íctus dcvotcwhatisÍcttotthis
ccntury to studying it.
Lct us go back to schooÍ, and prcparc thc ground tor an
cvoÍution, itwc arc to avoid a rcvoÍution.
Medicine at Last 131
Andi titis impossibÍc tormanyotusto Ícavc our nativc soiÍ
torthc Íccturc haÍÍs and Íaboratorics otour youngmastcrs, Íct
us scck thcir tcaching whcrc it is to bc tound,ihat is, in thc
mcdicaÍ ¡ournaÍs. ln our day, trcatiscs and dictionarics arc out-
rapid march ot progrcss and scicntihc cvoÍution. Lct us rcad
!n this waywcshaÍÍ takcposscssionotthcthcoryotthcncw
idcas. Jhcn, throwing ottiÍÍ-pÍaccd smugncss, guidcd soÍcÍy by
goodtaithand a Íovc ottruth, wc shaÍÍ ask ouryoung compct-
itors, at thc paticnt`s bcdsidc or in consuÍtations, to sharc thc
bcnchts otthcir rcccnt studics with us, at thc samc timc Íct us
5crvicc tor scrvicc. ln thisway wc shaÍÍ cstabÍish and makc
cÍoscrthc bonds otprotcssionaÍsoÍidarity,whichwiÍÍthusmakc
Jhis Dr. |cannc is Íikc Ïrincc 5aÍina in The Leopard taccd with
rcvoÍution ¦Lampcdusa: Iº60). lt hc switchcs ovcr to thc ottcnsivc,
and to thc cncmics otmcdicinc aÍikc. !t is|cannc and not ! who is
strcssingthc baÍancc ottorccs, who dcvcÍopsthcmiÍitaryrctcrcnccs,
and who spcaks otcontract and coopcration onÍy in ordcr to cscapc
trom a dcspcratc situation. ln passing ovcr into action, thosc who
wcrc prcviousÍy sccn as inactivc wcrc obviousÍy to bctray what was
cxpcctcdotthcm. Jhcywcrcto shittthctunctionthathadbccn givcn
thcm that thcy had oncc stubbornÍy rctuscd. '!n our timc sociaÍ Íitc
tcnds, on thc contrary, to usc mcdicaÍ knowÍcdgc morc and morc.
tcchnicaÍ compctcncc. Jhcrc is nothing in this tcstimony ot cstccm
tor our skiÍÍs and protcssionaÍ couragc to dispÍcasc us. Lct us, thcn,
acccpt thcm with good gracc. ßut Íct us not Íosc thc opportunity ot
I8ºó, p. I44) . Jhc physicians had stoppcd draggingthcir tcct, but
thcywcrc now asking tor paymcnt that thc othcrs wcrc not wiÍÍing
to givcthcm. Îavingbccnmovcd, thcynow agrccdto movc otthcir
own accord, butonÍyincxchangctorsomcthingcÍscandtogowhcrc
ncw and bcttcr-paidwork awaitcd thcm. Lithcrthc groups wcrc not
132 War and Peace of Microbes
intcrcstcdand nothing vouÍd makc thcmchangc thcir mind, or thcy
wcrc intcrcstcd, but onÍy in transÍating in a dittcrcnt way what thcy
^othing couÍd bcttcr show thc compÍctc changc ot attitudc than
thcpositionotthc Concours towardÏastcurianscicncc. ' UntiÍrcccnt
ycars, thc Concours Medical has voÍuntariÍy abstaincd trom spcak-
yÍo, mico, ctc. ), or ot purc bactcrioÍogicaÍ studics, knowing that
practitioncrs, its usuaÍ rcadcrs, wouÍd not carc vcry much tor that
ovcrspccuÍativc, ovcrhypothcticaÍ hodgc-podgc." Jhcy voluntarily
maintaincd thcir distancc trom thc Ïastcurians. Vhat isthc point ot
Ícarningwhat cannot bc transÍatcdrVhatisthc point otbcÍicvingin
crcdcncc to what cncouragcs thc sprcad otcncmicsr !n I8º5 cvcry-
thingchangcdwhcn itbccamcpossibÍcto scc diphthcria as away ot
saving traditionaÍ mcdicinc. As |cannc rccaÍÍs. 'ßut today, bactcri-
oÍogyhas cmcrgcd trom thc Íaboratory, it has cntcrcd cÍinicaÍ mcd-
icinc, it has cvcn rcachcdthcrapcutics. "!t is not ! who am spcaking
ot dispÍaccmcnt. !t is |cannc who gaugcs thc movcmcnt otthc Ïas-
tcurian Íaboratory, which hnds itscÍtat Íast in apÍaccwhcrc it can
scrvc thc physician. '!rom thc bcginning it dccÍarcd its supcriority,
thcwhoÍcot!rancc aÍrcadyposscsscsavcrypowcrtuÍscrum against
diphthcria." Îc adds this hnaÍ bÍow. '!t is absoÍutcÍy ncccssary tor
cvcrypractitioncr to know thistrcatmcntand to bcabÍc to appÍy it.
_cannc. I8º5, p. Iºº) . Vhathappcncdto thcprudcnccinvokcdin
5cptcmbcrr Vhat happcncd to thc nccd to appcar 'morc cautious
havc aÍtcrcd thc dircction ot that 'absoÍutcÍy ncccssary." Yct thcy
wcrc thc same practitioncrs.
!nApriÍthcywcntturthcrstiÍÍ.Jhc Concours dcmandcdas aright
thatthcphysiciango back to schooÍandÍcarn bactcrioÍogy: '|ust as
thcncw Íawsmakc aÍÍphysicians othciaÍ agcnts otthc pubÍichygicnc
scrvicc, thosc agcnts must bc providcd with thc mcans ot Ícarning
and pÍaying thcir roÍcs" ¦Anon. . I8º5,p. I60) . A hncword, that ot
'agcnts."Aspaticnts, physicians mockcdthcÍittÍcbcasts, asagcnts,
its mcaning. Jhc country was right to dcmandthat physicians Ícarn
thcncw scicnccs. ßut now it was a right that physicians dcmandcd
in cxchangctorwhat thc country dcmandcd otthcm.
Medicine at Last JJJ
uering Our Con
ueror and Translating Our Translators
wc can rcad in thc Concours: 'Jhc physician who dcprivcs himscÍt
ot microbic controÍ in cascs ot cxudatc ¸that is, thc inspcction ot
paticnts` throats] wouÍd bc as irrcsponsibÍc, hcartÍcss, and guiÍty as
thc doctor who, in thc casc ot puÍmonary discasc, rctraincd trom .
using auscuÍtation" ¦Anon. : I8º5, p. J8J)
Attcr such cvidcncc can i tstiÍÍ bcsaid that 'timc passcs" or that
thcrc is a timc that scrvcs as a tramc otrctcrcncc tor historyr !t was
onÍy now, hhccnycars attcr ÏouiÍÍy-Íc-!ort, that physicians wcrc rc-
aÍizingÏastcurian bactcrioÍogy had cmcrgcdtromthc Íaboratory. 1cy
and 'Íimitcd" physicianshad ovcrcomc thcir scrupÍcs, sothatitwas
nowcriminaÍnotto dowhatitwouÍdhavcbccndangcrousto dothc
ycar bctorc. Ïhysicians wcrc thcrctorc moving at astonishing spccd.
thcy wcrc transtorming antidiphthcriavaccinationinto somcthingas
ycars bctorc. Jimc is ncgotiatcd: that tact is obvious cnough, yct
obvious as it may bc, it is aÍÍ too ottcn torgottcn byhistorians who
cxpÍain sociaÍ movcmcnts by onc otthc uÍtimatc and distant consc-
grid ot days, months, and ycars.
immediately altered the chronology so as to incÍudc Ïastcur as onc
among othcr cÍcmcnts ot thc oÍd, at Íast triumphant mcdicinc. Jhc
rcarrangcmcnt ot thc sccondary mcchanism is nowhcrc cÍcarcr than
inanarticÍcbyßouchardinthcRevue Scientifque. !tisthchrstarticÍc
hygicnists, and army doctors, that is, proudÍyand inthc hrstpcrson
pÍuraÍ. ÒtÏastcurhcwritcs: 'ßutwhatcvcrthcimportanccotamcd-
icaÍ discovcry, itdocs not supcrscdc mcdicinc, it can hnditspÍaccin
it." Vc arctartrom Ïastcur`stakcovcrotthcoÍdmcdicinc.Vho has
thc contrary. ßouchard gocs on: 'Jhc contribution ot bactcrioÍogy
is strangcÍy rcduccd, and tor that rcason wc rcmain within thc oÍd
hygicnists wcrc saying twcnty ycars bctorc about thc contagion cn-
IJ4 War and Peace of Microbes
vironmcnt. 'Jhis scroth�rapy cxaÍting thc tunctions by which wc
innaturistthcrapcutics. "Îccnds by consccratingnotthcraÍÍyingot
thcrapcutic progrcss, tar trom shaking thc oÍd cdihcc, usuaÍÍy docs
no morc than soÍicit thc cttorts ot thc oÍd curativc naturcr" ¦ I8º5:
p. ZZ5) . AsÎcricourtsaidtcnycarsbctorc.'JhcoÍdadagcMorborum
Causa Externa Morbus Corporis Reactio isthcrctorcastrucascvcr"
¦ I885,p. 5JZ) .
Vhcn at Íast thc physicians switchcd ovcr to thc ottcnsivc, thcy
rcdchncd thc roÍc and tunction ot thoscwho had hithcrto cÍaimcd to
dchncthcm. Jhc acccptanccotÍaboratorymcthods wasrcncgotiatcd
according to thc tcrms ot thc oÍd cÍinicaÍ mcdicinc. 'Kadiography,
bactcrioÍogy, scrodiagnosis arc stiÍÍ wcapons ot too guick a triggcr
torordinary mortaÍs, !mcan, torpractitioncrs Íikc us. Vcmaydrcam
ot thc prccision that thcy promisc us, but wc must not torgct that
thcy somctimcs havc scrious drawbacks and wc must sub¡cct thcm
unIÍinchingÍy to purc cÍinicaÍ mcdicinc. Abovc aÍÍ Íct us not start a
civiÍwar ovcr gcrms" ¦|cannc. Iº00, p. I45) .
Vc sccthc cxtcntto which Ïastcur'stakcovcrotmcdicincwas an
iÍÍusion. Jhc doctors whom hc nccdcd to cxtcnd his inIÍucncc wcrc
not asobÍigingasthchygicnists, who cÍcctcd himto bcthc Ícadcr ot
thcirmovcmcnt so as to makc thcir own conviction cthcacious. As
Íatc as Iº05 thc Concours Medical cÍaims with accrtain supcriority.
who cÍaim tor cÍinicaÍ mcdicinc a tormaÍ right otpriority ovcr thc
our opinion. ßut, though ot sccondary importancc, thc diagnostic
mcthod providcd by thc Ìaboratory must not bc disdaincd" ¦Îu-
gucnin. Iº05, p. Z0Z) .
Agcncrationattcr thc cnthusiasmotthchygicnists, thcattitudc ot
physicians was simpÍy not to disdain thc Íaboratory. Lvcn bactcrio-
ÍogicaÍscicncc had bccncompÍctcÍyrctransÍatcd.
º !n Iº00 thc Con
cours Medical Íaunchcd a compctition amongitsrcadcrsto proposc
rcmcdics tor protcssionaI overcrowding, thc onÍytruÍytataÍ discasc
tromthcpointotvicwotthcphysicians. Jhcprizcwcntto accrtain
Dr. Couthcr ¦ Iº00, pp. 5Z8-556). Îc spokc otthc bactcrioÍogicaÍ
scicnccs otthc grcat Ïastcur, but hc saw thcm as a remedy tor ov-
Medicine at Last JJ5
crcrowding| ßycxtcnding thc pcriod ot mcdicaÍ study, thc scicnccs
wouÍd Íimit thc numbcr ot coÍÍcagucs, and it Grcck and Latin wcrc
addcd, thc rcsuÍts wouÍd bc bcttcrstiÍÍ. Jhis wasno act otmcanncss
onthcpartotthc¡ournaÍ.!nIº06thcRevue Scientifque aÍsoÍaunchcd
a gucstionnairc on thc 'Kctorm otNcdicaÍ 5tudics." JouÍousc, thc
ncw cditor otthc Revue, bcganthis inguiry bccausc, hc cxpÍains, 'a
so-caÍÍcd sccondary scicnccs ¦chcmistry, bioÍogy, physics, parasitoÍ-
ogy) in mcdicaÍ tcaching and an oricntation toward thc training ot
cxpcricnccd practitioncrs with a thorough grasp otthc practiccs ot
thcirart" ¦ Iº05, p. /0Z).
dircctions as thcrc arc agcnts capabÍc ot making thcir positions ir-
rcvcrsibÍc. !t was possibÍc to gct rid ot bactcrioÍogy as guickÍy as
Ïastcur got rid otmcdicinc.ßoth movcmcntswcrcpossibÍc on con-
tothc abscnccotvaccination, ¡ustastomovctromscicntihcmcdicinc
to a mcdicinc without scicncc.
Vcnthcphysiciansswitchcdovcrto thc ottcnsivc,thcyccrtainÍy
took somcthing trom Ïastcurism, but unÍikc thc hygicnists, thcy did
nottakc thc Íaboratorics,thcy took thc prcstigc attachcdto Ïastcur.
Jhc notion ot Ícgitimacy is rarcÍy corrcct in socioÍogy, but it may
transÍatc thcir intcrcsts in ordcr to cxtcnd thcir inhucncc but that
ncvcrthcÍcss nccd onc anothcr. !t is anothcr, simpÍcrtormotassoci-
ation. AgcncraÍinvcntory ottccsin Iº05 toraÍÍmcdicaÍtrcatmcnt,
whichthcConcours pubÍishcdinordcrtocascoutcompctition, shows
tairÍy cÍcarÍy thc pÍaccpÍaycd by Ïastcur's scicncc in basic mcdicinc.
!or a simpÍc ascptic bandagc thc paticnt wiÍÍ paythc priccota con-
visitsorconsuÍtations incÍudcs 'subcutancousin¡cctionotantimicro-
bic and antitoxicscrums, incÍudingthctrcatmcnt otÍocaÍprcvcntivc
accidcnts." ^ttcr htty ycars ot Íaboratory work and thirty ycars ot
and thc cstabÍishmcnt ot thc ncw mcdicaÍ scicncc, onÍy a tcw Íincs
havc bccn addcd to pagcs and pagcs otwhat was donc bctorc. Jhc
radicaÍ cpistcmoÍogicaÍ brcak turns out to bc a thin scratch in thc
practicc otthc ma¡ority.
ßut this was not truc ot thc prcstigc gaincd by this stratcgic rc�
136 War and Peace of Microbes
to guarantcc mcdicaÍ supcrvision, wcrc convcrtcd at Íast to this roÍc
thcyhad taiÍcd to crcatc a ncw protcssionaÍ group. Jhosc who say
acccptcd thc roÍc otpoÍiccmcn, abandoncd that otscicntists, cxccpt
to cxtcnd thc duration ot studics and to adopt a tcw mcthods that
wcrc 'not to bc disdaincd," and thcy rctaincd thc prcstigc ot thc
agcnts who nccdcd thcm. Òthcrs actcd as thcir cat`s paw.
satistaction wcrc pubÍishcd in thc Revue Scientifque. ^othing had
bcgun, that ot incrcasing thc vitaÍity ot thc individuaÍ and thc spc-
cics . . . ChiÍd-rcaring, brccding, 'hominicuÍturc`�tamiÍy hygicnc, cd-
ucationaÍ, psychoÍogicaÍ, and physicaÍ hygicnc. !s it nothing to tcach
and to practicc aÍÍ thatr" ¦ Iº0º, p. I6Z). !ndccd itwas not nothing|
sincc thcrc was no spcciaÍizcd protcssion in pubÍic mcdicinc. Jhc
ÏastcurianspringitscÍtwasimitated bythcphysicians,who spokcot
cvcrything, butwithout addingthc Íaboratory at stratcgic points. !n
IºI4 Chauttart, in an articÍc cntitÍcd 'Var and thc ÎcaÍth ot thc
Kacc," dchncs thc cxtcnsion otmcdicinc.
Òvcr thc past htty ycars, our mcdicaÍ habits havc changcd
rcmarkabÍy. Òncc, as physicians, wc saw scarccÍy anything but
thc individual to bc trcatcd,wcwcrcthcphysicianotapaticnt,
wc tricdto trcathim, to curc him, andwcthoughtthatoncchc
was curcd, wc had compÍctcd our task. Jhcn, as thc gcncraÍ
oricntation ot idcas aÍtcrcd, wc saw that thc physician had a
pÍacc not onÍy at thc paticnts' bcdsidc, but aÍso in advising a
as thcrc arc individuaÍ hcaÍths, thcrc arc hcaÍths otthc nation
with thcsc ¡ust as much. ¦ IºI5, p. I8)
Jhc physician, too, had movcd. Îcmovcd trom thc paticnt to thc
statc. ÎcoccupicdthcpÍacc appointcd bythcothcrsandchangcdhis
habits as ÍittÍc as possibÍc. JruÍy a strangc rcvoÍution, in which thc
Medicine at Last 13 7
supposcdÍy rcvoÍutionizcd groups movcd onÍy whcnthcywcrc surc
otbcing abÍcto carry on as bctorc and bctray thcirtransÍators. Jhc
rcvoÍutionaryhistory otthc scicnccs stiÍÍ awaits its JocgucviÍÍc.
Coercion at Last
ßctwccn I8/I and IºIºthcvariousactors tricd through cvcry pos-
sibÍc rcÍationship to dchnchygicnc, scicncc, andmcdicincinrcÍation
to onc anothcr. A tcw articÍcs Íay cÍaim to cÍarity and wish to bc
cxpÍoit an ambiguity to tusc intcrcsts and to producc ncw mixturcs.
Kichct cxcÍaims: 'AÍÍ thc probÍcms othygicnc arc sociaÍ gucstions.
^owwhat couÍd rcsoÍvc thcm itnot thc 5cicnccsr" ¦ I888, p. J60).
convcrgingonthis cnormous cÍovcrÍcatcxchangc: thc sociaÍ gucstion
¦povcrty, cxpÍoitation, aÍcohoÍism,tubcrcuÍosis) , thc taÍÍingbirthratc
and thc physicaÍ wcakncss ot thc !rcnch ¦gymnastics, army, wct-
nursing) , gucstions otsanitation ¦drains, purc watcr, poÍÍution) , thc
Íink bctwccn discascs and Íargc-scaÍc intcrnationaÍ commcrcc ¦guar-
antinc, supcrvision) , surgcryand hospitaÍ administration,thcrcsist-
anccot bodics and immunoÍogy, intcctious discascs, and parasiticaÍ
or tropicaÍ discascs. Jhcrc was no onc word to covcr aÍÍ thcsc con-
ccrns. Norcovcr, thc fusion that cnabÍcd thc Ïastcurians to movc
trom onc ordcr otconccrn to anothcr couÍd not Íast vcryÍong oncc
thc actors had mixcd togcthcr, movcd position, and rcachcd thcir
'aims"-orwhat thcy had dccidcd to caÍÍ thcir aims.
Îygicnc, tor instancc, that transÍator ot such an important sociaÍ
movcmcnt, graduaÍÍy disappcars trom thc Revue. Likc thc microbc
itscÍt, itwas an agcntcndowcdwithunityandpcrsonaÍitytoronÍya
'scndcr" in whosc namc onc had to act. ArticÍcs in thc rcvicw no
Íongcr advocatc changcs, thcy now describe organizatíons, such as
'thc Ïaris sanitary organization" and 'thc prcscnt statc otmcthods
tor puritying watcr." !n thcsc dcscriptivc articÍcs thc words 'supcr-
vision," 'rcguÍations," and 'poÍicing" rccur constantÍy. !n IºI0 a
rcport otthc Acadcmic dc Ncdccinc ontyphoidtcvcrproposcs 'su·
pcrvising" thccatchmcntotsprings, 'supcrvising" thcpurityingma-
chincry, 'rcguÍating" scwagc and 'dctccting" contagious discascs,
'thc prctcctoriaÍ authority has a duty to makc surc that thc said
War and Peace of Microbes
rcguÍations arc carricd out." Vhat wc now havc is routine, sincc it
is no Íongcra gucstionotscttingup orcxtcndingnctworks byusing
thcAcadcmic, isa 'vaÍuabÍchcÍp," butitisno Íongcranythingmorc
!t is dcsirabÍc to sctup bactcrioÍogicaÍ stations in thc dcpartmcnts,
without such stations thc sanitary poÍicing ot thc municipaÍity and
dcpartmcntscannotbccarricdoutcttcctivcÍy" ¦Anon. : IºI0,p.4/I).
thc socicty otthc timc was cngagcd, it was now no morc than thc
intormcr otan administration that had sprcad cvcrywhcrc, that had
congucrcd thc microbcs and thc pubÍic authoritics, and whosc Íaws
now had onÍy to bc implemented.12
At thc timc whcn hygicnc was disappcaring as an actor, to bc
programs ot sanitation wcrc hnaÍÍy undcrway, andwhcn thc Íaw ot
Iº0Z had bccn passcd, thcrc was no Íongcr any controvcrsy.¹³ ^o
onc was trying any morc to win aÍÍics tor thc sprcad ot hygicnic
prcccpts. 5cicntihc Íaws ratihcd by ¡ uridiciaÍ Íaws no Íongcr Íctt any
room tor argumcnt among thc groups aÍrcady rccruitcd. Òr rathcr,
thc rcmaining cncmics couÍd bc dcstroycdwith Ícss compunction. !n
I88/Kochard wants hygicnc to bc miÍitant, but hc aÍso knows that
it has to negotiate: '!t hygicnc wants to havc thc Íast word and to
gctits dccisions rcspcctcd, itwiÍÍ dowcÍÍtomovcwithcxtrcmcmod-
cration and caution. !t it shows itscÍt to bc tyrannicaÍ, intcrtcring,
onÍy whcn absoÍutcÍy ncccssary" ¦ I88/, p. JºZ).
A tcw ycars Íatcr Armaingaud, spcaking onthc sub¡cct ottubcr-
cuÍosis, uscs both a modcÍ ot transÍation and a modcÍ ot dittusion.
Îc compÍains thatidcas aboutthc contagion ottubcrcuÍosis do not
sprcad, but at thc samc timc hc Íooks tor aÍÍics powcrtuÍ cnough to
torcc thc dittusion ot a practicc. Îc proposcs to put up noticcs rc-
gucsting industriaÍists to takc carc otthcir tubcrcuÍarworkcrs: 'Do
you bcÍicvc that itwiÍÍ bcpossibÍcto ovcrcomc aÍÍ thc obstacÍcs put
and workshop managcrs . . . without a nationaÍ campaign to shitt
pubÍic opinion and torcc thcir handsr" Jhis iÍÍusion dcnounccd by
Medicine at Last ' 139
Armaingaud was ncvcrthcÍcss sharcd byaÍÍ thosc who bcÍicvcd that
Ïastcur`s discovcrics movcd through socicty otthcir own accord. As
accompany an idca ititisto bc capabÍc otundcrtakingthc¡ourncy:
'Òncc thcy havc bccn cnÍightcncd and convinccd, thc industriaÍists
must, itthcy arc to makc up thcir minds to act, bc torccd,with tcw
cxccptions, bythcdcmands otthcintcrcstcdpartics."Armaingaudis
so as to convincc thc bosscsthatKoch`s baciÍÍus is dangcrous. Jhis
movcisotcoursc inthc bcstintcrcstsotthc industriaÍists thcmscÍvcs,
butitthcy arc to undcrstandthcscintcrcsts, thcy nccdstrong proot:
'lt wc arc bcginning to gct thc disintcction othotcÍ rooms impÍc-
mcntcd . . . it is thanks to thc pubÍicity aÍrcady givcn by thc ncws-
papcrs to thc contagiousncss ot tubcrcuÍosis, which is making ncw
arrivaÍs dcmand guarantccs" ¦ I8ºJ, p. J4).
Vhat a good associoÍogist hc is | Îc knows that a proot provcs
nothing otitscÍt and that thc sociaÍ body has to bc workcd upon it
thcprcssistoinhucncccustomcrsto intÍucncc hotcÍ-kccpcrstointÍu-
cnccdisintcction scrviccs to drivc Koch`s baciÍÍus out otsocicty. Îc
scts thc actors against onc anothcr, knowing that onÍy a sÍight dis-
pÍaccmcnt can bcobtaincd trom cach otthcm and that a mcrc 'dit-
tusion" otthc 'truth" is notto bc cxpcctcd. ¸
Yct atcw ycarsÍatcrcvcrythingchangcdoncc this scricsotpcopÍc
had bccn convinccd. Jhcrc was no Íongcr any nccd to ncgotiatc, to
pubÍic`s ignorancc and carcÍcssncss and by thc irrationaÍ rcsistancc
that it scts up against hygicnic mcasurcs" ¦AHoing: IºI0, p. 48I) .
Jhcrc thcy wcrc at Íast, thc 'incrt," thc 'irrationaÍists," and thc
'rcsistcrs. "^o onchad to bc handÍcd carctuÍÍy any morc. Jhc angÍc
ot intcrcst was not sharp cnough to makc it worth thc troubÍc to
ot thcm was not compÍicatcd cnough to nccd to scck thcir activc
connivancc. Those who took forty years to become convinced that
Pasteur was interesting andwhotookthctroubÍctoundcrstandhim
onÍy whcn thcy wcrc sure that they would be able to carry on the
same activity rcgardcdthcsÍowncss otothcragcntstocoopcratcwith
anaÍysisto bcmadc. Jhcpoorwcrcthconcswhowcrcnowbcsicgcd
140 War and Peace of Microbes
thcsurgcons, thc midwivcs, thcprcIccts, thc mayors, thc disinIcction
scrviccs, thc tcachcrs, thc army doctors. Lach oI thcsc groups had
thcmicrobcs.ßutonccaÍÍicdto oncanothcr, cÍingingto aÍÍthc mcas-
urcs that thcy had takcn to makc thcir positions irrcvcrsibÍc, thcy
Jhough probabÍy corrcct, thcsc tcrms onÍy dcscribc its hnaÍ statc¹³•
Jhosc who spcak oI 'discipÍining" andoI 'domination" canbcgin
powcrhasno Íongcr to bc 'ncgotiatcd," whcrc aÍÍthatrcmains isto
convincc thoscatthc bottom oI thcÍaddcr. !n thc IºI0s,indccd, thc
triumphanthygicnistmovcmcntmusthavc sccmcdÍikc adiscipÍinary
authority. ßut to Íimit thc anaÍysis to this cocrcion is to undcrstand
powcrÍcss but aspircd to powcr. Òncc it had bccomc aÍÍicd with thc
Iorccs that mattcrcd, itwas thcn possibÍc to IoÍÍow its progrcss as it
thcm.Jhcrcisno shortagc oIsocioÍogiststo dothat. Jhcythinkthat
thcyarc dcnouncing powcr and ignorc thc dccadcs duringwhichthc
Íooking in such uncxpcctcdpÍaccs as thc Íaboratory.
Portrait of the Pasteurians as Solon of the Tropics
VhiÍc hygicnc was bcing incorporatcd into a vast burcaucracy and
havingno othcrprobÍcmsthanthat oIbcingimpÍcmcntcd,whiÍcthc
physicians wcrc occupyingthc tcrrain oI both thc hygicnists and thc
ncw mcdicaÍ scicnccs, without having to aÍtcr anything cxccpt thcir
prcstigc and thc ncw roÍc oI sanitary poÍicing, whosc aÍÍocation to
thcm thcy hnaÍÍy acccptcd, whiÍc thc !nstitut Ïastcur, making vast
point oI Iusion won carÍicr by Ïastcur and sccming morc insuÍatcd
in its Íaboratorics, a ncw movcmcnt on thc part oIthc Ïastcurians
was bcginning to rcstorc to thcm thc ccntraÍ roÍc that thcy had had
inthc rcdchnition oI socicty duringthc I880s and I8º0s.
Íooknotinthchomccountrybutinthc coÍonics. Jhccnormouspart
pÍaycdbytropicaÍmcdicinc inthcproduction oIthcAnnales de l'In
stitut Pasteur rcvcaÍcd most dircctÍy thc struggÍc bctwccn micropar-
Medicine at Last J4J
asitcs and macroparasitcs, and itwas thcrc that thc torccs thrown
into thc baÍancc otthc Ïastcurianº couÍd tip thc scaÍcsirrcvcrsibÍyin
what a pastcurizcd mcdicinc and socicty arc: 'lt is cÍcar that cvcn
morc than thc hcat, which is at most an unpÍcasanttactor, tcvcr and
dyscntcry arc thc 'gcncraÍs" that dctcnd hot countrics against our
incursions and prcvcnt ustromrcpÍacingthc aborigincsthatwchavc
to makc usc ot' ¦ßrauÍt: Iº08, p. 40Z) . '¹
JhcbÍacks,Íikcthc Îovas,wcrc immunizcd. Jhcwcstcrncrswcrc
not. Jhus thc nativcs had a supcriority that compcnsatcd tor thcir
naturaÍ intcriority. lt was thcrctorc ncccssary to rcvcrsc oncc morc
thc baÍancc ot torccs and to rcstorc to thc wcstcrncrs thcir naturaÍ
ot whitcs: 1hc parasitc. CaÍmcttc writcs: 'ls it unÍikcÍy that Atrica
sharc ithadnotbccn counting on thcirvictoryovcr maÍaria" ¦ Iº05,
p. 4I/) .
Jo situatc thc lnstitut Ïastcuri nthis gigantic struggÍc, wc do not
cvcn havc to bc crudc Narxists or to rcsort to tar-tctchcd cvidcncc.
ln an articÍc cntitÍcd 'Jhc 5cicntihc Nission otthc lnstitut Ïastcur
andthc CoÍoniaÍLxpansionot!rancc," CaÍmcttcwritcs again: 'ltis
nowthcturnotthcscicntihccxpÍorcrstocomcontothcstagc . . . thcir
cxpÍorcrs arc thc gcographcrs, cnginccrs, andnaturaÍists. Amongthc
thc coÍonics, thcir nativc coÍÍaborators, and thcir domcstic animaÍs
against thcir most tcarsomc, bccausc invisibÍc, cncmics" ¦ IºIZ, p.
Jhis work onthcparasitcshada dircctinIÍucncconcoÍonization,
ot cach parasitc madc it possibÍc to advancc turthcr. Jhc cxtcnt ot
thisshittintavor otthc whítcs can bcsccn guitc cÍcarÍy. ltis onc ot
thoscdramaticproots bcÍovcd otso many scicntists. Vithcach par-
asitccongucrcd, thc coÍumns otsoÍdicrs, missionarics, and coÍonists
bccamc visibÍc on thc map otAtrica and Asia, saiÍing up thc rivcrs
and invading thc pÍains, ¡ust as, thirty ycars bctorc, thc surgcons
tackÍcdncw organs with cach stcp in thc progrcss otascpsia: '5o it
is thanks to thcsc two scicntists ¦ßouct and Koubaud) that wc now
I4Z War and Peace of Microbes
knowthcvariousmodcs otpropagation otthc trypanosomiascsthat
bctwccn Guinca, thcUppcr^iÍc, Khodcsia, andAngoÍa" ¦CaÍmcttc:
by thc Ïastcurians. Koux, praising thc work ot Lavcran in IºI5,
cxcÍaims: 'Jhankstothcm ¦thcscicntists) , ÍandsthatmaÍariatorbadc
to thc Luropcans arc opcncd up to civiÍization. !t is thus that thc
workotascicntistmayhavc conscgucnccs tor mankindthat go wcÍÍ
bcyondthoscotthc conccptionsotourgrcatcststatcsmcn" ¦ IºI5, p.
4I0). Ycs, that`s it: thcy go beyond thosc otthc grcatcst statcsmcn,
bccausc instcad otpursuing poÍitics with poÍitics, thc scicntistswcrc
pursuingitwithother means. JhisuntorcsccabÍcsuppÍcmcntottorcc
gavc thcm that supcrÍativc poÍitics which madc it possibÍc to act on
thc poor, onthc inhabitants otNadagascar, onthc surgcons, onthc
Atricans, and on thc dairics.
ÏastcurwashaiÍcd as a morctamous congucrorthanthatotAus-
tcrÍitz. ^cvcrthcÍcss, whcn hc put up torthc 5cnatc, this grcatpoÍi-
tician was bcatcn hoÍÍow. Jhis outcomc says cvcrything. ÏoÍiticaÍ
Atrica with a dctcrmination to dominatc with powcr, and you wiÍÍ
bc dcad bctorc Íong and bc conhncd to thc coast. ßutinvadc it with
thc !nstitut Ïastcur, and you might rcaÍÍy dominatc it. Vhat was
untorcsccabÍcwas that thc tusion otthc ÏastcurianÍaboratory, trop-
icaÍ mcdicinc, and tropicaÍ socicty wouÍd bc much morc compÍctc
Jo bcgin with most ot thc discascs thcmscÍvcs wcrc ncw. CÍinicaÍ
mcdicinc was cithcr noncxistcnt or bcing practiccd onÍy by army
doctors, thc hrst to bccomc pastcurizcd. Jhc Ïastcurians, thcn, did
nothavc to dcaÍdcÍicatcÍywith a ccntury-oÍd cÍinicaÍ mcdicinc.
scascsthatcouÍdbcstudicdwcrc aÍÍdcrivcd trom
gcrms or parasitcs. Jhc othcr discascs, which in !rancc itscÍt madc
up ninc-tcnths ot thc work ot thc mcdicaÍ protcssion, wcrc simpÍy
ignorcd. Among thc coÍonists thc potcntiaÍ paticnts wcrc aÍÍ young
trcatcd thc nativcs, thcy did so cn massc, working on dcvastating
symptoms and spcctacuÍar discascs ¦pÍaguc, ycÍÍow tcvcr, Ícprosy,
sÍccping sickncss). !n such a situation thcrc couÍd bcno gucstion ot
a tamiÍy mcdicinc, inwhich thc paticntwascxpcctcdto pay.
Medicine at Last I4J
^o physicianwas prcparcd, by training, to bc conccrncdwithcnto-
moÍogy. 1hc Ïastcurians, busycrossingthctronticrsbctwccnthcdit-
tcrcnt scicnccs, couÍd, without rcguiring too much rctraining, add
ncw spccicsotactors tothc swarm otmicrobianagcnts: aÍÍthcgrcat
discovcrics otthis pcriod consistcd indccd in rcdiscovcring thc routc
bywhich aparasitc, an inscct, and a manwcrc Íinkcd. Jhc taÍk was
now cntircÍy ot hcas, mosguitos, tsctsc hics, and parasitoÍogy cx-
pandcd: thosc insccts wcrc thcmscÍvcs sub¡cct to parasitcs thatuscd
thcm inordcrto movcorrcproducc.!twasdccidcdÍy agrcatpcriod,
torthc rcadcrs ot 5crrcs ¦ Iº80/Iº8Z) and thc so-caÍÍcd sociaÍ actors
sccmcdto rivaÍiningcnuitythcso-caÍÍcd 'naturaÍ" actorsinÍcarning
how to ovcrÍap, movc, and bccomc contaminatcd.
Jhctourth charactcristic otthis ncw mcdicincwas thatthcrcwas
no othcr mcdicaÍ corps on thc spot, cxccpt thc witch doctors, who
wcrc aÍrcady hghting on a dittcrcnt tcrrain. ^othing was thcrc to
torcc thc Ïastcurians, ottcn army doctors by training, to Íimit thc
scopc ot thcir activitics. Vhcrcas at homc thcy wcrc prcccdcd by
innumcrabÍc protcssionaÍ groups intcrcstcd in hcaÍth and wcrc uÍti·
matcÍyswampcdbythcm,inthc coÍonics thcycouÍdconstructpubÍic
hcaÍth tromscratch.Jhisisnot amctaphor.Jhcyottcnprcccdcdthc
towns, which thcy couÍd thcrctorc buiÍd according to thc strictcst
rccommcndations othygicnc. At homc thcy had aÍways to takc into
account ccnturics otinsanitarincss and thc doubts otpubÍic author-
itics. !nthc tropics thc sccuÍararm otthc miÍitary authoritics was on
thcir sidc. !taÍÍ thc houscs had to bc rcbuiÍt, thcn thcy couÍd bc.
Jhc htth rcason tor thc succcss ot thc ncw mcdicinc was morc
organism and its attcnuation, thcn in thc manutacti¡rc otattcnuatcd
microbcs or scrums. ^ow thc parasitcs wcrc giants comparcd with
thc microbcs and did not aÍÍow thcmscÍvcs to bc grown, Íct aÍonc
attcnuatcdorinocuÍatcd. Jhis taiÍurc, ducto ancw rusc on thc part
otthc discascs mighthavccut short aÍÍthccttorts otthc Ïastcurians.
!nstcad, thosc cttorts wcrc shittcd. 5incc thc Ïastcurians couÍd not
conccntratc aÍÍ thcir attcntion on thc Íaboratory stagc and couÍd in-
tcrrupt thc parasitc onÍy by intcrrupting his Íitc cycÍc in Íitc-sizcd
conditions, thcy had to obtain pÍcnary powcrs and aÍways act on a
and Ícavc othcrs to appÍy it, thc Ïastcurians had to bc aÍÍowcd to
legislate tor thc cntircsociaÍ body.'¯NaÍaria orycÍÍowtcvcrwcrcto
bc dcstroycd not with vaccincs but by ordcring thc coÍonists and
144 War and Peace of Microbes
nativcsto buiÍdthcirhouscsdittcrcntÍy,to dryup stagnantponds, to
buiÍd waÍÍs ot dittcrcnt matcriaÍs, or to aÍtcr thcir daiÍy habits. Jhc
Ïastcurianworkcd bothinthc Íaboratory andonadministrativcrcg-
uÍations, buthisactions couÍd no Íongcrbcstudicdindistinctstagcs.
Îc ÍcgisÍatcd Íikc 5oÍon: 'lt has takcn thirty ycars tor scicncc to
discovcr thc naturc and origin otaÍÍ thc grcat cndcmic discascs that
sccmcd to havc stoppcd civiÍization at thc thrcshoÍd otthc tropicaÍ
countrics. AÍÍ thc probÍcms havc now bccn poscd, aÍÍ thc soÍutions
arc in sight. Jhc govcrnors ot our coÍonics think
as mcn otscicncc
andactasadministratorsto appÍythcdoctrincstowhichthc ccntury
otÏastcur has givcn birth. Òur corps otcoÍoniaÍhcaÍthiscontinuing
withits admirabÍcworkcvcrywhcrc" ¦^attan-Larricr. IºI5, p.J0J).
Jhcmcansbywhich administratorswcrccnabÍcdtoactasmcn ot
scicncc was, as aÍways, thc Íaboratorics, now cxtcndcd to aÍÍ thc
coÍonics, at Saigon, AÍgicrs, Junis, Jangicrs, ßrazzaviÍÍc, Dakar. !n
ot thc Union CoÍoniaÍc !ran�aisc and was attachcd to thc !nstitut
Ïastcur. !n Iº08 thc Bulletin de la Societe de Pathologie Exotique
was addcd to thc Annales: '!n thc !ar Last and in !rcnch Atrica,
¦CaÍmcttc. IºIZ, p. IJJ) .
Jhc roÍc O¸! both prcvcntivc mcdicinc and thc risc otthc standard
otÍiving inthc dccÍinc otthc grcat intcctious discascs in Luropc has
bccn a mattcr ot disputc. ßut thcrc has ncvcr bccn any doubt as to
!t it hadbccnpcccssary to makc coÍoniaÍ socicty onÍy with mastcrs
andsÍavcs, thcrcwouÍdncvcrhavc bccn any coÍoniaÍ socicty. !t had
parasitcsthatthcy transportcd. !t isnotcnoughto spcakshyÍyotthc
Iº/8). Vith onÍywhitcs and bÍacks,withonÍymiasmicrcgions and
hcaÍthyordangcrous cÍimatcs,thatCoÍoniaÍLcviathanwhich sprcad
across thc gÍobc couÍd ncvcr havc bccn buiÍt. ^or can thc coÍoniaÍ
mcdicinc ot thc Ïastcurians bc cxpÍaincd in tcrms ot 'socicty" and
its 'intcrcsts," sincc thc Ïastcurians wcrc capabÍc, oncc morc, ot
movingthcirprograms otrcscarchsuthcicntÍyto obtainarichcrdct-
Medicine at Last J45
JhcÏastcuriansrcshuttÍcd thc cards bydaringto changcprotoundÍy
thcÍist otactors pÍaying a roÍc inthc worÍd, bymoditying thc triaÍs
ot strcngth, and by inscrting thc Íaboratory into thc strangcst and
Ícast pr�dictabÍc pÍacc. Jhcir 'gcnius" Íay in that thcy twicc suc-
cccdcd, in two diücrcnt pcriods and two succcssivc poÍiticaÍ situa-
uons-hrstathomcon intcctiousdiscascsduringthc I880sandI8º0s,
thcninthc coÍonicsonthcparasiticaÍdiscascsbctorcIºI4-to rcor-
dcr socicty in a way that wcnt wcÍÍ bcyond thc 'conccptions ot our
scicncc, whoscappÍications aÍonc, outsidcthc Íaboratory, had apro-
digiousinIÍucncconvarious groups-somc opcnandmodcrn, which
adaptcd to thcm, othcrs cÍoscd and backward-Íooking, which rc-
maincd incrt. ßctorc such a succcssion otmystcrics-thc mystcry ot
thcinvcntionottacts, thc mystcry otthcir dittusion, thc mystcry ot
adequatio rei et intellectus, thc mystcryotrccognition-it was pos·
cvcnthc bcginningotan cxpÍanation. AÍÍ onc couÍd do was to kccp
or worsc stiÍÍ, to study nothing but thc 'symboÍic and cuÍturaÍ di-
mcnsion," thc bonc that thosc who havc givcn up thc good tarc ot
ßy mcans otthis ¡ourncythrough th
wcakcncd microbcs ! think
!havcshownthatthis vision otthc scicnccsandotsocictyisamyth,
our myth, thc onÍy onc to which wc vho think ourscÍvcs so cÍcvcr
subscribcin simpÍc taith.Jhcscicnccshavc nomorccontcntthanthc
sociaÍ groups. Jhosc two symmctric phantasmagoric bcings arc ob-
to pcrccivc both its dangcr and howto tacc up to it.
Òutotthc magicaÍ combatbctwccn '^apoÍcon" and 'Kutuzov,"
JoÍstoy crcatcd a battÍc ot crowds, which act somctimcs in grcat
crowds, acting somctimcs as crowds and somctimcs as charactcrs,
that thcy do, givc ordcrswhich arc misundcrstood, wrongÍy obcycd,
thc intormation comcs back bcÍatcd, distortcd, and bctraycd. Jhc
words that thc troops givc to what is happcning aÍso act as scÍt-
'victory" or 'cach man tor himscÍt," this or that part ot thc tront
whathas happcncd is cndÍcss. Jhc storics bcgun so warmÍy bctwccn
!abricc and thc cantccn girÍ at VatcrÍoo cnd coÍdÍy in thc archivcs
and manuaÍs, whcrc thcy continuc to inhucncc thc history otLuropc
and to stir crowds, cnthusiasms, and rcsponsibiÍitics. ^owhcrc can
Jhc samc gocs tor that war and pcacc ot thc n¡icrobcs, which !
havcrccountcdsoskctchiÍy, aswc wait tor somconcto turnup who
wiÍÍ dcscribc thc ^atasha ot rabics and thc Ïrincc Andrc otycÍÍow
tcvcr. ! had to givc back to thc scicnccs thc crowdothctcrogcncous
aÍÍics which makc up thcir troops and otwhich thcy arc mcrcÍy thc
much-dccoratcd high command whosc tunction is aÍways unccrtain.
! had to show that thcsc disrcputabÍc aÍÍics ¦hygicnists, drains, Agar
gcÍs, chickcns, tarms, insccts otaÍÍ kinds) wcrc an intcgraÍpartotso-
thctorm otvirus, bactcrium, orvaccinc. Lvcnitatthc hnaÍvotc,thc
ot mcdaÍs, thosc crowds count tor nothing, wc undcrstand nothing
otthc soÍidity ota tact itwc do nottakc into account thc unskiÍÍcd
troops. Don`t bcmistakcn. !, too, Íovc thc soÍidity ottacts,which is
why ! cannot bc contcnt with thosc cctopÍasms that sccm to hoat
around insidc scicntists` hcads. Jhcy havc no morc 'contcnt" than
thcyhavc sociaÍ 'cnvironmcnt.' !tisduringthc battÍc thatwc rcdis-
tributc thc triaÍs ot strcngth, arbitrariÍy and tcmporariÍy, somc as
'contcnt" and othcrs as 'contcxt."Likcthccryot'victory" or 'dc-
tcat,"thisisnota dcscriptionotwhatthcÏastcuriansdid, butawar
148 War and Peace of Microbes
cry,to drivc back anothcradvcrsary. !twasthatwarcrywhich!was
supposcd to acccpt as thc most iÍÍustrious cxampÍc ot rcason abovc
thctriaÍs ot strcngth, ot a rcaÍ scicntihc rcvoÍution, introduccd into
actuaÍÍywantcd that cry to rcmain indisputabÍc.
!n thc bcginning, ! cÍaimcd that ! couÍd discuss that indisputabÍc
scicncc and providc an cxpÍanation otbactcrioÍogy bccausc ! agrccd
ot torccs, and bccausc ! agrccd to toÍÍow it whcrcvcr it Ícd and to
whatcvcr groups it constitutcd, crossing as ohcn as ncccssary thc
sacrcd boundary bctwccn 'scicncc" and 'socicty.' Îavc ! avoidcd
thcthrcc taiÍurcsthat!indicatcd thcn: socioÍogicaÍrcductionism,thc
cÍision ot tcchnicaÍ contcnt, and thc usc ot tribaÍ words to cxpÍain
thosc words thcmscÍvcsr Îavc ! succccdcdr
mincnomorcbutaÍsono Ícssthananothcr. ¹ Vhat!cannotattributc
to thc Ïastcurians ! do not cÍaim to attributc to myscÍt. Ny proots
arcno morcirrctutabÍcthanthcirs, andno Ícss disputabÍc. !mustgo
Íooking tor tricnds and aÍÍics, intcrcst thcm, draw thcir attcntion to
what ! havc writtcn-hcrc cxtracts trom my sourccs, thcrc cuÍturcs
pÍaccd undcr thcir microscopcs-and rcpÍy in advancc to cnough
to makc a statcmcnt as probabÍc as thosc proposcd hcrc. Jo provc
that thcrc arc no irrctutabÍc proots is in no way contradictory.
!t rcadcrs considcr this comparison bctwccn thc tccbÍc torccs ot
thc socioÍogist and thc grand things otwhich ! spokc bÍasphcmous,
Íctthcmcomparcthc torccs, rcsourccs, andpÍaccstowhichaÍÍthcsc
is no csscntiaÍ dittcrcncc bctwccn thc human or sociaÍ scicnccs and
thc cxact or naturaÍ scicnccs, bccausc thcrc is no morc scicncc than
thcrc ¡s socicty. ! havc spokcn ot thc Ïastcurians as thcy spokc ot
thcirmicrobcs.Vc givc voicc to thosc whoscsupportisncccssaryto
us. !aithtuÍ transÍators or untaithtuÍ traduccrsr ^othing is known,
onÍy rcaÍizcdthrough a triaÍotstrcngth. ÏoÍitics isprobabÍythc bcst
modcÍthat wc havc to undcrstand this rcÍationship bctwccn torccs
or inhdcÍity, conviction or skcpticism-is thc angle otthc dircction
in which wc wish to go. Ny accountwiÍÍ sccm convincing onÍy itit
aLowsrcadcrsto go tastcrinthc dircctionthatthcywantcdto go in
!nrccomposingthc torccs thatmadcthosc scicntists grcat andthc
succcssivcmovcmcntsthat madc thcm admirabÍc, !havc notrcduccd
thcm. Òn thc contrary, ! havc givcn thcm back to thosc to whom
against microbcs, madc towns habitabÍc, gavc thc nctworks ot hy-
gcnists, surgcons, and army doctorsthc continuitymatthcyÍackcd.
Iikc·such acts otprowcss as much as ! Íikcthchardncss ottacts. !,
too,havc wcpt, ! admit, whcn rcadingthcir articÍcs, waÍking around
thc pÍaccs that thcy rcachcd, and sccing thc cncmicsthat thcywcak-
cncd. ßutwc arc no Íongcr going in thc samc dircction.
path otpcopÍc Íikc mc part. Vc no Íongcrhavc to hghtagainstmi-
crobcs, but againstthcmistortuncsotrcason-andthat,too, makcs
uswccp. Jhisiswhywcnccdothcrproots, othcr actors, othcrpaths,
and is why wc chaÍÍcngc thosc scicntists. ßccausc wc havc othcr in-
unacccptabÍc, intoÍcrabÍc, cvcn immoraÍ. Vc arc no Íongcr, aÍas, at
at thc cnd ot thc twcnticth, and a ma¡or sourcc ot pathoÍogy and
mortaÍity is rcason itscÍt-its works, its pomps, and its armamcnts.
Jhissituationwas untorcsccabÍc, aswas, in I8/0,thcpuÍÍuÍation ot
naturc, scicncc, and socicty by thc tcmporary tormation otthc mi-
crobc-whosc-viruÍcncc-onc-can-vary-in-mc-Íaboratory, wc must, to
survivc, rcdistributc onc morc timc what bcÍongs to naturc, thc sci-
cnccs, and socictics. Vhat ! oncc timidÍy caÍÍcd an 'anthropoÍogy"
or 'cthnography" otthcscicnccshasgraduaÍÍychangcditsmcaning.
orthc!rcnch cnginccrs. ßutin graduaÍÍy discovcringwhat madc up
thc ÍogcaÍ systcms and paths, anthropoÍogy hnaÍÍy coÍÍapscd. Òncc
thcshackÍcs thathadparaÍyzcd socictyand scicncc wcrc brokcn, wc
couÍd startto think again aboutthis mostancicntob¡cct-sub¡cct. thc
scicntihchistorics anda morcccntraÍroÍcthaninthcso-caÍÍcdsociaÍ
historics. !ndccd, as soon as wc stop rcducing thc scicnccs to a tcw
authoritics that stand in pÍacc ot thcm, what rcappcars is not onÍy
150 War and Peace of Microbes
ctcrnaÍÍy banishcd trom thc Critiguc. !t wc succccd in this cmanci-
scicncc, it wiÍÍ bc thc hncst rcsuÍt ot that pcrhaps cÍumsiÍy bcgun
'anthropoÍogy otthc scicnccs."
Îowcvcr, in ordcr to rcach that aim, wc havc to abandon many
intcrmcdiary bcÍicts: bcÍict in thc cxistcncc otthc modcrn worÍd, in
inits distinctiontrom knowÍcdgc. !havctowritc,notasasocioÍogist
or cvcn as a historian otthc scicnccs, but as a phiÍosophcr, and to
dchnc thosc triaÍs ot strcngth ot which ! havc madc such cxtcnsivc
usc in this history otmicrobcs.Jhatisthc aimotthc sccondpart ot
5tudics aboutscicncc and socicty, such as this onc on thc pastcuri-
zation ot!rancc, arc aÍways mctwith skcpticism. Critics insist that
thcrc is somcthing cÍsc in scicncc, somcthing that cscapcs sociaÍ cx-
it was not rootcd in any Íack ot cmpiricaÍ studics ¦though this may
pÍay somc roÍc) but stcmmcd trom much dccpcr phiÍosophicaÍ argu-
mcnts about knowÍcdgc and powcr. Knowing that cmpiricaÍ studics
ldccidcdto shitttromthc cmpiricaÍ and, as Dcscartcs adviscdus,to
spcndatcwhoursaycarpracticingphiÍosophy. lndoingso, lguickÍy
uncarthcd what appcarcdto mcto bc 3 tundamcntaÍ prcsupposition
otthosc who rc¡cct 'sociaÍ" cxpÍanations ot scicncc. Jhis isthc as-
sumptionthattorccis dittcrcnt inkindto rcason, right can ncvcr bc
rcduccd to might. AÍÍ thcorics ot knowÍcdgc arc bascd on this pos-
tuÍatc. 5o Íong as it is maintaincd, aÍÍ sociaÍ studics ot scicncc arc
thoughtto bc reductionist andarc hcÍdto ignorc thc most important
tcaturcs otscicn�. AÍthough, Íikc thc postuÍatcs about paraÍÍcÍ Íincs
in LucÍidcan gcomctry, it sccmcd absurdto dcnythisprcsupposition,
l dccidcd to scc how knowÍcdgc and powcr wouÍd Íook it no dis-
tinctionwcrcmadcbctwccntorccand rcason. VouÍdthcskytaÍÍon
our hcadsr VouÍdwc hnd ourscÍvcs unabÍc to do ¡usticc to scicnccr
VouÍdwcbc condoning immoraÍityr ÒrwouÍdwcbcÍcdtoward an
irreductionist picturc otscicncc and socictyr
rcscmbÍcs what happcncd to Kobinson Crusoc whcn hc hnaÍÍy mct
vcrsionotthcmythottcrcdtousbyJournicr ¦ Iº6//Iº/Z).Îis story
bÍows up thc powdcr magazinc and Kobinsonhnds himscÍtasnakcd
as hc was on his hrst day on thc isÍand. !or a momcnt hc thinks ot
hc dccidcs to toÍÍow !riday and discovcrs thatthcÍattcrÍivcs on an
cntircÍy dittcrcnt isÍand. Docs !riday Íivc Íikc a Íazy savagcr ^o, tor
savagcry and Íazincss cxist onÍy by contrast with thc ordcr imposcd
onthcisÍandby Crusoc. Crusocthinkshcknowsthcoriginotordcr:
thcßibÍc,timckccping, discipÍinc, Íandrcgistcrs, and accountbooks.
ßut!riday is Ícss ccrtain about what is strong andwhat is ordcrcd.
Crusoc thinks hc can distinguish bctwccn torcc and rcason. As thc
onÍybcingonhisisÍand, hcwccpstromÍoncÍincss, whiÍc!ridayhnds
otbrothcrs and chums, otwhom onÍy onc carrics thc namc otman.
up his sÍccvc. lnstcad ot bcginning my phiÍosophicaÍ tract with a
torc start trom !riday`s point ot vícw and sct things irrcduccd and
!or such a vicw l nccd, Íikc !riday, no a-priori idcas about what
makcs a torcc, tor it comcs in aÍÍ shapcs and sizcs. 5omc torccs arc
cviÍ and uscd to bc associatcd with magic and thc dcviÍ. Òthcrs arc
AristotcÍian and sccktorcaÍizcthc shapc thatÍicswithinthcm. Jhcrc
arc NaÍthusian orDarwinian torccs which aÍways want morcotthc
samc and wou!d invadc thc worÍd with thcir cxponcntiaÍ growth it
torccs which aÍways want thc samc thing and travcÍ aÍongthc samc
tra¡cctorysoÍongasthcy arcÍcttinpcacc. Jhcrc arc !rcudiantorccs
whichdo notknowwhatthcyÍusttor-dispÍacing, substituting, mc-
tamorphosing, orparaÍyzingthcmscÍvcsasthc nccdariscs.Jhcrcarc
^ictzschcan torccs, stubbornyctpÍastic,wiÍÍs otpowcr givingshapc
to thcmscÍvcs. And aÍÍ ot thcsc torccs togcthcr scck hcgcmony by
incrcasing, rcducing, or assimiÍating onc anothcr. Jhis is why thc
¡ungÍc with its tangÍc ottorccs grows across thc isÍand.
JotoÍÍow thìs argumcnt, wc shouÍd not dccìdc a·prìorì what thc
statc ot torccs wìÍÍ bc bctorchand or what wìÍÍ count as a torcc. !t
thc word 'torcc" appcars too mcchanìcaÍ or too bcÍÍìcosc, thcn wc
can taÍk ot wcakncss. !t ìs bccausc wc ìgnorc what wìÍÍ rcsìst and
whatwìÍÍnotrcsìstthatwchavc totouch andcrumbÍc, gropc, carcss,
wcakcn, or uncoìÍ Íìkc a sprìng. ßut sìncc wc aÍÍ pÍay wìth dìttcrcnt
hcÍds ottorcc and wcakncss, wc do not know thc statc ottorcc, and
thìs ìgnorancc may bc thc onÍy thìng wc havc ìn common.
Òncpcrson, tor ìnstancc, Íìkcs to pÍaywìth wounds. Îc cxccÍsìn
toÍÍowìng Íaccratìons to thc poìnt whcrc thcy rcsìst and uscs catgut
undcr thc mìcroscopc wìth aÍÍ thc skìÍÍ at hìs command to scw thc
cdgcs togcthcr. Anothcr pcrson Íìkcs thc ordcaÍ ot battÍc. Îc ncvcr
knows bctorchand ìtthc trontwìÍÍ wcakcn or gìvc way. Îc Íìkcs to
rcìntorcc ìt at a strokc by dìspatchìng trcsh troops. Îc Íìkcs to scc
hìs troops mcÍt awaybctorcthc guns andthcn scchowthcyrcgroup
ìn thc shcÍtcr ot a dìtch to changc thcìr wcakncss ìnto strcngth and
turnthc cncmy coÍumnìnto a scattcrìngrabbÍc. JhìswomanÍìkcs to
studythc tccÍìngs that shc sccs onthc taccs otthc chìÍdrcnwhom shc
trcats. 5hc Íìkcs to usc a word to soothc worrìcs, a cuddÍc to scttÍc
tcars thathavcgrìppcda mìnd. 5omctìmcsthc tcarìs so grcatthatìt
shc wìÍÍ gct angry or hìt thc chìÍd. Jhcn shc says a tcw words that
dìspcÍ thc anguìsh and turn ìt ìnto hts ot Íaughtcr. Jhìs ìs how shc
gìvcs scnsc to thc words 'rcsìst" or 'gìvcway."Jhìs ìs thc matcrìaÍ
trom whìch shc Ícarns thc mcanìng otthc word 'rcaÍìty.` 5omconc
cÍscmìghtÍìkcto manìpuÍatcscntcnccs: mountìngwords,asscmbÍìng
thcm, hoÍdìng thcm togcthcr, watchìng thcm acguìrc mcanìng trom
thcìr ordcr or Íosc mcanìngbccausc otamìspÍaccd word. Jhìs ìsthc
matcrìaÍ to whìch shc attachcs hcrscÍt, and shc Íìkcs nothìng morc
thanwhcnthc words startto knìtthcmscÍvcs togcthcrsothatìtìsno
ÍongcrpossìbÍcto addawordwìthoutrcsìstancc tromaÍÍthc othcrs.
Arc words torccs r Arc thcy capabÍc othghtìng, rcvoÍtìng, bctrayìng,
pÍayìng, or kìÍÍingr Ycs ìndccd, Íìkc aÍÍ matcrìaÍs, thcy may rcsìst or
gìvc way. !t ìs matcrìaÍs that dìvìdc us, not what wc do wìth thcm.
!t you tcÍÍ mc what you tccÍ whcn you wrcstÍc wìth thcm, ! wìÍÍ
rccognìzcyouas an aÍtcrcgo cvcnìtyourìntcrcsts arctotaÍÍytorcìgn
Ònc pcrson, tor cxampÍc, Íìkcs whìtc saucc ìn thc way that thc
othcr Íovcs scntcnccs. Îc Íìkcs to watch thc mìxturc ot IÍour and
pastc rcsuÍts, which IÍows in strips and can bc pourcd onto gratcd
chccsc to makc a saucc. Îc Íovcs thc cxcitcmcnt ot¡udgingwhcthcr
thc guantitics arc ¡ust right, whcthcr thc timc ot cooking is corrcct,
risky, and important as any othcrs. Jhc ncxt pcrson docs not Íikc
cooking, which hc hnds unintcrcsting. Norc than anything cÍsc hc
Íovcs to watch thc rcsistancc and thc tatc ot ccÍÍs in Agar gcÍs. Îc
Íikcs thcrapidmovcmcntwhcn hcsowsinvisibÍctraccswithapipcttc
in thc Ictri dishcs. AÍÍ his cmotions arc invcstcd in thc tuturc othis
on dishcs J5 and IZ, and his whoÍc carccr is attachcd to thc tcw
mutants abÍc to rcsist thc drcadtuÍ ordcaÍ to which thcy havc bccn
thc AngcÍ. Lvcrything cÍsc is unrcaÍ, sincc hc sccs othcrs manipuÍatc
mattcrthat hc docs not tccÍ himscÍt. Anothcr rcscarchcr tccÍs happy
onÍywhcnhc cantranstorm apcrtcctmachincthatsccmsimmutabÍc
tocvcryonccÍscinto adisordcrÍy associationottorccswithwhichhc
can pÍay around. Jhc wing ot thc aircratt is aÍways in tront ot thc
aiÍcron, but hc rcncgotiatcs thc obvious and movcs thc wing to thc
back. Îc spcnds ycars tcsting thc soÍidity otthc aÍÍianccs that makc
in paticncc or angcr. Anothcrpcrson cn¡oys onÍy thc gcntÍc tcar ot
bcingsÍappcd, hndinghimscÍttrappcd, orsuccccding. Îcmaywastc
wccks mapping thc contours ot a way to attain cach woman. Îc
5owc do notvaÍucthc samcmatcriaÍs,butwcÍikcto dothcsamc
thingswiththcm-that is,toÍcarnthcmcaningotstrong andwcak,
rcaÍandunrcaÍ, associatcd or dissociatcd. Vc argucconstantÍy with
onc anothcr about thc rcÍativc importancc ot thcsc matcriaÍs, thcir
signihcanccandthcir ordcrotprcccdcncc, butwctorgctthatthcyarc
thc same sizcandthatnothingismorccompÍcx,muÍtipÍc, rcaÍ,paÍp-
abÍc, or intcrcsting than anything cÍsc. Jhis matcriaÍism wiÍÍ causc
thcprctty matcriaÍisms otthc past to tadc. Viththcir Íaycrs otho-
mogcncous mattcr and torcc, thosc past matcriaÍisms wcrc so purc
that thcy bccamc aÍmostimmatcriaÍ.
^o,wc do not knowwhattorccsthcrcarc, northcir baÍancc.Vc
do notwantto rcducc anything to anything cÍsc. Vc wantinstcad,
Íikc!riday, to tccÍ thc isÍand and to cxpÍorcthc ¡ungÍc.
Jhis tcxt toÍÍowsoncpath,howcvcrbizarrcthc conscgucnccs and
contraryto custom. ¤hat happcns whcn nothing is rcduccd to any-
thing cÍscr Vhat happcns whcn wc suspcnd our knowÍcdgc otwhat
a torcc isr Vhat happcns whcn wc do not know how thcir way ot
rcÍatingto onc anothcr is changingr Vhat happcns whcnwc givcup
this burdcn, this passion, this indignation, this obscssion,this IÍamc,
this tury, this dazzÍing aim, this cxccss, this insanc dcsirc to rcducc
I. I. I ^othingis,byitscÍt,cithcrrcducibÍcorirrcducibÍctoanything
• ! wiÍÍ caÍÍ this thc 'principÍc ot irrcducibiÍity", but it is a princc
thatdocsnotgovcrnsinccthatwouÍdbcascÍt-contradiction ¦Z.6. I) .
I. I.2 JhcrcarconÍytriaÍsotstrcngth,otwcakncss.ÒrmorcsimpÍy,
thcrcarc onÍy triaÍs. Jhis is my point otdcparturc: avcrb, 'to try."
I. I.3 !tis bccausc nothing is, by itscÍt, rcducibÍc or irrcducibÍc to
anything cÍsc that thcrc arc onÍy triaÍs ¦ot strcngth, ot wcakncss) .
Vat is ncithcr rcducibÍc nor irrcducibÍc has to bc tcstcd, countcd,
and mcasurcd. Jhcrc is no othcr way.
I. I.4 Lvcrythingmaybcmadcto bcthcmcasurcotcvcrythingcÍsc.
I. I.5 Vatcvcr rcsists triaÍs isrcaÍ.
• Jhcvcrb 'rcsist" is not apriviÍcgcdword. !uscitto rcprcscntthc
From Weakness to Potency I5º
whoÍc coÍÍcction ot vcrbs and ad¡cctivcs, tooÍs and instrumcnts,
which togcthcr dchnc thc ways ot bcing rcaÍ. Vc couÍd cguaÍÍy
wcÍÍ say 'curdÍc", 'toÍd", 'obscurc", 'sharpcn", 'sÍidc." Jhcrc
arc dozcns otaÍtcrnativcs.
1. 1.5.1 JhcrcaÍisnotoncthingamongothcrs butrathcrgradicnts
1. 1.5.2 Jhcrcis no dittcrcnccbctwccnthc'rcaÍ" andthc 'unrcaÍ",
thcrcarc aÍÍ thc dittcrcnccs cxpcricnccd bctwccnthosc thatrcsisttor
Íong and thoscthat do not, thosc that rcsistcouragcousÍy and thosc
that do not, thosc that know how to aÍÍy or isoÍatc thcmscÍvcs and
thosc that do not.
1. 1.5.3 ^o torcc can, as itis ottcnput, 'knowrcaÍity," othcrthan
through thc dittcrcncc it crcatcs in rcsistingothcrs.
• !n thc oÍddays itwouÍdhavc bccn saidthattorccand knowÍcdgc
yicÍds to rcasons otthc strongcst. "
18.104.22.168 ^othingis known-onÍy rcaÍizcd.
1.1.6 A shapc is thc trontÍinc ota triaÍ otstrcngth that dc-torms,
itno Íongcr appcars to bc a triaÍ otstrcngth.
1. 1.7 Vhat is a torccr Vho is itr Vhat is it capabÍc otr !s it a
sub¡cct, tcxt, ob¡cct, cncrgy, or thingr Îow many torccs arc thcrcr
Vo is strong and who is wcakr !s this a battÍcr !s this a gamcr !s
this a markctr AÍÍ thcsc gucstions arc dchncd anddctormcdonÍy in
• !n pÍacc ot 'torcc" wc may taÍk ot'wcakncsscs", 'cntcÍcchics",
'monads", ormorcsimpÍy'actants. "
1.1.8 ^oactanti ssowcak thati tcannot cnÍist anothcr. Jhcn thc
two ¡ointogcthcr and bccomc onc tor athi1d actant, which thcy can
thcrctorc movc morc casiÍy. An cddy is tormcd, and it grows by
bccoming many othcrs.
160 ¿ Irreductions
• !s an actant csscncc or rcÍationr Vc cannot tcÍÍ without a triaÍ
¦ I. I.5.Z). JostopthcmscÍvcsbcingswcptaway,csscnccsmayrcÍatc
thcmscÍvcs to many aÍÍics, and rcÍations to many csscnccs�
1. 1.9 An actantcan gain strcngth onÍy byassociatingwith othcrs.
Jhus it spcaksinthcir namcs.Vhydon`tthcothcrs spcaktor thcm-
scÍvcsr ßccausc thcy arc mutc, bccausc thcy havc bccn siÍcnccd, bc-
intcrprcts thcm and spcaks in thcir pÍacc. ßut whor Vho spcaksr
Jhcm or itr Traditore-traduttore. ÒnccguaÍsscvcraÍ. !tcannotbc
dctcrmincd. !tthchdcÍityotthc actant is gucstioncd, it can dcmon-
stratc that it ¡ust rcpcats what thc othcrs wantcd it to say. !t ottcrs
an cxcgcsis on thc statc ot torccs, which cannot bc contcstcd cvcn
provisionaÍÍy without anothcr aÍÍiancc.
1.1.10 Actasyouwish, soÍong asthiscannotbccasiÍyundonc.As
a rcsuÍt ot thc actants` work, ccrtain things do not rcturn to thcir
originaÍ statc. A shapc is sct, Íikc a crcasc. !t can bc caÍÍcd a trap, a
word docs not mattcr so Íong as it dcsignatcs an asymmctry. Jhcn
you cannot act as you wish. Jhcrc arc winncrs and Íoscrs, thcrc arc
dircctions, and somc arc madc strongcr than othcrs.
1. 1. 11 Lvcrythingis stiÍÍat stakc. Îowcvcr, sinccmanypÍaycrsarc
trying to makc thc gamc irrcvcrsibÍc and doing cvcrything thcy can
to cnsurc that cvcrything is not cguaÍÍypossibÍc, thc gamc is ovcr.
• Îomagc to thc Masters of Go ¦Kawabata: Iº/Z) .
sÍightÍy morc durabÍc than itscÍt. Lvcn it this dittcrcncc is tiny, it is
cnoughto crcatc agradicnt otrcsistanccthat makcsthcmbothmorc
rcaÍ tor anothcr actant ¦ i. I.5) .
1.1.13 Vc cannot say that an actant toÍÍows ruÍcs, Íaws, or struc-
turcs, but ncithcr can wc say that it acts without thcsc. ßy Ícarning
trom what thc othcr actants do, it graduaÍÍy cÍaboratcs ruÍcs, Íaws,
and structurcs. Jhcn it sccks to makc thc othcrs pÍay by thcsc ruÍcs
whichit cÍaimstohavcÍcarncd, obscrvcd,or rcccivcd. !titwins,thcn
it vcrihcs thcm and has thcrcby appÍicd thcm.
• !s any givcn ordcr a convcntion, a sociaÍ construction, a Íaw ot
Frm Weakness to Potency 161
naturc, or a structurc otthc human mindr Vc cannot say. ßut in
Íovc as in war aÍÍ is tair in thc attcmpt to attach thc ruÍcs to
somcthingmorc durabÍc than thc momcntthatinspircdthcm.
1. 1. 14 ^othing is by itscÍt ordcrcd or disordcrcd, uniguc or muÍ-
tipÍc, homogcncous or hctcrogcncous, huid or incrt, human or in-
human, usctuÍ or uscÍcss. ^cvcr byitscÍt, but aÍways by othcrs.
• 5ptnozasatdttÍongago. sotar asshapes arcconccrncd, Íctusnot
bc anthropomorphtc. Lachwcakncssdistributcs a compÍctc rangc
otroÍcs. Dcpcnding on what it cxpccts trom thc othcrs, it distin-
guishcsthc stabÍc andthc ordcrcdtromthc shapcÍcss andthcmov-
ing. ßut sincc thc othcrs aÍÍ distributc roÍcs as wcÍÍ, a bcautituÍ
tangÍc cnsucs. 5tiÍÍ, itis comprchcnsibÍcwhy cntcÍcchics maymis-
1. 1.14.1 Òrdcr is cxtractcd nottrom disordcr but trom ordcrs.
• Vc aÍways makc thc samc mistakc. Vc distinguish bctwccn thc
barbarous andthc civiÍizcd, thcconstructcdandthcdissoÍvcd,thc
ordcrcd and thc disordcrcd. Vc arc aÍways Íamcnting dccadcncc
and thc dissoÍution otmoraÍs. ßad Íuck| AttiÍa spcaks Grcck and
Latin, punks drcss with thc samc carc as Coco ChancÍ, pÍaguc
thc gusto ota Ioppcr. ^omattcrhowtarwc go,
thcrc arc aÍways torms, within cach hsh thcrc arc ponds tuÍÍ ot
hsh. 5omc bcÍicvcthcmscÍvcsto bcthc moÍdswhiÍcothcrsarc thc
rawmatcriaÍ, but this isatormotcÍitism.ln ordcrto cnroÍÍatorcc
wc must conspirc with it. lt can ncvcr bc punchcd out Íikc shcct
mctaÍ or pourcd as in a cast.
1.1.15 'Lvcrything is ncccssary" and 'cvcrything is contingcnt"
mcan thc samc thing-that is nothing. Jhc words 'ncccssary" or
'contingcnt" gain mcaning onÍy whcn thcy arc uscd in thc hcat ot
thcmomcnt to dcscribc gradicnts otrcsistancc-that is, rcaÍity.
• JhcÍcngth ot CÍcopatra`s nosc is ncithcrsignihcant nor insignih·
cant. Circumstanccsdctcrminc, tor atimc, thcrcÍativcimportancc
bc aÍÍocatcd thcir roÍcs in advancc.
11. 16 VhatisthcsamcandwhatisdittcrcntrVhatiswithwhomr
Vhat is opposcdoraÍÍicdorintimatcrVhatcontinucs, stops,aban-
dons, hastcns, or attachcs itscÍtr Jhcsc arc common gucstions, ycs,
1.2.1 ^othing is, by itscÍt, thc samc as ordittcrcnttrom anything
cÍsc. Jhatis, thcrc arc no cguivaÍcnts, onÍy transÍations.
ln othcrwords, cvcrythinghappcns onÍy oncc, and at onc pÍacc.
lt thcrc arc idcntitics bctwccn actants, this is bccausc thcy havc
bccn constructcd at grcat cxpcnsc. ltthcrc arc cguivaÍcnccs, this is
bccauscthcy havc bccn buiÍt out otbits and picccs with much toiÍ
and swcat, and bccausc thcy arc maintaincd by torcc. lt thcrc arc
cxchangcs, thcsc arc aÍways uncguaÍ and cost a tortunc both to cs-
tabÍish and to maintain.
• l caÍÍ this thc 'principÍc otrcÍativity."|ustasitis not possibÍc tor
onc obscrvcrto communicatcwith anothcrmorcguickÍythanthc
spccd ot Íight, thc bcst that can bc donc bctwccn actants is to
transÍatc thc onc into thc othcr. Jhcrc is nothing bctwccn incom-
mcnsurabÍcandirrcducibÍctorccs. nocthcr, noinstantancousncss.
lt is truc that this principÍc ot rcÍativity aims to rccstabÍish thc
incguivaÍcncc ot actants,whcrcasthc othcr principÍcwas dcsigncd
to rcstorc thc cguivaÍcncc ot aÍÍ obscrvcrs. ln both, howcvcr, wc
havcto gct uscdto brcathing inthc abscncc otthccthcr. Jhcstutt
otwhich l spcakisrarc, dispcrscd, andmostÍycmpty. Gathcrings,
towns onthc map ot a country.
Interlude 1 : In a Pseudoautobiographical Style to Explain the
Aims of the Author
I taught at Gray in the French provinces for a year. At the end of the winter
of 1972, on the road from Dijon to Gray, I was forced to stop, brought to
my senses after an overdose of reductionism. A Christian loves a God who
is capable of reducing the world to himself because he created it. A Catholic
confnes the world to the history of the Roman salvation. An astronomer
looks for the origins of the universe by deducing its evoluton from the Big
Bang. A mathematician seeks axioms that imply all the others as corrolaries
and consequences. A philosopher hopes to fnd the radical foundation which
makes all the rest epiphenomenal. A Hegelian wishes to squeeze from events
something already inherent in them. A Kantian reduces things to grains of
dust and then reassembles them with synthetic a-priori judgments that are
as fecund as a mule. A French engineer attributes potency to calculations,
From Weakness to Potency I6J
though these come from the practice of an old-boy network. An administrator
never tires of looking for offcers, followers, and subjects. An intellectual
strives to make the "simple" practices and opinions of the vulgar explicit
and conscious. A son of the bourgeoisie sees the simple stages of an abstract
cycle of wealth in the vine growers, cellarmen, and bookkeepers. A Westerner
never tires of shrinking the evolution of species and empires to Cleopatra's
nose, Achilles' heel, and Nelson's blind eye. A writer tries to recreate daily
life and imitate nature. A painter is obsessed by the desire to render feelings
into colors. A follower of Roland Barthes tries to turn everything not only
into texts but into signifers alone. A man likes to use the term "he" in place
of humanity. A militant hopes that revolution will wrench the future from
the past. A philosopher sharpens the "epistemological break" to guillotine
those who have not yet "found the sure path of a science. " An alchemist
would like to hold the philosopher's stone in his hand.
To put everything into nothing, to deduce everything from almost nothing,
to put into hierarchies, to command and to obey, to be profound or superior,
to collect objects and force them into a tiny space, whether they be subjects,
signifers, classes, Gods, axioms-to have for companions, like those of my
caste, only the Dragon of Nothingness and the Dragon of Totality. Tired
and weary, suddenly I felt that everything was still left out. Christian, phi
losopher, intellectual, bourgeois, male, provincial, and French, I decided to
make space and allow the things which I spoke about the room that they
needed to "stand at arm's length." I knew nothing, then, of what I am writing
now but simply repeated to myself: "Nothing can be reduced to anything
else, nothing can be deduced from anything else, everything may be allied
to everything else." This was like an exorcism that defeated demons one by
one. It was a wintry sky, and a very blue. I no longer needed to prop it up
with a cosmology, put it in a picture, render it in writing, measure it in a
meteorological article, or place it on a Titan to prevent it falling on my head.
I added it to other skies in other places and reduced none of them to it, and
it to none of them. It "stood at arm's length," fed, and established itself
where it alone defned its place and its aims, neither knowable nor unknow
able. It and me, them and us, we mutually defned ourselves. And for the
frst time in my life I saw things unreduced and set free.
1.2.2 LntcÍcchics agrcc about nothingandcanagrcconcvcrything,
tor nothing is, in and otitscÍt, cithcr commcnsurabÍc or incommcn-
surabÍc. Vhatcvcr thc agrccmcnt, thcrc is aÍways somcthing upon
which disagrccmcnt maytccd.Vhatcvcrthc distancc,thcrcisaÍways
somcthing upon which an undcrstanding may bc buiÍt. Jo put it
anothcr way, cvcrything is ncgotiabÍc.
• '^cgotiation" is not a badword so Íong as it is undcrstoodthat
otthc dcÍcgatcs. Dccisions aÍso havc to bc madc on what thc nc-
what Íanguagc wiÍÍ bc spokcn, and how whcthcr wc havc bccn
a discussion,oragamcr Jhis isaÍso amattcrotdisputc, adisputc
that continucs untiÍ aÍÍ thc cntcÍcchics arc dchncd and havc thcm-
scÍvcs dchncd thc othcrs. !t is to dispÍay thcsc ncgotiations that !
nccd a !icÍd otthc CÍoth otGoÍd.
thcyhavc bccn mcasurcd against cach othcr.
• ! havc not yct said how many wc wcrc: 50 miÍÍion !rcnchmcn, a
singÍc ccosystcm, Z0 biÍÍion ncurons, thrcc or tour typcs otchar-
actcr, a singÍc 'mc, !, mc, !." Vc cannot count thc numbcr ot
torccs, dccidc thatthcrc is a uníguc substancc, two sociaÍ cÍasscs,
thrcc graccs, tourcÍcmcnts, scvcn dcadÍysins, ortwcÍvcapostÍcs.
Vccannotadd up a totaÍ. !n this pccuÍiar arithmctic no onc cvcr
subtracts.Vc add as many subtotaÍs asthcrcarc accountants.
22.214.171.124 Jhcrc arc ncithcr whoÍcs nor parts. ^cithcr is thcrc har-
mony, composition,intcgration,orsystcm ( 1. 1. 14) . Îow somcthing
hoÍds togcthcr is dctcrmincd onthc hcÍd otbattÍc, tor no onc agrccs
who shouÍd obcy andwho command, who shouÍd bcapartandwho
mony is poslcstabÍishcd ÍocaÍÍythrough tinkcring.
otits Íocation is a primordiaÍ struggÍc, during which many gct Íost.
Vc can onÍy saythat somc Íocatc and othcrs arc Íocatcd.
126.96.36.199 Jhough pÍaccs atc distant, irrcducibÍc, and unsummabÍc,
thcy arc ncvcrthcÍcssconstantÍybroughttogcthcr,unitcd, addcd up,
aÍigncd, and sub¡cctcd to ways and mcans. !t it wcrc not tor thcsc
ways and mcans, no pÍaccwouÍd Ícad to any othcr.
1.2.5 !orccsthat aÍÍythcmscÍvcs inthc courscotatriaÍ arc saidto
From Weakness to Potency 165
orbctrayingthcm. 'Jimc" ariscs atthc cnd otthis gamc, a gamc in
which most Íosc what thcy havc stakcd.
• !s this momcnt bctorc or is it attcrr !s it ovcrtakcn, prophctic,
obsoÍctc, dccadcnt, contcmporary, provisionaÍ, or ctcrnaÍr Jhis
cannot bc dctcrmincd in advancc. !t has to bc ncgotiatcd.
tocrcatcatait accompÍi onthcirownbchaÍtthat cannotbcrcvcrscd
¦ I. I. I0) . !n this waytimcpasscs.
188.8.131.52 Jimc docs not pass. Jimcsarcwhatarc at stakc bctwccn
torccs. Òt coursc, onc torcc may ovcrtakc thc othcrs, but this can
onÍybcÍocaÍandtcmporarybccauscpcrmancncc costs toomuch and
rcguircs too many aÍÍics.
184.108.40.206 !t is ottcn said in !rancc that 'thcrc arc" rcvoÍutions, but
thcsc arc onÍy actors which takc thcir capacity to makc timc and
history trom othcr actors and thcrcby pass thc othcrs by and makc
and thus upsctthc ordcr ottimcs oncc morc.
• Vho, thcn,isthcmostmodcrn-thc 5hah,Khomcini,thcNusÍim
trom anothcr agc, or ßani-5adr, thc Ircsidcnt, who has sought
rctugc in Iarisr ^o onc knows, and this is why thcy struggÍc so
much to makc thcir timc.
220.127.116.11 Jhc trccst ot aÍÍ dcmocracics rcigns bctwccn instants. ^o
instantcan crown, crippÍc, ¡ustity, rcpÍacc, orÍimitany othcr. Jhcrc
is no Íast momcnt to condcmn aÍÍ thosc that camc bctorc.
• Jimcs arc irrcducibÍc, and this is why 'dcath" has aÍways bccn
1.2.6 5pacc and timc do not tramc cntcÍcchics. JhcyonÍy bccomc
tramcworks otdcscriptiontor thoscactantsthathavcsubmittcd, Ío-
caÍÍyandprovisionaÍÍy, to thchcgcmonyotanothcr.
• Jhcrcisthcrctorc atimcottimcs and aspaccotspaccs, andsoon
unuÍcvc¡ghasbccnncgouatcd.ÎomagctoIcguy`sClo ¦ IºI4).
1.2.7 Lach cntcÍcchy dchncs: what Íics insidc itand what outsidc,
which othcr actors itwiÍÍ bcÍicvc whcn it dccidcswhat bcÍongs to it
and what docs not, and which kinds ot triaÍs it wiÍÍ usc to dccidc
whcthcror not to bcÍicvc thcsc rctcrccs.
• Lcibnizwasrightto saythatmonadshavcncithcr doorsnorwin-
dows, torthcyncvcr comc out otthcmscÍvcs. Îowcvcr, thcy arc
thc ncgotiators wiÍÍ bc, and about what thcy ought to do. As a
rcsuÍtthcycndup Íikcchimcras, unabÍctodctcrmincwhich isthc
door and which thc window, which is stagc Íctt and which stagc
18.104.22.168 Jhcrc is no cxtcrnaÍ rctcrcnt. Kctcrcnts arc aÍways intcrnaÍ
to thc torccs that usc thcm astouchstoncs.
1.2. 7.2 JhcprincipÍc otrcaÍityisothcr pcopÍc.
itscÍtbccauscthc rcaÍarcgradicntsotrcsistancc ¦ I. I.5) . An actant
thcrctorcncvcrstopsncgotiatingthcnumbcr,thc gradicnt, andthc
naturc ot thcsc dittcrcnccs, thc numbcr, thc authority, and thc
wcight ot thosc who ncgotiatc, thc numbcr, thc guaÍity, and thc
rcÍiabiÍity otthc touchstoncs that thcy wiÍÍ usc to ¡udgc thc crcd-
ibiÍity otthc rctcrccs.
and aÍÍ thc othcrs, it dccidcs which torccs it is composcd ot, it gcn-
cratcs its own timc, it dcsignatcs thosc who wiÍÍ bc its principÍc ot
to makc thcm acccpt thc vcrsion otitscÍtthat it wouÍd Íikc thcmto
• ^ictzschc caÍÍcdthis 'cvaÍuation," and Lcibniz 'cxprcssion."
1.2.9 ls it a torcc otwhich wc spcakr ls it a torcc that spcaksr ls
it an actormadc to spcak by anothcrr ls it an intcrprctation or thc
ob¡cct itscÍtr ls it a tcxt or a worÍdr Vc cannot tcÍÍ, bccausc this is
what wc struggÍc about, thc buiÍding ot a whoÍcword.
• Vhat thosc who usc hcrmcncutics, cxcgcsis, or scmiotics say ot
tcxts can bc said ot aÍÍ wcakncsscs. !or a Íong timc it has bccn
a mattcr tor intcrprctation. Vhy not acccpt that this is aÍso truc
caÍÍcd ob¡ccts thcmscÍvcsr
Frm Weakness to Potency 167
1.2. 10 ^othingcscapcsthcprimordiaÍtriaÍs.ßctorcncgotiationwc
havc no idca what kind ottriaÍs thcrc wiÍÍ bc-whcthcr thcy can bc
thought otas conIÍict, gamc, Íovc, history, cconomy, orÍitc.^cithcr
do wc know whcthcr thcy arc primordiaÍ or sccondary bctorc wc
cntcr thc arcna. !inaÍÍy, wc cannot tcÍÍ untiÍ thc cnd whcthcr thcy
havc bccn ncgotiatcd or wcrc rcccivcd at birth, ctchcd into thc skin
1.2. 11 Vc must not bcÍicvc in advancc that wc knowwhcthcrwc
arc taÍking about sub¡ccts or ob¡ccts, mcn or gods, animaÍs, atoms,
or tcxts. ! havc not yct said, tor this is prcciscÍy what is at stakc
bctwccn torccs: who spcaks, and otwhatr
• Vc shouÍd not hurry to dividc'naturc"trom'cuÍturc." 5caÍÍops
aÍso hnd that naturc is a harsh taskmastcr-hostiÍc, nourishing,
proIÍigatc-bccausc hsh, hshcrmcn, and thc rocks to which thcy
attach thcmscÍvcs havc cnds that dittcr trom thosc ot scaÍÍops.
or unsayabÍc, ncar or tar. Lvcrything is transÍatcd. Vhat couÍd bc
1.2. 13 !t cvcrything wc havc to writc about is to bc dcbatcd and
wc spcak ot triaÍs ot strcngth, wc must avoid using any tcrms that
h thc rcÍationship to thc advantagc ot onc sidc orthc othcr. !tthis
is not possibÍc, wc shouÍd at Ícast try to writc a tcxt that docs not
takc timc and spacc but providcs itinstcad.
1.3.1 AÍÍ cntcÌcchics may mcasurc and bc thc mcasurc otaÍÍ othcr
cntcÍcchics ¦ I . I . I4) . ^cvcrthcÍcss, ccrtain torccs constantÍy try to
mcasurc rathcr than bc mcasurcd and to transÍatc rathcr than bc
transÍatcd. Jhcywishtoactrathcrthanbcactcdupon. Jhcywishto
bc strongcr than thc othcrs.
• ! havc said 'ccrtain" rathcr than 'aÍÍ" as in ^ictzschc`s bcÍÍicosc
myth. Nost actants arc too tar apart or too indittcrcnt to risc to
that spcak in thcir namc, and too happy and proud to takc com-
want to incrcasc thcir strcngth. Jhc irrcducibÍc othcrs havc nccd
otpocts rathcrthan phiÍosophcrs.
1.3.2 Givcnthatactants arcincommcnsurabÍc andthatcachmakcs
aworÍd as Íargc and compÍctcasanyothcr, howdocsithappcnthat
onc bccomcs morc than anothcrr ßy cÍaiming to bc scvcraÍ, by as-
sociating ¦ I. I.º) .
1.3.3 5incc nothing is, in and ot itscÍt, cithcr cguivaÍcnt, or not
cguivaÍcnt ¦ I.2. I) , two torccs cannot associatc without misundcr-
• Lntcntc, arrangcmcnt, compromisc, ncgotiation, schcmc, combi-
dcrogatory and bcÍicvc that thcy conhict with morc pcrtcct torms
ot association taiÍ to undcrstand that it is ncvcr possibÍc to do
bcttcr, both bccausc thcrc is no cguivaÍcncc ¦2.2. I) and bccausc
¦ I. I. I) .
to bc in two statcs: dominating or dominatcd, acting on or actcd
but onÍy that onc torcc may act as it anothcr wcrc passivc and
obcdicnt ¦ I. I. I4). !or thc passívc torcc, ot coursc, thc point ot
obcdicncc,tcnthousandtorwishingto bcdominatcd, andahundrcd
thousand tor rcmaining siÍcnt-rcasons that arc ncvcr suspcctcd
by thosc who bcÍicvcthcy arc scrvcd.
thconcwho dchncsthc naturc otthc associationwithout bcing con-
tradictcd takcs controÍ.
• Vhcrctwo torccsprocÍaimthcmscÍvcstobcunitcd, onÍyoncspcaks,
whcrctwo torccs makcs an cxchangcthcy dccmto bc cguaÍ, onc
aÍwaysdctcrmincs who dchncsthcthingcxchangcd,howcguaÍity
is mcasurcd, andwhcnthc cxchangc has takcn pÍacc.
whatwas not. lnthis way scvcraÍ act as onc.
• 'An¬ing docs notgo."Discourscsand associations arcnotcguiv-
Frm Weakness to Potency 169
aÍcnt, bccausc aÍÍics and argumcnts arc cnÍistcdprcciscÍy so that
onc association wiÍÍ bc strongcr than anothcr. !t aÍÍ discoursc
appcarsto bccguivaÍcnt,itthcrcsccmto bc'Íanguagcgamcs"and
nothing morc, thcn somconc has bccn unconvincing. Jhis is thc
wcak point ot thc rcÍativists. Jhcy taÍk onÍy about torccs that arc
incapabÍc ot aÍÍying thcmscÍvcs with othcrs in ordcr to convincc
and win. ßy rcpcating 'anything gocs," thcy miss thc work that
gcncratcs incguivaÍcncc and asymmctry ¦ I. I. II) .
1. 3.7 5inccnothingi scommcnsurabÍcorincommcnsurabÍc ¦ I. 1.4),
thc morc activc is thc onc that is abÍc to dchnc thc mcchanisms ot
• Jhcrc arc acts otdittcrcntiation andidcntihcation, not dittcrcnccs
and idcntitics ¦ I. I. I6) . Jhc words 'samc" and 'othcr" arc thc
conscgucnccs ottriaÍs ot strcngth, dctcats andvictorics. Jhcy can-
notthcmscÍvcs dcscribc thcsc Íinks.
Interlude II: Showing What a Relief It Is
to Stop Reducing Things
Sometimes when the sun shines on the roughened concrete of the Salk In
stitute, we stop hurrying about and using up time. We sit on our doorstep
and let each branch of the tree of times unfold as far as it can. "Nothing is
by itself either reducible or irreducible to anything else," we say of all those
who reduce, destroy, replace, deduce, permutate, explain, cause, redeem,
restore, involve, determine, exchange, and buy. The tree of tiJles, the trees
of times, the forest of trees of times. Nothing is changed, yet the position of
each force, each entelechy, each actor changes so completely that we breathe
an air that we did not know we were missing before.
At these moments it is not the being as being that reveals itself. This
business of being as being has become quite incongruous now that each
entelechy has all the differences it needs to make a whole world for itself.
The tide has changed. Before there were only things that had been reduced
and things that did the reducing, with a residual being who rattled around
in our heads like a pea in a pod. Does this mean there is fusion, ataraxia,
or lack of differentiation? No, of course not! All the differences are there.
Not a single one is missing. And all the attempts to reduce, produce, simplify,
hierarchize, totalize, or destroy them are likewise there, like so many differ
ences which add themselves to those that they wished to suppress.
Nothing pardons, makes amends for, atones, balances, succeeds, subsumes,
concludes, summarizes, or submits to itself. And yet we should indeed speak
about a state of grace. Everything is light, for nothing has the power to bring
about the dizzy fall of anything else. Yes, freedom to go, freedom to do,
freedom to pass, freedom to let go. The seagull, far from its name, far from
its species, in its own world of air, sea, and favored fsh; the fsh far from
its shoals, far from the gull and its beak, innocent in the icy water; the water
that gathers together and shapes itself, mixed by the winds, knotted by the
currents, heaving and breaking itself onto the beach; the oceanographer
tured frogman who dives into the La Jolla submarine canyon; the managing
director who produces Jaws Uafter Jaws and sells fear of the deep and the
shadow of sharks-all are innocent. Innocent? No. Neither innocent nor
guilty. Marked, inscribed, unpardonable. When the tree of times is left to
grow, the act and its consequences are separated, and each becomes the
means and the end of the other. It is thus impossible to atone for a means
with an end, for a life of crime with a prayer, for a man with his children,
for a managing director with his bank account. No equivalences, no market.
We can neither die nor conquer death. There is room for the one who has
lived, for the day of her death, for the bullet of the killer, for the inquiry
that leads to no conclusion, for the memory of those who speak of the dead
friend. Nothing sums up those places, nothing explains them, nothing justifes
them. Innocent? No, since we have gone beyond the distinction between the
innocent and the guilty made by the erection of the scaffold. Incomprehen
sible? No, since we are beyond operations that establish, day after day, what
we understand and what we do not know. The bird, far from its name, flies
from the name that I give it, but continues to fly in treatises on zoology and
the poems of St. John Perse. The gull is in its sky, irreducible to ours, but
the language of the taxonomist is in the books, itself irreducible to any gull
ever dreamed of, living or dead.
1.4.1 Ccrtainactantstcstthcirstrcngthagainstothcrs, dccÍarcthcm
to bc passivc, and makc an aÍÍiancc with thcm thatthcythcmscÍvcs
scÍvcs stcp bystcp trom passivc actor to passivc actor.
• Vctooottcntcndtostartwith 'cxchangcs," 'cguaÍitics," andthc
'transtcr" otcguivaÍcnts. ßutwcncvcrtaÍk about thcprcÍiminary
workinwhich thcsc cguivaÍcnts arc torgcd. !t is as itwc spokc ot
roadnctworks butncvcr otciviÍcnginccring. Îowcvcr,thcrcis as
bctwccn drivingan automobiÍc and buiÍding a trccway.
1.4.2 Vhcnoncwcakncss cnÍistsothcrs, ittormsanctworksoÍong
as it is abÍc to rctain thc priviÍcgc otdchning thcir association.
• !n a nctwork ccrtainvcry distant points can hnd thcmscÍvcs con-
ncctcd, whiÍst othcrs that wcrc ncighbors arc tar rcmovcd trom
onc anothcr. Jhough cach actor is ÍocaÍ, it can movc trom pÍacc
From Weakness to Potency 171
topÍacc, at ÍcastasÍongasitisabÍcto ncgotiatc cguivaÍcnccs that
makc oncpÍaccthcsamcas anothcr.Anctworkcanthusbc'guitc
gcncraÍ"withoutcvcrhavingto pass througha'univcrsaÍ. "Îow-
cvcr rarchcd and convoÍutcd a nctwork may bc, it ncvcrthcÍcss
rcmains ÍocaÍ and circumscribcd, thin and tragiÍc, intcrspcrscd by
spacc. Vc shouÍd imaginc hÍamcntÍikc cntcÍcchics, spun out and
intcrwovcn with onc anothcr ¦ I.2./),which arc incapabÍc othar-
mony bccausc cach onc dchncs thc sizc, thc tcmpo, and thc or-
chcstration otthis harmony.
1.4.3 ßctwccnoncnctworkand anothcr, asbctwccnonctorccand
mcnsurabÍc. Jhus wc ncvcr cmcrgc trom a nctworkno mattcr how
• !t is tor this rcason that onc can bc Commandant at Auschwitz,
inAdcÍic Land, oncotKoch`s bacciÍi at Damicttc, andso on. Lach
nctwork makcs a whoÍc worÍd tor itscÍt, a worId whosc insidc is
ingcan cntcrthcgaÍÍcrics otsuchanctworkwithout bcingturncd
outsidc in. !t wc thought that tcrmitcs wcrc bcttcr phiÍosophcrs
than Lcibniz, wc couÍdcomparcanctworkto atcrmitcs`ncst-so
Íong as wc undcrstood that thcrc is no sun outsidc to darkcn its
gaÍÍcrics by contrast. !t wiÍÍ ncvcr bc possibÍc to scc morc cÍcarÍy,
it wiÍÍ ncvcr bc possibÍc to gct turthcr 'outsidc" than a tcrmitc,
no strongcr than a waÍÍ otcÍay.
!t canthcnmovcto pÍaccsthat donotbcÍongto itandtrcatthcmas
itthcywcrc its own.
• ! am wiÍÍingto taÍk about 'Íogic" ¦2.0.0), butonÍyitit is sccnas
is morc accuratc than to taÍk, Íikc LÍrich, ota GcncraÍ 5ccrctariat
tor Ïrccision andthc 5pirit ¦NusiÍ, ch. II6) .
1.4.5 LntcÍcchics wishingtobcstrongcr can bc saidto crcatc lines
of force. Jhcykccp othcrsinÍinc. JhcymakcthcmmorcprcdictabÍc.
• Jhctcrm 'Íinc ot torcc" is cvcn vagucr than 'nctwork," 'way,"
¨gaÍÍcry," or 'Íogic," butthisis hnc.JhcrcadcrshouÍdnotyctbc
abÍc to dccidc whcthcr ! am spcaking ot sociaÍ bcings, printcd
circuits, rcasons, machincs, thcatcrs, or habits. Jhis vagucncss is
cxactÍy thc cttcct ! am sccking, tor pcrhaps wc wiÍÍ ncvcr comc
across ob¡ccts cÍassihcd inthis way again.
1.4.6 As soon as oncactantmanagcsto pcrsuadc othcrsto taÍÍinto
Íinc,itthcrcbyincrcascs itsstrcngthand bccomcs strongcrthanthosc
it aÍigncd and convinccd ¦ I. 5. I) . Jhis gain can bc mcasurcd in a
to Íink ß to A than to C. A can aÍso bc said to command othcrs.
thcmscÍvcs to bccontroÍÍcdbyit. A can aÍso bc saidto translate thc
wishcs otothcrs. AÍthough thc othcrs might wish to say somcthing
not abÍc to put into words. A`s strcngth can aÍso bc mcasurcd by
sayingthatitcanbuy othcrs. AÍthoughinprincipÍcthcothcrs arcnot
worththcsamcamount¦ I.2. I) , Lor!agrcctobccguivaÍcnttowhat
A is rcady to pay. !inaÍÍy, it can bc said that A explains othcrs.
AÍthoughthc othcrscannotrcduccthcmscÍvcs to A,thcyagrcc to bc
its conscgucnccs, prcdicatcs, or appÍications ¦2.0.0).
aÍcnt mcans that A is strongcr than othcrs dcspitc thcir incommcn-
convinccs, and makcs thcm work.
• 5omctimcs this accumuÍation ot cguivaÍcnts or tokcns is caÍÍcd
tocrcatccguivaÍcnccs ¦ I.J./),bcndtorccs, andhoÍdthcminpÍacc
tor Íong cnough to bc scaÍcd and mcasurcd. ÒnÍy thcn was it
possibÍc to caÍcuÍatc a proht ¦ I.J. 5). Jhc markctpÍacc is onÍy a
conscgucnccotthccstabÍishmcntotnctworks, it docsnotcxpÍain
1.4.6. 1 AnabsoÍutctorccisoncthatwouÍdbccapabÍcotcxpÍaining
cvcrything, transÍatingcvcrything, producingcvcrything, buyingand
rcdccming cvcrything, and causing cvcrything to act. As a univcrsaÍ
Frm Weakness to Potency 173
movcrandhrstprincipÍctromwhich aÍÍ thc rcst couÍdbcgcncratcd.
• 5omc pcopÍc taÍk ot 'God" whcn thcy think otthc torcc that is
animatc and inanimatc, wishcs at thc bottomotits hcart, otshcp-
hcrdingusthrough thc dctoursotÏrovidcnccto thatwhichwcaÍÍ
dcsirc. ßccausc nothing is by itscÍt cithcr rcducibÍc or irrcducibÍc
¦ I. I. I), this absoÍutc torcc is aÍso thc absoÍutcÍy purc cxprcssion
otnothingncss. ßccausc otits vcrypurity it has aÍways tascinatcd
mystics, warÍords, captains otindustry, and schoÍars in scarch ot
hrst principÍcs. 'Òh", thcy aÍÍ say to thcmscÍvcs, 'grasp a singÍc
torcc ¦a town, a chaÍicc, an axiom, a bank), and thc rcst shaÍÍ bc
givcn unto us." Jo avoid thc panic ot rcduction, wc must aÍways
say: 'Vhat is Íctt is aÍÍ ¦!ntcrÍudc !-!!). Jhc grcat Ïan is dcad."
22.214.171.124 An actor cxpands whiÍc it can convincc othcrs thatit in-
andturthcrititcan sccurc actorswhohavcaÍrcadymadcthcmscÍvcs
cguivaÍcntto many othcrs.
• !t has ottcn bccn said that 'capitaÍism" was a radicaÍ novcÍty, an
cxtrcmc.As aÍways, thcDittcrcnccismystihcation.LikcGod,cap-
itaÍismdocsnotcxist. Jhcrc arc no cguivaÍcnts ¦ I.2. I) , thcschavc
to bc madc, and thcy arc cxpcnsivc, do not Ícad tar, and do not
ÍasttorvcryÍong.Vccan,atbcst,makccxtcndcdnctworks ¦I .4.2).
CapitaÍism is stiÍÍ marginaÍ cvcn today. 5oonpcopÍc wiÍÍ rcaÍizc
that it is univcrsaÍ onÍy in thc imagination otits cncmics and ad-
vocatcs ¦!ntcrÍudcV!).|ust as Koman CathoÍics bcÍicvc inthcuni-
thc purcst ot mysticaÍ drcams: that an absoÍutc cguivaÍcncc has
bccn achicvcd. Lvcn thc Unitcd 5tatcs, thc country ot truc capi-
taÍism, cannot tuÍÍy Íivc up to its idcaÍ. Dcspitc thc cttorts ot thc
tradc unions and thc cmpÍoycrs` associations, torccs swarm that
cannot bc madc cguivaÍcnt without work ¦J.0.0) . Ny homagc to
!crnand ßraudcÍ ¦ Iº85) , who docs not hidc this tact and shows
how Íong-distancc controÍ may bc achicvcd through tcnuous nct-
1.5.1 A torcc cannot bcgiven thosc torccs thatitarrays and con-
vinccs.ßy dchnition itcanonÍy borrow their support ¦ I.J.4) . Pcvcr-
thcÍcss, it wiÍÍ cÍaim what docs not bcÍong to it and wiÍÍ add thcir
torccsto its own in a ncw torm: inthis waypotency is bor.
• Vhcn an cntcÍcchy contains othcr cntcÍcchics which it docs not
contain, wc saythat it contains thcm 'potcntiaÍÍy. "Jhc origin ot
potcncyÍicsinthiscontusion:it is no longer possible to distinguish
an actor from the allies which make it strong. !rom thispoint on
wc bcginto say that an axiomimpÍics its dcmonstration 'in po-
tcntia", wc bcgin to say ota princcthathc is powcrtuÍ, thatthc
bcing-in-itscÍt contains �hc bcing tor itscÍt, though onÍy 'potcn-
tiaÍÍy." Vith potcncy in¡usticc aÍso bcgins, bccausc apart trom a
pp,tcw-princcs, principÍcs, origins, bankcrs, and dircctors-
othcr cntcÍcchics, that is, aÍÍ thc rcmaindcr, bccomc dctaiÍs, con-
scgucnccs, appÍications, toÍÍowcrs, scrvants, agcnts-in short, thc
rank and hÍc. Nonads arc born trcc ¦ I.2. 8), and cvcrywhcrc thcy
rcmain in chains.
torgctting thc cost ottransport.
• Ïroducing possibiÍitics is as costÍy, ÍocaÍ, and down to carth as
making spcciaÍ stccÍs or Íascrs. ÏossibiÍitics arc bought and soÍd
torcxampÍc, 'unrcaÍ."Jhcrcis no suchthingas atrccpossibiÍity.
Jhc hÍcsotconsuÍtants arc cxpcnsivc-askthoscwho wcntbank-
ruptbccauscthcyproduccdtoo manypossibiÍitics butdidnotscÍÍ
1.5.2 lt an actor contains many othcr in potcntia, it is imprcssivc
bccausc, cvcn whcn aÍonc, it is a crowd. Jhat is why it is abÍc to
cnroÍÍ othcr actors and borrow thcir support morc casiÍy.
• AÍthoughitstartsoutasabÍuttbycÍaimingto ownwhathasonÍy
bccnborrowcd,itbccomcsrcaÍ.5inccthcrcaÍiswhatrcsists¦ I. I.5) ,
whoi sabÍc to rcsistancntcÍcchy turncdcrowdr Ïowcrs, throncs,
grown nor movcd and arc as wcak as thosc who aÍÍow thcm to
1.5.3 Ïowcrisncvcrpossessed. Vccithcrhavcit'inpotcntia,"but
From Weakness to Potency 175
thcn wc do not have it, or wc havc it 'in actu", butthcnour aÍÍics
arc thc oncs that go into action.
cÍaim to criticizc. JhcycxpÍainthcmastcrs` actions intcrms otthc
might ot powcr, though this powcr is cthcacious onÍy as a rcsuÍt
ot compÍicitics, connivanccs, compromiscs, and mixturcs ¦J.4.0)
wþich arc not cxpÍaincd bypowcr. Jhc notion ot'powcr" is thc
dormitivc virtuc ot thc poppy which induccs somnoÍcncc in thc
critics at ¡ust thc momcnt whcn powcrÍcss princcs aÍÍy thcmscÍvcs
with othcrs who arc cguaÍÍy wcak in ordcr to bccomc strong.
1.5.4 Jhough thcy can ncithcr count nor sumthc othcrs up¸ tcwcr
and tcwcr torccs with nothing ot thcir own attributc thc potcncy ot
aÍÍ othcr powcrs to thcmscÍvcs. Jhis is thc rcductio ad absurdum ot
thc whoÍc to nothing. Ïrinccs who arc aÍmost nothing act as it thc
rcst, that is, cvcrything, wcrc no Íongcr anything.
2.1.1 AÍÍrcasoningis otthc samc torm: onc scntcncc toÍÍows an-
othcr. Jhcna third asscrtsthatthcsc arc idcnticaÍcvcnthoughthcy
do notrcscmbÍc onc anothcr.Jhcncctorththcsccondisuscd inpÍacc
ot thc hrst, and a htth athrms that thc sccond and thc tourth arc
idcnticaÍ, cvcn though. . . and so on, untiÍ onc scntcncc is displaced
whiÍcprctcndingnotto havcmovcd, andtranslated whiÍcprctcnding
to havc staycd taithtuÍ.
2.1.2 Jhcrchasncvcrbccnsuchathingasdcduction. Òncscntcncc
orpotcntiaÍÍy aÍrcady in thc hrst ¦ I. 5. I) .
• Jhoscwho taÍk otsynthctic a-priori ¡udgmcnts dcridc thc taithtuÍ
who bathc at Lourdcs. Îowcvcr, itisno Ícss bizarrcto cÍaim that
2.1.3 Vhcn many dittcrcnt scntcnccs havc bccn madc cguivaÍcnt,
thcy arc aÍÍ toÍdcd back into thc hrst, ot which it is said that this
'impÍics thcm aÍÍ." Jhis singÍc phrasc is thcn bandicd about, and it
is cÍaimcd that aÍÍ thc othcrs may bc cxtractcd trom it 'by purc
126.96.36.199 Jhosc who rcason in tront ot othcrs and cÍaim to cxtract
oncphrasctromanother arcatbcst¡uggÍcrs andatworst chcats. !or
thcy havc bccn practicing thcir tricks using rabbits and hats
borrowcd trom onÍookcrs.
188.8.131.52 ÒnÍytcachcrscÍaimto bcabÍcto cxtractoncscntcncctrom
thc concÍusion otthc argumcnt that thcy cÍaim to bc untoÍding. Òr-
ganizcd argumcnts Ícarncd slowly and in disorder arc untoÍdcd by
stagc bchind thc bÍackboard, thc tumuÍtuous history that Ícd this
proposition to bcÍinkcdto that onc. Jhcy ottcr thatwhich contains
inpotcntia aÍÍ thc conscgucnccs torthc worship otthcir pupiÍs, who
tcrvcntÍy bcÍicvc that thcy havc dcduccd onc thing trom anothcr.
• Vithout schooÍing, no onc wouÍd havc taith in this rcÍigion ot
Ethics arc 'aÍÍin" thc hrstproposition, orthatthcdcsscrtis con-
taincd in thc cntrcc. ßut schooÍboys havc aÍways bccn tascinatcd
by thc absoÍutc cribs ottcrcd by LapÍacc`s principÍc. to hoÍd aÍÍ
knowÍcdgc in thc paÍm ot our hand, having cxtractcd it trom thc
hccÍ ot our shoc.
thcm. Vhatr !t ! wcrc to attack one cÍcmcnt, wouÍd al thc othcrs
thcn comc crowding round mc without a momcnt`s hcsitationr Jhis
is so unÍikcÍy| Lvcry coÍÍcction otactants incÍudc thc Íazy, thc cow-
ardÍy, thc doubÍc agcnts, thc drcamcrs, thc indittcrcnt, and thc dis-
sidcnts. Ycs, ! grant you that thc tcar otsccing A, ß,orL comingto
thc rcscuc can so imprcss pcopÍc that thcy givc up. ßut itthcy hoÍd
on, thc odds arc that ß wiÍÍ bc dissociatcd, bccausc C comcs too
itwas trying to stop !`s bctrayaÍ.
• As is wcÍÍ known, an aÍÍianccbctwccnthc Íogicians and thc army
Ícd GcncraÍ 5tumm to put thc soÍidity ot structurcs to thc tcst in
thc Íibrary at Vicnna ¦NusiÍ, ch. 85) . Îc was vcry disappointcd.
!n Ïaris wc stiÍÍ bcÍicvc in structurcs bccausc wc takc carc not to
tcst thcir ÍoyaÍty.
ncvcrtirc otimputing gÍosscs to thc tcxt. Jhc tcxt isputtcd up with
aÍÍ thc gÍosscs that it has to contain 'in potcntia" in ordcr to ¡ustity
aÍÍ thcsc rcadings.
• JcxtsarcncvcrtaithtuÍto oncanomcr, butaÍways atsomcdistancc.
2.1.6 Vc say 'whocvcr controÍs thc causc, controÍs thc cttcct," as
it thc cttcct wcrc potcntiaÍÍy containcd within thc causc. Îowcvcr,
no word can causc anothcr. Vords follow onc anothcr in a story. !t
is onÍy Íatcrin thc story that onc charactcr is madcthc 'causc" and
anothcr thc 'conscgucncc." Jhc
nÍy cttcct to considcr is thc cttcct
upon thcpubÍic ot this or that aÍÍiancc otwords: 'Po, hc`s cx
ating," or 'it`s wcÍÍ writtcn," or again, 'vcry iÍÍuminating," 'vcry
convincing," 'how tuÍÍ othimscÍt," or 'what a borc."
2.1. 7 Jhcrc arc no thcorics. Jhcrc arc tcxts to which, Íikc Íazy
potcntatcs, wc rcspccttuÍÍy attributc things that thcy havc not donc,
intcrrcd, torcsccn, or causcd. Jhcorics arc ncvcr tound aÍonc, ¡ust as
to conncct and rcdircct.
184.108.40.206 !n thcory, thcorics cxist. !n practicc, thcy do not.
• Po onc has cvcr dcduccd aÍÍ ot gcomctry hom thc axioms and
postuÍatcs otLucÍid. ßut 'in thcory," thcy say, 'anyonc can any-
whcrc" dcrivc 'thc whoÍc ot" gcomctry 'at any timc" trom thc
axioms ot LucÍid 'aÍonc." !n practicc, this has never happened to
anyone. ßut no onc has cvcr nccdcd to draw this concÍusion, bc-
scorncd bccausc thcy arc said to bc incapabÍc ot
cvcn whcn tacts havc contradictcdthcm cvcry day tor c
220.127.116.11 Jhcrc is no mcluÍanguagc, onÍy intraÍanguagcs. !n othcr
to anothcr than buiÍd thc towcr otßabcÍ.
thc mastcrs whìch ìs too ìmpovcrìshcd cvcn to transÍatc what ìs
saìd ìn thc kìtchcn.
18.104.22.168 DaìÍy practìcc nccds no thcorìst to rcvcaÍ ìts 'undcrÍyìng
structurc." 'Conscìousncss" docs not undcrÍìc practìcc but ìs somc-
• Where arcthcunconscìousstructurcsotprìmìtìvcmyths r!nAtrìcar
!n ßrazìÍ r Po| Jhcy arcamongthc hÍìng cards ot Lóvì-5trauss`s
othcc. !tthcycxtcnd bcyondthc CoÍÍcgc dc !rancc at thcruc dcs
LcoÍcs, ìt ìs through hìs books and dìscìpÍcs. !tthcy arc tound ìn
ßahìa orLìbrcvìÍÍc, ìtìs bccausc thcy arc taught thcrc.
2.1.8 5otar astormìsconccrncd ¦Z. I. I), aÍÍargumcntsarc cguaÍÍy
good. ^ÍÍ that wc nccd ìs a scrìcs otscntcnccs, andthcnwc saythat
somcarcthcsamcandothcrsdìttcrcnt¦Z. J.Z). Jhcscntcnccsarcthcn
wovcn ìnto pÍaìts, trcsscs, garÍands, wrcathcs, and wcbs. Jhìs can
always bc donc, can`t ìtr As a rcsuÍt, certain movcs bccomc casìcr
and othcrs morc dìthcuÍt.
• Þo onc can cÍassìty argumcnts ìn tcrms otthcìrformal guaÍìtìcs.
2.1. 8. 1 PothìngìsbyìtscÍtcìthcrÍogìcaÍorìÍÍogìcaÍ.ApathaÍways
gocssomcwhcrc.AÍÍwcnccdto knowìswhcrcìtgocs andwhatkìnd
ottrathcìthas to carry. VhowouÍdbc so tooÍìsh as to caÍÍ trccways
'ÍogìcaÍ," roads 'ìÍÍogìcaÍ," and donkcy tracks 'absurd"r
22.214.171.124 Po sct ot scntcnccs ìs by ìtscÍt cìthcr consìstcnt or ìncon-
sìstcnt ¦ I. I. I4) , aÍÍ that wc nccd to knowìs who tcsts ìtwìthwhìch
aÍÍìcsandtorhowÍong.ConsìstcncyìstcÍt¦ I. I.Z) ,itìsnotadìpÍoma,
a mcdaÍ, or a tradcmark.
2. 1. 8.3 Jhc thrcad otargument ìs ncvcr straìght. Jhosc who taÍk
wovcn, or dcduccd. A buttcrtÍy IÍìcs ìn a straìghtcr Íìnc than a mìnd
mctìmcs, otcoursc, wovcnpattcrns mayrcprcscnt a
straìght Íìnc whìch ìs prctty to Íook at.)
ìsagrccmcnt bctwccn words. !t ìs a mattcr ot tastc and
tccÍìng, know-how and connoìsscurshìp, cÍass and status. Vc ìnsuÍt,
trown, pout, cÍcnch our hsts, cnthusc, spit, sigh, and drcam. Vho
• An anthropoÍogist otbody Íanguagc couÍd skctchthc thinking ot
a Cambridgc don or a VaÍÍ5trcctbankcr.
2.1.9 5incc thc amount ot idcntitics and dittcrcnccs thatwc havc
to share rcmains constant ¦2. 1. 8) , it is not within our powcr to bc
iÍÍogicaÍ orirrationaÍ ¦2. 1. 8. 1) . 5tiÍÍ,thcrc arcmanywaysto aÍÍocatc
'in conscgucnccs', 'bccausc ots', 'in contradiction withs,' and
'ncvcrthcÍcsscs.' Po onc is morc attcntivc to 'non scguiturs' than
Íogicians, wizards, or stagc managcrs. Vhcn cttccts arc to bc con-
trivcd,wc havc to chooscwhatwiÍÍ toÍÍowwhatwithgrcat carc.Vc
havc to dccidc whcn thc namc ot thc traitor or thc axiom wiÍÍ bc
madc known and prcparc tor thc cntry that wiÍÍ most imprcss thc
audicncc.Vchavcto dctcrmincunits ottimc andpÍacc, caus
principÍcs. Vc havcto choosctowritc 'morcgcomctrico' or 'morc
popuÍo' as wc tastctuÍÍy scÍcct thc thcorcms and asidcs. !n brict,
conviction dcpcnds on thc gcnrc wc choosc.
disagrccmcnts is constant, wc cannot cleanly scparatc mythicaÍ
hctions hom scicntihc accounts. Jhis can bc donc onÍy in a dirty
arc proots as rigorous as wintcr and thcrc arc springÍikc proots,
butthcyarc aÍÍ stiÍÍ proots.
2.1.10 5incc nothingis inhcrcntin anything cÍsc, thc diaÍccticis 3
tairy taÍc. Contradictionsarc ncgotiatcdÍikcthcrcst. Jhcy arc buiÍt,
2. 1. 11 !t magic is thc body otpracticcwhich givcs ccrtainwords
thcpotcncyto actupon 'things,' thcnthcworÍdotÍogic,dcduction,
andthcorymust bc caÍÍcd 'magicaÍ': butitis our magic.
• |ust as thc Grccks caÍÍcd thc hnc Íanguagcs otthc Ïarthians, thc
Abyssinians, or thc 5armatans 'barbaric,' so wc caÍÍ thc pcrtcct
argumcnts ¦2. 1. 8) ot thosc who bcÍicvc in othcr powcrs ot dcduc-
tion 'iÍÍogicaÍ. '
Sociologies 181 '
2.2. 1 Jo saysomcthingisto sayitin othcrwords. !nothcrwords,
it is to transÍatc.
• Awordis put in thcpÍacc otanothcrwhich it docs not rcscmbÍc.
Athirdword says thatthcy arc thc samc ¦2. I. I) . A is not A, but
ß and C. KomcisnoÍongcrin Komc, butin Crctc and amongthc
5axons. Jhis is caÍÍcd 'prcdication." That is to say, wc cannot
spcakpropcrÍy,movingtrommcsame tothcsame, butonÍyroughÍy,
moving trom thc samc to thc other.
2.2.2 5inccnothingis rcducibÍc orirrcducibÍcto anythingcÍsc¦ I. I. I)
and thcrc arc no cguivaÍcnccs ¦ I.2. I), cvcry pair otwords may bc
said to bc idcnticaÍ or to havc nothing in common. Jhus, thcrc arc
no cÍcarways otdistinguishingÍitcraÍ trom fgrative mcanings ¦Îcssc:
Iº/4). Lvcry group otwords may bcdirty, cxact, mctaphoricaÍ, aÍ-
ÍcgoricaÍ, tcchnicaÍ, corrcct, or tar-tctchcd.
2.2.3 Pothingis by itscÍt cithcr 'sayabÍc" or 'unsayabÍc." Lvcry-
thingis transÍatcd ¦ I. 2. I2). 5incc oncword aÍways Ícnds its scnscto
anomcrtrom which itncvcrthcÍcssdittcrs,itisno morc in ourpowcr
to spcak rightÍy or wrongÍy than to stop thc ÍittÍc miÍÍ otthc tairy
taÍc trom grinding out saÍt.
is saidbutitis somcthing cÍsc. Achoicc mustbcmadc. !taÍÍ dcpcnds
on thc distancc thatwc arc prcparcd to covcrandthc torccs thatwc
arc prcparcd to coax as wc try to makc words that arc inhnitcÍy
dispÍaccd,transmittcd, butwcarcncvcrundcrstoodwel. !tamcssagc
istransportcd, thcn itis transtormcd. Vc ncvcrgcta mcssagc thatis
2.3. 1 Vc ncvcr bcgin to taÍk i n words that trccÍy associatc, but
rathcr in ourmothcrtonguc ¦2.2.2).
• Òthcrs havc aÍrcadypÍaycdwith thc words whcnwc start taÍking
¦ I. I. I0). Ycar attcr ycar, ccntury attcrccntury, othcrs havc madc
ccrtain associations ot sounds, syÍÍabÍcs, phrascs, and argumcnts
possibÍcorimpossibÍc, corrcct orbarbaric,
ings is as soÍid as cÍaimcd ¦2. I.4), it wc wish to undo or rcmakc
to appropriatc aword, rcduccitsmcaningsandaÍÍianccs, andÍinkit
hrmÍy to thc scrvicc otanothcr.
to makc it hgurativc ¦2.2.2).
2.3.3 AÍÍ associations ot sounds, ot words, and ot scntcnccs arc
cguivaÍcnt ¦2. I . 8) , but sincc thcy associatc prcciscÍy sothat thcy arc
no longer cguivaÍcnttocachothcr¦ I.3.6),inthccndthcrcarcvictors
andvanguishcd,strongandwcak, scnscandnonscnsc, andtcrmsthat
arc ÍitcraÍ andmctaphoricaÍ.
2.3.4 Pothingis byitscÍtcithcrÍogicaÍ or iÍÍogicaÍ ¦ I.2. 8),butnot
cvcrything is cguaÍÍy convincing. Jhcrc is onÍy onc ruÍc: 'Anything
gocs", say anything as Íong as thosc bcing taÍkcd to arc convinccd.
Yousaythatto gcttromßto C,youhavcto passthrough D andLr
!tno othcrs raisc thcir voicc to suggcst othcr ways, thcn you havc
bccnconvincing.Jhcygo tromß to C aÍongthcsuggcstcdpathcvcn
thoughno oncwants to Ícavcß tor C andthcrcarc Íots otdittcrcnt
routcs that couÍd bc takcn. Jhosc you sought to convincc havc ac-
to do, for you will never do any better ¦ I.2. I) .
2.3.5 Vc can say anythingwcpÍcasc, and yct wc cannot. Assoon
as wc havc spokcn and raÍÍicd words, othcraÍÍianccs bccomc casicr
inghows, sÍopcs andpÍatcaus arc sooncrodcd. AÍÍianccs arc tormcd
amongwordsonthc hcÍdotbattÍc.Vc arcbcÍicvcd,wcarc dctcstcd,
wc arc hcÍpcd, wc arc bctraycd. Vc arc no Íongcr in controÍ otthc
gamc. 5omc mcanings arc suggcstcd, whiÍc othcrs arc takcn away,
wc arccommcntcdupon, dcduccd,undcrstood,orignorcd. Jhat`sit:
wc can no ÍongcrsaywhatcvcrwcpÍcasc.
2.4. 1 Îowdocsoncscricsotscntcnccsbccomcsomuch'strongcr"
thananothcrthat thc Íattcr bccomcs 'iÍÍogicaÍ," 'absurd," 'contra-
dìctory,"'hctìtìous,"or'chìÍdìsh"rLìkcatorcc¦ I .3.2),anargumcnt
bccomcs strongcr onÍy by makìng usc otwhatcvcr
omcsto hand. !n
thìs way wc can torcc an actant to contcss that thìs orthatscntcncc
ìs 'contradìctory" or 'absurd," untìÍ no onc can bc tound to makc
thc argumcnt ìÍÍogìcaÍ any Íongcr.
• Khctorìc cannot account tor thc torcc ota scgucncc otscntcnccs
bccausc, ìt ìt ìs caÍÍcd 'rhctorìc," thcn ìt ìs wcak and has aÍrcady
Íost ¦ I.J.6) . Logìc cannot account tor thc torcc, sìnccìt attrìbutcs
common to aÍÍ argumcnt ¦2. I.0). Jhcn agaìn, scmìotìcs rcma¡ns
ìnstcad otaÍso dcaÍìngwìth 'thìngs ìn thcmscÍvcs."
2.4.2 Vords arcncvcrtound aÍonc, nor surroundcd onÍy by othcr
words, thcy wouÍd bc ìnaudìbÍc.
• An actant can makc an aÍÍy out ot anythìng, sìncc nothìng ìs by
ìtscÍt cìthcr rcducìbÍc or ìrrcducìbÍc ¦ I. I. I) and sìncc thcrc ìs no
can thus cntcr ìnto partncrshìp wìth a mcanìng, a scqucncc ot
words, a statcmcnt, a ncuron, a gcsturc, a waÍÍ, a machìnc, a
tacc. . . anythìng, so Íong as dìttcrcnccs ìn rcsìstancc aÍÍow onc
torcc to bccomc morc durabÍc than anothcr. Vhcrc ìs ìt wrìttcn
that a word may assocìatc onÍy wìth othcr wordsr Lach tìmc thc
soÍìdìty ot a strìng ot words ìs tcstcd, wc arc mcasurìng thc at
tachment ot waÍÍs, ncurons, scntìmcnts, gcsturcs, hcarts, mìnds,
and waÍÍcts-that ìs, a hctcrogcnous muÍtìtudc oIaÍÍìcs, mcrccn-
arìcs, trìcnds, and courtcsans. ßut wc cannot stand thìs ìmpurìty
mìghtand thoscwhcn wc arc rìght.
¦ I. I.2) , thcy aÍso appcar ìn many othcr guìscs. At onc cxtrcmc
and bccomcthc how otnaturc. Jhcìr actìonìssopcacctuÍthatno
torccsccmstobccxcrcìscdataÍÍ¦ I. I. 6). Atthcothcrcxtrcmcthcrc
ìs bÍoodshcd-totaÍ wartarc wìthout rìtuaÍ, purposc, or prcpara-
tìon. Docs thìs cvcr happcnr 5omcwhcrc ìn bctwccn, ! supposc,
Íìcsthc grcat gamc otrhctorìc, whcrc thc strcngth otaword may
everthing else being equal, somconc spcaks and pcrsuadcs. Vc
!wantto taÍkabout aÍÍthcothcrcascsas wcÍÍ.
nordo notcxìst.Jhcyarc cntcÍcchìcsÍìkcaÍÍothcrs.JhcyscckaÍÍìcs
at thcìr convcnìcncc and buìÍd a whoÍc worÍd trom thcm wìth thc
samcprohìbìtìons andprìvìÍcgcs as othcr actants.
• ÒnÍy Íìnguìsts couÍd bcÍìcvc that words assocìatc onÍy wìth othcr
thcyhadìndctachìngwords trom thcìr aÍÍìcs whcn thcy ìnvcntcd
thcìr structurcs. Jhat words arc torccs Íìkc othcrs wìth thcìr own
Îavcyouncvcrtoughtwìth awordr !snotyourtonguchardcncd
bytaÍkìngrVhatcvcrrcsìstsìsrcaÍ ¦ I. I.5) . VhocouÍdbcÍìcvcthat
words havc a cÍcanhìstory otthcìr ownr
that arc goìng to pÍay thc roÍc ot 'words" and thosc that wìÍÍ pÍay
thc roÍc ot 'thìngs. " !t wc taÍk onÍy ot Íanguagcs and 'Íanguagc
roÍcs and costumcswcrc dìstrìbutcd.
• KcccntÍy thcrc has bccn a tcndcncy to prìvìÍcgc Íanguagc. !or a
Íong tìmc ìt was thought to bc transparcnt, to bc aÍonc among
actants ìn posscssìng ncìthcr dcnsìty nor vìoÍcncc. Jhcn doubts
bcgan to grow about ìts transparcncy. Îopc was c¿rcsscd that
thìs transparcncy mìght bc rcstorcd by cÍcanìng Íanguagc as wc
bccamc thc onÍy worthy task tor gcncratìons ot Kants and Vìtt-
gcnstcìns. Jhcn ìn thc httìcs ìt was rcaÍìzcd that Íanguagc was
opaguc, dcnsc, andhcavy. Jhìsdìscovcrydìdnot,howcvcr,mcan
that ìt Íost ìts prìvìÍcgcd status and was cguatcd wìth thc othcr
torccsthattransÍatcand arc transÍatcdbyìt. Ònthc contrary, thc
attcmpt was madc to rcducc aÍÍ othcr torccs to thc sìgnìhcr. Jhc
tcxtwasturncdìnto 'thc ob¡cct."Jhìs was 'thc swìngìng sìxtìcs,"
a tuss | Lvcrythìng that ìs saìd otthc sìgnìhcr ìs rìght, but ìt must
aÍsobcsaìdotcvcryothcrkìndotcntcÍcchy¦ I .2. º). Jhcrcìsnothìng
spccìaÍ aboutÍanguagc thataÍÍovs ì tto bcdìstìnguìshcd trom thc
rcst tor any Ícngth ot tìmc.
2.4.6 Jhc consìstcncy otan aÍÍìancc ìs rcvcaÍcd by thc numbcr ot
actors thatmustbc broughttogcthcr to scparatcìt¦Z. I. 8.2). Jhcrc-
word, a soÍìtarytcxt, or a sìgn ìnthc hcavcns actuaÍÍy comes from.
• Jhcy say, 'You cannot go trom ß to D wìthout passìng through
CorL." 'ltyou arcunccrtaìnaboutC, thcnyou arc aÍso ìndoubt
about ß and D. " 'lt you arc at ß, you must thcrctorc go to D."
Lach otthcsc statcmcnts can bc madc cguaÍÍy wcÍÍ ot a probÍcm
husbandandwìtc, orthcvarnìsh paìntcd ona ca
oc. Lach can bc
saìd otcvcry durabÍctorm ¦ I. I.6) .Jhìsìswhy'Íogc"ìsabranch
otpubÍìcworks ¦ I.4.4).Vccannomorcdrìvcacaronthcsubway
thanwc can doubt thc Íaws otPcwton. The reasons are the same
in each case: dìstant poìnts havc bccn Íìnkcd bypaths that wcrc
narrow at hrst and thcn wcrc broadcncd and propcrÍypavcd. ßy
now nothìng short ot rcvoÍutìon or naturaÍ catacÍysm wouÍd Ícad
thoscwho uscthcscpathsto suggcst anothcrroutctothc travcÍcr.
Ònc Íogìc ìs dcstroycd by anothcr, ìn thc way a buÍÍdozcr dcmo-
though ìtcanbc dangcrous ìtthc cxproprìatcd avcngcthcmscÍvcs.
cohcrcnt ¦Z. I. 8.0) torm nctworks whìch may bc vcry Íong and ìn-
commcnsurabÍc-unÍcss thcy choosc to takc cach othcr`s mcasurc.
'Can you doubt thc Íìnk that ¡oìns ß to Cr" 'Po, l can`t, unÍcss l
am rcady to Íosc my hcaÍth, my crcdìt, or my waÍÍct." 'Can you
Íooscnthc bonds that tìc D to Lr" 'Ycs, butonÍywìththcpowcr ot
goÍd, patìcncc, and angcr. "Jhcncccssaryandthccontìngcnt ¦ I. I. 5),
thcpossìbÍcandthcìmpossìbÍc,thchardandthcsott ¦ I. I. 6),thcrcaÍ
andthc unrcaÍ ¦ I . I5.Z)-thcyaÍÍ grow ìnthìsway.!or an cntcÍcchy
thcrc arc onÍy stronger and weaker ìntcractìons wìth whìch to makc
2.4.8 A scntcncc docs not hoÍdtogcthcr bccausc ìt ìs truc, but be
cause it holds together wcsaythatìtìs 'truc."VhatdocsìthoÍdon
that is morc soÍid than itscÍt. As a rcsuÍt, no onc can shakc it Íoosc
without shaking cvcrything cÍsc.
• Pothing morc, youthc rcÍigious, nothing Ícss, youthcrcÍativists.
2.5. 1 lt ís not good cnough to bc strongcst, thcy aÍso want to bc
bcst. lt is ncvcrcnoughto havcwon,thcyaÍsowantto bcright.
• 'Jhc strongcst rcason aÍways yicÍds to rcasons otthc strongcst. "
Jhcrcasoningotthcstrongcstis simpÍythcstrongcst. 'JhisworÍd
hcrc bcÍow" wouÍd bcvcry dittcrcnt itwcwcrc to takc awaythis
suppÍcmcnt, which docsnotcxist, itwcwcrc to rob thcvictors ot
aÍÍics which rcndcr it strong ¦ I.5. I). It wc wcrc to wcar a wcÍding
mask, wc couÍd starc at thc point ottusionwithoutbcingbÍindcd.
• l no Íongcr wish to mistakc thc IÍash ot a shicÍd tor thc tacc ot
gray-cycd Athcna, unÍcss lwishto do so.
2.5.3 Vc can avoid bcing intimidatcd by thosc who appropriatc
words and cÍaim to bc 'in powcr. "
bodics sÍcpt on straw. Po onc bcÍicvcs this now, but thc magic
continucs, thc magic otthosc who bcÍicvc thcy can travcÍ further
5abbath ot thc magicians ot rcason takcs pÍacc cvcry day ot thc
wcck, and this magichas not yctcncountcrcdits skcptics ¦4.0.0).
2.5.4 Vcncithcrthinknorrcason. Kathcr,wcwork ontragiÍc ma-
tcriaÍs-tcxs, inscriptions, traccs, or paints-with othcr pcopÍc. Jhcsc
matcriaÍs arc associatcd or dissociatcd by couragc and cttort, thcy
havc no mcaning, vaÍuc, or cohcrcncc outsidc thc narrow nctwork
that hoÍds thcm togcthcr tor a timc. CcrtainÍy wc can extend this
nctworkbyrccruiting othcr actors, andwc can aÍsostrengthen it by
cnroÍÍing morc durabÍc matcriaÍs. Îowcvcr, wc cannot abandon it
cvcn inour sÍccp.
staÍÍs, thcir coÍd storagc, thcirpasturcs, andthcirsÍaughtcrhouscs.
Pcxtdoor to thc butchcr-atthc groccr`s,torcxampÍc-thcrc is
phiÍosophy, accountancy, sociaÍsccurity, inshort aÍÍtradcs.Îow-
cvcr, certain trades cÍaim that thcy arc abÍc to cxtcnd thcmscÍvcs
potcntiaÍÍy or 'in thcory" bcyond thcnctworkswithinwhichthcy
practicc. Jhc butchcr wouÍd ncvcr cntcrtain thc idca ot rcducing
thcorcticaÍ physics to thc art ot butchcry, but thc psychoanaÍyst
cÍaims to bc abÍc to rcducc butchcry to thc murdcr otthc tathcr,
and cpistcmoÍogists happiÍy taÍk ot thc 'toundations otphysics."
Jhough aÍÍ nctworks arc thcsamc sizc, arrogancc isnotcguaÍÍy
2.5.5 Vc cannotÍibcratc ourscÍvcs tromthcpowcrIuIbymcansot
'thought," butwcwiÍÍÍibcratcourscÍvcstrompowcrwhcnwc havc
turncd 'thought" into work.
• JhccoÍÍoguiaÍ cxprcssionswcusctorthcworkotthought¦racking
our brains, bcnding our minds, chcwing ovcr idcas) arc not mct-
aphors butpointto thc work othands and bodics common to aÍÍ
tradcs. Vhy, thcn, is this tradc otthought, unÍikc aÍÍ othcrs, hcÍd
to bcnonmanuaÍ r ßccausc othcrwisc itwouÍdhavc to givc up thc
priviÍcgc otgoingoutsidcits nctworks. !twouÍdno Íongcrbc abÍc
to cxtcnd itscÍt abovc thc simpÍc practicc ottradcsmcn ¦2.I./.2).
Lvcryonc prcIcrs tosct intcÍÍcctuaÍs apart ¦cvcn itonÍy to ridicuÍc
thcm) rathcrthanto rccognizcthatthcywork.LvcnitthcbcÍicvcrs
do not bcncht thcmscÍvcs trom thcsc trcc trips, thcy do not wish
othcrs to bc dcprivcd otthcpriviÍcgcothovcringoutsidctimc and
2.5.6 Jhcrcis no dittcrcnccbctwccnthoscwhorcducc,onthconc
hand, and thosc who want a suppÍcmcnt otsouÍ, on thcothcr. 1hc
two groups arc thc samc. Vhcn thcy rcducc cvcrything to nothing,
thcy tccÍ that aÍÍ thc rcst cscapcs thcm. Jhcy thcrctorc scck to hoÍd
on to itwith 'symboÍs."
• Jhc symboÍic is thc magic otthosc who havc Íostthc worÍd. !tis
thc onÍy way thcy havc tound to maintain 'in addition" to 'ob-
¡cctivc things" thc 'spirituaÍ atmosphcrc" without which things
wouÍd 'onÍy" bc 'naturaL"
126.96.36.199 Vc can bc surc that whcncvcr thcy taÍk ot symboÍs, thcy
Ícaving homc, to Íink two actants with no trucks, no gas, and no
• Jhosc who spcak ot 'symboÍic" bchavior shouÍd bc studicd as
magicians.Jhcysaythat magicgraspsthrough wordswhatcannot
appÍicd to themselves. !ncapabÍc ot grasping torccs through thcir
triaÍs,thcyinvcnt 'symboÍs"which costand consumc nothing 'in
addition to rcaÍity."
188.8.131.52 5incc whatcvcr rcsists is rcaÍ, thcrc can bc no 'symboÍic"
toaddto'thcrcaÍ. "ßctorchavingsymboÍs'addcd "tothcm,actants
Íackcd nothing. Jhus, itwc stop rcducingthcm, this supcrtÍuous ad-
dition, inturn, bccomcs nothing.
• !t onÍy wc wcrc trccd trom thc symboÍic, thc 'rcaÍ" wouÍd bc
myths. Jhcy Ícad thcir Íivcs, and wc Ícad ours. !ndccd, our Íivcs
arc|onahs incvcry whaÍc, andwhaÍcs in cach otNcÍviÍÍc`stoÍios.
VhowiÍÍ stop thc transÍations othshing, occanography, diving-
otcvcrythingthatwc andthc hsh usc to takcthc mcasurc otcach
othcrrJhatpcrsonisnotyctborn. ¦!ntcrÍudc!V) .Jhoscwhowish
to separate thc 'symboÍic" hshtrom its 'rcaÍ" countcrpart shouÍd
thcmscÍvcs bc scparatcd and conhncd ¦J.0.0).
184.108.40.206 Vcdo,notsuttcr tromthc ÍackotasouÍ.Vcsuttcr, onthc
contrary, hom too many troubÍcd souÍs thathavcncvcr bccn ottcrcd
ghosts. !wantto cxorciscthcsc souÍs andpcrsuadcthcm to Ícavc us
2.6.1 AÍÍrcscarchontoundationsandoriginsis supcrhciaÍ, sinccit
crs.Jhis isimpossibÍc. !twcwishto bcprotound,wchavcto follow
whcrcvcr thcy may go, and Íist thcir aÍÍics, howcvcr numcrous and
vuÍgar thcsc maybc.
proudotit.Jhcyarc aÍwaystryingto rcduccthcnumbcrottorccs
to onc torcc trom which thc othcrs can bc dcrivcd. Jhc grcatcr
thcir succcss, thc morc insignihcantthc choscn onc bccomcs. Jhc
mostprotoundis also thc most supcrhciaÍ. Vc might¡ ust as wcÍÍ
trcatQuccnLÍizabcth asthcUnitcdKingdom, orthcopcningscn-
tcncc ¦ I. I. I) asthc prcscnttcxt.
2.6.2 Jhosc who try to posscss whatthcy do not havc ¦ I.5. I) , to
bc whcrc thcy arc not, and to rcducc what docs not rcducc arc un-
tortunatc, bccausc thcy posscss potcncy onÍy potcntiaÍÍy and havc
thcory onÍy in thcory.
• Vc arc now abÍc to arrivc at a moraÍ ot a Ícss provisionaÍ kind
¦ I. Z. IJ) . Vc wiÍÍ not try to pursuc origins, to rcducc practiccs to
thcorics, thcorics to Íanguagcs, Íanguagcs to mctaÍanguagcs, and
so on in thc way dcscribcd in !ntcrÍudc !. Vc wiÍÍ work with no
morc priviÍcgc or rcsponsibiÍity than anyonc cÍsc, within narrow
nctworks that cannot bc rcduccd to othcrs. Likccvcryonc cÍsc,wc
'Jhisisnotavcry tar-rcaching moraÍ, isitr" Quitcso: it does not
get us very far. !trctuscstogoinspirittopÍaccswhcrcitisabscnt.
Vhcn it movcs, it pays its ducs. Vc wiÍÍ no Íongcrtry to imitatc
task ot undcrstanding, cstabÍishing, ¡ustitying, and cxpÍaining
2.6.3 ßccausc thcrc is no ÍitcraÍ or hgurativcmcaning ¦Z.Z.Z), no
singÍc usc ot a mctaphor can dominatc thc othcr uscs. Vithoutpro-
prictythcrc isno impropricty. Lachword is accuratc and dcsignatcs
cxactÍy thc nctworks that it traccs, digs, and travcÍs ovcr. 5incc no
wordrcignsovcrthcothcrs,wc arctrcctouscaÍÍmctaphors. Vcdo
nothavcto tcarthatoncmcaningis'truc" and anothcr'mctaphor-
icaÍ." Jhcrc is dcmocracy, too, amongwords. Vc nccd this trccdom
2.6.4 Îow wiÍÍ wc dchnc this trccdom to go tromonc domain to
anothcr, this scaÍing up otthc nctworks, this survcyingr ÏhiÍosophy
as thosc who havc no spccihc hcÍd,tcrritory, or domain. Òtcoursc,
wc candowithoutcithcrphiÍosophyorphiÍosophcrs, butthcnthcrc
might bc no way to go trom onc provincc to thc ncxt, trom onc
nctwork to anothcr.
thatthcrcarctorccs,onthconchand,andother things, onthcothcr.
Jhìsamountsto dcnyìngthchrstprìncìpÍc ¦ I. I. I) . !nthìsway'rcaÍ"
cguìvaÍcnccs, 'rcaÍ"cxchangcs,and'rcaÍ"csscnccsarcobtaìncd, and
thc worÍd ìs ordcrcd by startìng trom mastcrs ¦prìnccs, prìncìpÍcs,
rcprcscntatìvcs, orìgìns, toundatìons, causcs, capìtaÍ) anddcsccndìng
towardmoscwhoarcdomìnatcd¦ìntcrrcd,cxpÍaìncd, dcduccd, bough¡
produccd, ¡ustìhcd, causcd) .5ccond,wccanuphoÍdthchrstprìncìpÍc
rìghtto thc cnd. !twc do so, thcrc arc no Íongcr any cguìvaÍcnccs,
ot domìnatìon ìs madc pubÍìc.
• Jhc hrst way ot workìng ìs rcÍìgìous ìn csscncc, monothcìst by
ncccssìty, and ÎcgcÍìanbymcthod. !trcduccsthc ÍocaÍtothc unì-
vcrsaÍ and cstabÍìshcs potcncy. !t abhors magìc but noncthcÍcss
cmuÍatcs ìts mcthods. Jhc sccond Way ot workìng rcndcrs ÍocaÍ
aÍÍ magìcs, our ownìncÍudcd.
Interlude III: Escaping from a Contradiction That,
in the Author's Opinion, Might Have Perplexed the Reader
How can we say that nothing is by itself eitherreducible or irreducible ( 1. 1. 1)
and then claim that there are nothing but trials of strength (1. 1.2) ? It is
important to understand this paradox. If one thing can contain another-·
potentially, ideally, implicitly-there is truly something more than trials of
strength: a supplement of soul, a living god, crowned princes or theories in
charge of the world. Certain places become so much bigger than others that
they include all the others "implicitly." They become impressive, majestic,
sacred, intoxicating, dazzling, and thus bring with them all the impediments
of terror. Those who believe it is possible to reduce one actor to another
suddenly fnd themselves enriched by something that comes from beyond:
beyond the facts, the law; beyond the world, the other world; beyond prac
tice, theory; beyond the real, the possible, the objective, the symbolic. This
is why reductionism and religion always go hand in hand: religious religion,
political religion, scientifc religion.
Of course, it is exciting to believe that one actor may contain the others
because we start to believe that we "know" something, that there are equiv
alences, that there are deductions, that there is a master, that there is law
and order. We have two irons in the (re, the real and the possible. In this
way we become invincible, since we are able to make an attack "en double,"
like the witches of the Ivory Coast. A "trial of strength" can never be un
favorable to us, since even when we lose, we may still be right.
If we adopt the opposite principle and try to see how far we can get by
denying the distincton, then we have to claim, by contrast, that nothing
reduces to anything else. Yet, it will be said, things are linked together; they
form lumps, bodies, machines, and groups. Of course this cannot be denied.
But what kind of ties hold them together? Since there are no "natural"
equivalences, these can be of only one kind: groping, testing, translating. As
soon as the principle of irreducibility is accepted, it . becomes necessary to
admit this frst reduction: that there is nothing mOI8 th�n trials of weakness.
The distance between actors is never removed; neither is the distance between
words. And if there are equivalences, then they have to be seen as problems,
miracles, tasks, and costly results.
,Thus there is no paradox. There are two consistent ways of talking. One
permits reduction and builds the world by starting from potency. The other
does not allow tis initial reduction and tus manifests the work that is
needed to dominate. The frst approach is reductionist and religious; the
second is irreductionist and irreligious.
Why should the second be preferred to the frst? I still do not know, but
I do not like power that burns far beyond the networks from which it comes.
I do not like the verbiage, the exaggeration, and the saturation that leads to
shortage of time and lack of breathing space. I would prefer to see the thin
incandescent flament in all these flames, as if through the welder's mask. I
want to reduce the reductionists, escort the powers back to the galleries and
networks from where they came. I want to locate them in the gestures and
the works that they use to extend themselves. I wantto avoid granting them
the potency that lets them dominate even in places they have never been.
If we choose the principle of reduction, it gives us plain, clean surfaces.
But since there are many surfaces, they have to be ordered, and since they
each occupy the whole of space, then they fght one another. It is necessary
to survey their boundaries. Always summing up, reducing, limiting, appro
priating, putting in hierarchies, repressing-what kind of life is that? It is
suffocating. To escape, we have to eliminate almost everything, and whatever
is left grows each day, like the barbarian hordes besieging Rome.
If we choose the principle of irreduction, we discover intertwined networks
which sometimes join together but may interweave with each other without
touching for centuries. There is enough room. There is empty space. Lots of
empty space. There is no longer an above and a below. Nothing can be placed
in a hierarchy. The activity of those who rank is made transparent and
occupies little space. There is no more flling in between networks, and the
work of those who do this padding takes up little room. There is no more
totality, so nothing is left over. It seems to me that life is better this way.
3. 1. 1 Îow do things standr Vhat arc thc actants ot which wc
thcscgucstionsthcmscÍvcs.Jo choosc an answcristostrcngthcnonc
• Lvcryactantmakcs awhoÍcworÍdtor itscÍt ¦ I.2. 8). Vho arc wcr
¦ I. I.6).
3. 1.2 !don`tknowhowthings stand. !knowncithcrwho!amnor
what ! want, but others say thcy know on my bchaÍt, othcrs who
mc. Vhcthcr l am a storm, a rat, a rock, a Íakc, a Íion, a chiÍd, a
workcr,a gcnc, a sÍavc, thc unconscious, or avirus,thcywhispcrto
mc, thcy suggcst, thcy imposc an intcrprctation otwhat ! am and
whatl couÍd bc.
Interlude IV: Explaining Why Things-in-Themselves Get by
Very Well without Any Help from Us
Things-in-themselves? But they're fne, thank you very much. And how are
you? You complain about things that have not been honored by your vision?
You feel that these things are lacking the illumination of your consciousness?
But if you missed the galloping freedom of the zebras in the savannah this
morning, then so much the worse for you; the zebras will not be sorry that
you were not there, and in any case you would have tamed, killed, photo
graphed, or studied them. Things in themselves lack nothing, just as Africa
did not lack whites before their arrival. However, it is possible to force those
who did perfectly well without you to come to regret that you are not there.
Once things are reduced to nothing, they beg you to be conscious of them
and ask you to colonize them. Their life hangs by no more than a thread,
the thread of your attention. The spectacle of the world begins to tur around
your consciousness. But who creates this spectacle? Crusoe on his island,
Adam in his garden. How fortunate it is that you are there as saviors and
name givers. Without you "the world," as you put it, would be reduced to
nothing. You are the Zorros, the Tarzans, the Kants, the guardians of the
widowed, and the protectors of orphaned things.
It is certainly hard work to have to extract the world from nothing every
morning, aided only by the biceps and the transcendental ego. Crusoe gets
bored and lonely on his island because of this drudgery. And at night, when
you sleep, what becomes of the things that you have abandoned? You soon
lose yourself in the jungle of the unconscious. Thus are your heroes doubly
unhappy. Things-in-themselves muted and empty, expect from them their
daily bread, while at night your heroes are powerless supermen who devour
their own liver and leave their tasks undone.
What would happen if we were to assume instead that things left to
themselves are lacking nothing? For instance, what about this tree, that others
call Wellingtonia? Its strength and its opinions extend only as far as it does
itself. It flls its world with gods of bark and demons of sap. If it is lacking
anything, then it is most unlikely to be you. You who cut down woods are
not the god of trees. The tree shows what it can do, and as it does so, it
discovers what all the forces it welcomed can do. You laugh because I at
tribute too much cunning to it? Because you can fell it in fve minutes with
a chain saw? But don't laugh too soon. It is older than you. Your fathers
made it speak long before you silenced it. Soon you may have no more fuel
for your saw. Then the tree with its carboniferous allies may be able to sap
)CMI strength. So far it has neither lost nor won, for each defnes the game
and time span in which its gain or loss is to be measured.
We cannot deny that it is a force because we are mixed up with trees
however far back we look. We have allied ourselves with them in endless
ways. We cannot disentangle our bodies, our houses, our memories, our
tools, and our myths from their knots, their bark, and their growth rings.
You hesitate because I allow this tree to speak? But our language is leafy
and we all move from the opera to the grave on planks and in boxes. If you
don't want to take account of this, you should not have gotten involved with
trees in the frst place. You claim that you defne the alliance? But this illusion
is common to all those who dominate and who colonize. It is shared by
idealists of every color and shape. Ypu wave your contract about you and
claim that the tree is joined to you in a "pure relationship of exploitation,"
that it is "mere stock." Pure object, pure slave, pure creature, the tree, you
say, did not enter into a contract. But if you are mixed up with trees, how
do you know they are not using you to achieve their dark designs?
Who told you that man was the shepherd of being? Many forces would
like to be shepherd and to guide the others as they flock to their folds to be
sheared and dipped. In any case there is no shepherd. There are too many
of us, and we are too indecisive to join together into a single consciousness
strong enough to silence all the other actors. Since you silence the things that
you speak of, why don't you let them talk by themselves about whatever is
on their minds, like grown-ups? Why are you so frightenedrWhat are you
hoping to save? Do you enjoy the double misery of Prometheus so much?
3.1.3 Jhosc who spcak aÍways spcak otothcrs that do not spcak
thcmscÍvcs. Jhcyspcakothim, otthat, otus, otyou. . . otwhothis
tothoscotwhomthcy spcakinmanyways.Jhcyact as spokcsmcn,
transÍators, anaÍysts, intcrprctcrs, haruspiccs, obscrvcrs, ¡ournaÍists,
soothsaycrs, socioÍogists, pocts, rcprcscntativcs, parcnts, guardians,
• Îobbcsspcaksotthc 'pcrsona,"thc'mask,"orthc'actor"whcn
3. 1.4 Lvcry actant dccidcs who wiÍÍ spcak and whcn. Jhcrc arc
thosc it Ícts spcak, thosc on bchaÍt ot whom it spcaks, thosc it ad-
drcsscs. !inaÍÍy, thcrc arc thosc who arc madc siÍcnt or who arc
aÍÍowcdto communicatc bygcsturc or symptom aÍonc.
'human" and 'nonhuman," 'ob¡cct" and 'sub¡cct," Ior this di-
Vc can makc stonc gods waÍk, dcny thc bÍacks a souÍ,
thc namc otwhaÍcs, ormakcthc ÏoÍcsvotc. Actors can aÍways be
made to do so, cvcn though what thcy wouÍd do or say it thcy
wcrc Íctt to thcir own dcviccs is a mystcry. ¦ÏrobabÍythcy wouÍd
not bc 'bÍacks," 'whaÍcs," 'ÏoÍcs," or 'gods" at aÍL)
3. 1. 5 A torcc is aÍmost aÍways surroundcd bypowcrs-by voiccs
thatspcakonbchaÍtotcrowdsthatdonotspcak¦ I.5. 0). Jhcscpowcrs
dchnc, scducc, usc, schcmc, movc, count, incorporatc, and intcrrupt
thc torcc. 5oonitis no longer possible to distinguish bctwccn ¦ I. 5. I)
what thc torcc says itself whati tsays otitscÍt, whatthcpowers say
it is, and what thc crowds rcprcscntcdbythcsc powcrs wouÍd havc
orto cmotions,wc cndup distinguishingshapcsthatcan bccÍass-
ihcd, at Ícast in pcacctimc. ßutthcsc cÍassihcations ncvcr Íast tor
Íong bctorc thcy arc piÍÍagcd by othcr actors who Íaythings out
3. 1. 6 Anything can bc rcduccd to siÍcncc, and cvcrything can bc
otactors who may be spoken for.
tors, or wind may bc madc to taÍk. Jhcir timidity has prcvcntcd
thcm trom sccing how othcrs much cÍoscr to homc makc tossiÍs,
prccipitatcs, bÍotting papcr, gcncs, and tornadocs aÍÍ taÍk. Jo bc
surc,psychoanaÍysts spcak otthctaÍkativc 'unconscious," butits
rcpcrtoirc is impovcrishcd and it combincs according to vcry tcw
ruÍcs. !n addition, psychoanaÍysts arc pronc to say that thc sub-
conscioushas onÍy 'sub¡cctivc" mcaning. YctaÍÍwcnccdtodo is
rcadThe Times toscchowmanymorcactorsthanthcunconscious
arcmadc to spcak incndÍcssdittcrcntways: hcrcÍcgionsotangcÍs
arc mobiÍizcd to supprcss vicc, thcrc thousands otpagcs ot com-
putcr printout arc gcncratcd to stop a nucÍcar pÍant, on thc ncxt
pagc siÍcntma¡oritics arc madc to scrcam on bchaÍt otthc unborn
chiÍd, a tcw pagcs carÍicr thc dcad wcrc brought back to Íitc to
stop thc dcsccration ota ccmctary, on thc back pagc whaÍcs had
thcir spokcsmcn intcrrupt thc dcadÍy mission ota|apancsc boat.
3. 1. 7 ßydchnitionfaithful rcprcscntativcscannotcxist¦2.2. I), sincc
¦J. 1.J) . Lvcry powcr can thus bc reduced to its simplest expression.
AÍÍ that ìs nccdcd ìs to havc cach otthc actors ìnVhoscnamc thc
powcr spcaks taÍk ìn turn. Jhcn cach actor wìÍÍ say what ìt wants
ìtscÍt, wìth ncìthcr ccnsorship norpromptìng. Jhcrc ìs no guartcr ìn
thctorccsthat rcducc onc anothcr and caÍÍ cach othcr`s bÍutt. 'You
spcakìnthcìrnamc, butìt! spcaktothcmmyscÍt,whatwìÍÍthcysay
3. 1. 8 JhcrcìsonÍyoncwayìnwhìch anactorcanprovcìtspowcr.
!t has to makc t|osc ìn whosc namcs ìt spokc�peak and show that
thcy aÍÍsaythcsame thing. Ònccthìs ìs donc, thcnthcactorcan say
that ìt dìd not spcak ìtscÍt but taìthtuÍÍy 'channcÍcd" thc vìcws ot
cach casc thc dcmonstrators and thc rats havc to bc sccn to bc
sayìngthcmscÍvcsthc samcasthcyhavcbccnmadcto say. And as
tor angcÍs and dcvìÍs, thcrc arc a thousand ways othndìng sìgns
ot thcm-wìtncsscs, stìgmata, or prodìgìcs-that wìÍÍ sottcn thc
3.1.º Jomakcothcrtorccsspcak, aÍÍwchavcto doìslay them out
bctorc whocvcr wc arc ta!kìng to. Vc havcto makc othcrs bcÍìcvc
thatthcyarc deciphering what thc torccs arc sayìngrathcrthan Íìs-
tcnìngtowhatwc arc sayìng. !sn`tthìsaÍmostaÍways possìbÍcr
• LÍcctìons,massdcmonstratìons, books, mìracÍcs,vìsccraÍaìdopcn
on thc aÍtar, vìsccra Íaìd out on thc opcratìngtabÍc, hgurcs, dìa-
thìng has bccn trìcd somcwhcrc at onc tìmc or anothcr ìn thc
attcmptto ottcr proot.
3.1.1Û 5ìncc a spokcsman aÍways says something other than do
thosc ìt makcs spcak, and sìncc ìt ìs aÍways ncccssary to ncgotìatc
sìmìÍarìtyanddìttcrcncc ¦ 1.2. 1) , thcrcìsalways room torcontrovcrsy
aboutthc hdcÍìtyotanyìntcrprctatìon. A torcc canaÍways ìnsìnuatc
makc thcm say somcthìng cÍsc.
• Jhc dcmonstrators dìd not say that thcy wantcd thc torty-hour
wcck-thcy ¡ust attcndcd ìnthcìr thousands, thc rats dìd not say
that thcy had condìtìoncd rchcxcs-thcy sìmpÍy stìttcncd undcr
workcrs can bc transÍatcd by sayìng that thcy wcrc 'paìd by thc
unìon," and thc stìttncss ot thc rats can bc ìntcrprctcd as 'an
cxpcrìmcntaÍ artìtact. "
3. 1. 11 Jhcrc ìsnonatural end tosuch controvcrsìcs.Jhcymay aÍ-
waysbcrcopcncd ¦ J. I. 6). JhconÍywaytocÍoscthcmìstostopothcr
actantstromÍcadìngthoscthathavc bccn cnroÍÍcdastrayandturnìng
thcmìntotraìtors.!nthc cnd, ìntcrprctatìonsarcaÍwaysstabìÍìzcdby
an array otforces.
3. 1. 12 A torcc bccomcspotcntonÍy ìtìtspeaks for othcrs, ìtìtcan
makc thosc ìt sìÍcnccd speak whcn caÍÍcd upon to dcmonstratc ìts
strcngth, and ìtìt can torcc thosc who chaÍÍcngcd ìt to confess that
ìndccd ìtwas sayìngwhatìts aÍÍìcs wouÍdhavc saìd.
• ¯hctradcunìoncannotstop ìts rìght-wìng opponcnts trom ìntcr-
prctìng thc dcmonstratìon dìttcrcntÍy. 5kìnncr cannot prcvcnt hìs
!tmcy couÍd, mcy wouÍd ccrtaìnÍy do so, but as ìt ìs, thcy can`t.
Òthcrs wouÍd ruìn thcm ìtthcy trìcd.
3.2. 1 Vhat ìsthc statc ot attaìrsrVhcrc do thìngs standrVhatìs
thcbaÍanccottorccsr UsìngthcmuÍtìtudcs whìchthcymakcspcak,
somcactantsbccomcpowcrtuÍ cnough to dchnc, brìchyandÍocaÍÍy,
whatìt ìs aÍÍ about. Jhcy dìvìdc actants, scparatcthcmìnto assocì-
atìons,dcsìgnatccntìtìcs, cndowthcsc cntìtìcswìth awìÍÍ or a tunc-
tìon, dìrcct thcsc wìÍÍs or tunctìons toward goaÍs, dccìdc how to
dctcrmìnc that thcsc goaÍs havc bccn achìcvcd, and so on. LìttÍc by
ÍìttÍc thcy Íìnk cvcrythìngtogcthcr.LvcrythìngÍcnds ìts strcngth to an
cntcÍcchy that has no strcngth, and thc whoÍc ìs madc 'ÍogìcaÍ" and
'consìstcnt"-ìn othcrwords strong ¦2. I. 8) .
• ! am not tryìngto avoìdgìvìngan answcrto thc gucstìon, 'Vhat
ìs thc baÍancc ot torccsr" PcvcrthcÍcss, wc must cÍcar away thc
undcrgrowth sothat all thc answcrs wìÍÍ bc abÍc to dìspÍay thcm-
3.2.2 Ponc ot thc actants mobìÍìzcd to sccurc an aÍÍìancc stops
actìngonìtsownbchaÍt¦ I .J. I, I.J.4) . Jhcycachcarryontomcntìng
wìÍÍs, and tunctìons.
• !orccs arc aÍways rcbcÍÍious ¦ I. I. I) , thcy Ícnd thcmscÍvcs but do
notgivc ¦ I. 5. I) . Jhis istructorthctrccthatsprings up again,thc
Íocusts that dcvour thc crops, thc canccr that bcats othcrs at its
own gamc, thc muÍÍahs who dissoÍvc thc Ïcrsian cmpirc, thc Zi-
thcÍion that docs not toÍÍowthc prcdictions otthc oracÍc-aÍÍ ot
thcsc havcothcrgoaÍs and othcrdcstinicsthat cannot bcsummed
scÍvcs undcr othcr banncrs.
3.2.3 How can thosc in whosc namc wc spcak bc stoppcd trom
taÍkingr Îow can thosc that havc bccn rccruitcd through good Íuck
bc pacihcdr !s thcrc a single cntity anywhcrc that docs not havc to
soÍvcthcscprobÍcmsrJhcanswcr ¡saÍwaysthcsamc, torthcrcisonÍy
oncsourccotstrcngm: thatwhichcomcstrom¡oiningtogcmcr¦ I.J.2).
ßuthowcanrcbcÍsbcassociatcdrBy fnding more allies which torcc
thc othcrs to hoÍd togcthcr, and so on, untiÍ a gradicnt otunccrtain
ob¡ccts cnds up making thc hrst rank ot thc aÍÍiancc rcsistant and
thcrcbyrcaÍ ¦ I. I.2).
• Jhc notion ot systcm isotnousctous, tor a systcm isthc cnd
product ottinkcring and not its point otdcparturc ¦2. I.4). !or a
thisisncvcrthc casc, tunctionsmustbccÍcar,whcrcasmostactors
cvcrywhcrc thcrc arc disputcs aboutthc ratc and dircction ot cx-
havc aÍways pÍaycd ¦ I. I. IJ) .
3.2.4 As itassociatcs cÍcmcnts togcthcr, cvcry actor has a choicc:
tocxtcnd turthcr, riskìngdissidcnccanddissociation, orto rcintorcc
consistcncy and durabiÍíty, but notgo too tar.
3.2.5 AwcÍÍ-dchncdstatcotattairsisthcworkotmany forces. Jhcy
agrcc about nothing and associatc onÍy via Íong nctworks in which
thcy taÍk cndÍcssÍy without bcing abÍc to sum onc anothcr up. Jhcy
thìng, nctworks rcìntorcc onc anothcr and rcsìst dcstructìon. 5oÍìd
ycttragìÍc, ìsoÍatcdyct ìntcrwovcn, smoothycttwìstcd togcthcr, cn-
tcÍcchìcs torm strangc tabrìcs. Jhìs ìs how wc havc ìmagìncd 'tra-
dìtìonaÍ worÍds," howcvcr tar back wc Íook.
• ! do nottaÍkot'cuÍturc," bccauscthcwordhas bccnrcscrvcd by
Vcstcrncrs to dcscrìbconcotthcdctachcdcntìtìcs uscdto constì-
tutc 'man." !orccs cannot bc dìvìdcd ìnto thc 'human" and thc
'nonhuman." ! do nottaÍk ot'socìcty," bccausc thc assocìatìons
Agaìn, ! do not taÍk ot'naturc,"bccauscthoscwhospcakìnthc
who spcak ìn thc namc otbÍood, thc dcad, IÍood, hcÍÍ, and hsh. !
wouÍdgrant thc tcrm 'unconscìous" ìtwc wcrc suthcìcntÍy opcn-
mìndcd to dcsìgnatcthìngs-ìn-thcmscÍvcswìth ìt.
3. 3. 1 !n ordcr to sprcad tar wìthout Íosìng cohcrcncc, an actant
wìth ìts causc, carry out aÍÍ thc tunctìons that arc dchncd tor thcm,
andcomctoìts aìd wìthouthcsìtatìonwhcnthcyarc summoncd. Jhc
scarchtorthcsc ìdcaÍaÍÍìcsoccupìcsthc spacc andtìmcotthosc who
wìsh to bc strongcr than othcrs. As soon as an actor has tound a
, somewhat more faithful aÍÍy,ìtcantorccanothcraÍÍytobccomcmore
faithful ìn ìts turn. !r crcatcs a gradìcnt that obÍìgcs thc othcr aÍÍìcs
to adopt a shapc and rctaìn ìt tor thc tìmc bcìng ¦ I. I. I2).
• Vc spcndaÍotottìmcÍookìngtorwhatcvcrhappcnsto bchardcr
ìn ordcr to shapc what ìs sottcr- a stonc to scrvc as an anvìÍ, a
to Íct a vìrus pcnctratc thc marrow, a Íawto curb thc appctìtc ot
a Íobby, a Íobby to modìty thc Íaw. Jhc word 'tcchnoÍogy" ìs
otthosc Íìncs ot torcc that takc thc torm otnuts and boÍts.
3.3.2 !t wc want to stoptorccstrom transtormìng thcmscÍvcs thc
aÍways drcam ot bcìng cvcrywhcrc, cvcn whcn thcy arc tar away or
Íonggonc. Îowcanthcybcprcscntwhcnothcrtorccs havcpushcd
thcm to onc sìdc ¦ I.2.5) r Îow can thcy cxtcnd thcmscÍvcs whcn
and torcvcrr Òh, thcpotcncyotthc myth otpotcncy| Anythìngthat
hcÍps thc prcscnt structurc to Íast bcyondthc momcnt whcn torcc ìs
wìthdrawn wìÍÍ do.
3.3.3 Vhcn a torcc has tound aÍÍìcs that aÍÍow ìt to m thc ranks
otothcr torccsìn a Íastìng manncr, ìtcancxtcndìtscÍt agaìn. Jhìs ìs
bccausc thctaìthtuÍ arctìcdby such durabÍc Íìnks thatthc torccmay
wìthdraw wìthout tcar. Lvcn whcn ìt ìs not thcrc, cvcrythìng wìÍÍ
happcn as ìtìtwcrc. !nthc cnd,thcrc ìs sìmpÍy a€oÍÍcctìon ottorccs
whìch act tor ìt but wìthout ìt.
• Vc somctìmcs caÍÍ thcsc machìnatìons ot torccs 'mcchanìsms."
Jhìs tcrm ìs poorÍy choscn-bccausc ìt ìmpÍìcs that aÍÍtorccs arc
arc man-madc and artìhcìaÍ, aÍthough thcìr gcncaÍogy ìs prccìscÍy
what ìs at stakc.
3.3.3. 1 Jo gaìnpotcncyìsaÍwaysamattcrotscttìngtorccsagainst
onc anothcr. Jhc powcr that rcsuÍts trom thc whoÍc array ìs thcn
attrìbutcd to thc last torcc, trappcd by aÍÍ thc othcrs.
• Jhc rcason ! havc taÍkcd ottorcc trom thc outsct shouÍd now bc
cÍcar. !twasnotto extend tcchnìcaÍmctaphorsto phìÍosophy. Òn
thc contrary, thcstrcngthotmachìncs orautomatìsmsìs achìcvcd
onÍy rarcÍy and ÍocaÍÍy. ÒnÍy whcn wc ìgnorc aÍÍ thc othcr torccs
otwhìchthcy arcthc last in line canwctaÍkot'tcchnoÍogy."Jhc
cngìnc purrìng undcr thc hood ìs onÍy onc otthc possìbÍc torms
takcn by thc conspìracy ot torccs. DìcscÍ hopcd to optìmìzc thc
was to bc thc samc motor, thc samc rcscarch, thc samc optìmìza-
tìon: comprcssìon, mìxturc, rccovcry, yìcÍd.
220.127.116.11 Jhcrc ìs nothìng spccìaÍ ìn thcsc machìnatìons apart trom
thìs NachìavcÍÍìan ìn¡unctìon: coÍÍcct thc ÍargcstpossìbÍc numbcr ot
taìthtuÍaÍÍìcsthatwccaninside, andpush thoscthatwcdoubtto thc
outside. !n thìs way wc gct a ncw dìvìsìonbctwccn thc hard and thc
• Jhoscwho arc takcn ìn bythìs dìvìsìontaÍk ot 'tcchnoÍogy" and
ot'thc socìaÍ,"wìthoutrcaÍìzìngthat 'thc socìaÍ" maybcwhat ìs
Ích ovcr, Íìkc thc shavìngs tromthc carpcntcr`spÍanc. Lvcry bÍuc�
prìntcan bcrcad asanothcrPrince: tcÍÍmc yourtoÍcranccs, your
bcnchmarks, your caÍìbratìons, thc patcnts you havc cvadcd and
thc cguatìons you havc choscn,'and ! wìÍÍ tcÍÍ you who you arc
atraìd ot, who you hopc wìÍÍ comc to your support, who you
dccìdcd to avoìd or to ìgnorc, and who you wìsh to domìnatc
¦Coutouzìs. 1983) .
3.3.4 Yct you cannot stop torccs trom pÍayìng agaìnst cach othcr
(3.2.2) . Jhcrc ìs no conspìracy, sorccry, Íogìc, argumcnt, ormachìnc
thatcanstop thcmobìÍìzcdactants trom churnìngroundandboìÍìng
as thcy scarch tor othcr goaÍs and aÍÍìanccs. Jhc most ìmpcrsonaÍ
machìnc ìs morc crowdcdthan a pond othsh.
• Contrary to Lcìbnìz, ìnthc movcmcnt otthc watchthcrc arc aÍso
ponds tuÍÍ ot hsh and hsh tuÍÍ ot ponds. Jo bc surc, ìt ìs aÍways
possìbÍc to hnd pcopÍc who wìÍÍ say that machìncs arc coÍd, ìm-
pcrsonaÍ, ìnhuman, or stcrìÍc. ßut Íook at thc purcst aÍÍoy. ìt ìs
bctraycdcvcrywhcrc, too, ÍìkcthcrcstotouraÍÍìanccs.Vcstcrncrs
aÍways bcÍìcvc that motors arc 'purc" ìn thc samc way that ar-
!t ìs thc vìtrìoÍ otthc souÍ" ¦!ntcrÍudc V!).
sothatthcy arc unabÍcto bctray ìt ( 3. 3. 3) , dcspìtc thc tactthat thcy
arc bound to do so (3. 3. 4). Jhcrc ìs onÍy onc way to rcsoÍvc thìs
guandary. sìncc no ìndìvìduaÍ Íìnk ìs soÍìd, actants havc to support
onc anothcr, thc momcnt numcrous Íìnks arc arraycd ìn tìcrs, thcy
Îowcvcr,thìs ìmprcssìonìs aÍÍ thatìsnccdcdto changcth�shapc
otthìngsbyinforming or impressing thcm.Jhìsìsthcmystcrythat
has to bc cxpÍaìncd.
3.3.6 We always misunderstand the strength of the strong. Jhough
pcopÍc attrìbutcìtto thc purìty otan actant, ìtìs ìnvarìabÍyducto a
Interlude V: Where We Learn with Great Delight That
There Is No Such Thing as a Modern World
The whites were not right. They were not the strongest. When they landed
on the island, their cannons only fred spasmodically and were no use at all
in the face of poisoned arrows. Their engines were broken down more ofte
than not and had to be repaired each day in a flood of grease and oaths.
The Holy Book of their priests stayed as silent as the grave. The drugs of
their doctors acted so erratically that it was scarcely possible to distinguish
between their effects and those of medicinal herbs. Their books of law were
beset with contradictions the moment they were applied to lineages or atolls.
Each day the civil servants waited to be transferred or carried off by yellow
fever. Their geographers were wrong about the names they gave to familiar ³
places. Their ethnographers made fools of themselves with their blunders
and their boorishness. Their merchants knew the worth of nothing and valued
knickknacks, totems, wild pigs, and ground nuts equally. No, they were not
the strongest, these uninitiated whites, racked by fever and smelling, acccord
ing to the natives, of fsh or rotten meat.
Yet they managed to make the island archaic, primitive, pagan, magic,
precommercial, prelogical, pre anything we care to think of. And they, the
whites, became in turn the "modern world."
This leads to the question that is asked on the shores of every ravaged
country: how did such a rabble of weak, illogical, and vulgar nonbelievers
manage to conquer the cohesive and well-policed multitudes? The answer to
this question is simple. They were stronger than the strongest because they
arrived together. No, better than that. They arrived separately, each in his
place and each with his purity, like another plague on Egypt.
The priests spoke only of the Bible, and to this and this alone they attrib
uted the success of their mission. The administrators, with their rules and
regulations, attributed their success to their country's. civilizing mission. The
geographers spoke only of science and its advance. The merchants attributed
all the virtues of their art to gold, to trade, and to the London Stock Exchange.
The soldiers simply obeyed orders and interpreted everything they · did in
terms of the fatherland. The engineers attributed the effcacy of their machines
They believed in a separate order from which they drew their strengths.
This is why they argued so much and distrusted one another. In their reports
the administrators denounced the rapacity of the merchants. The learned
und the proselytism of the priests scandalous, whereas the latter preached
from the pulpits against the cruelty of the administrators and the atheism of
the learned. The ethnologists despised everyone, while extracting their secrets
and dragging their genealogies and myths from the natives one by one. They
each believed themselves to be strong because of their purity-and indeed
there were many worthy people who thought of nothing but the faith, the
fag, philosophy, or fnance.
Even so-and they knew this well-it was only because of the others that
they were able to stay on the island at all. Since the priests were too weak
to make God step out of the Bible, they needed soldiers and merchants to
fll their churches. Since the merchants could not force the sale · of totems
with the strength of gold alone, they drafted priests and scientists to reduce
their value. Since the scientists were too weak to dominate the island by
science alone, they depended on police raids, forced labor, and the porters
and interpreters lent to them by administrators.
Each group thus lent its strength to the others without admitting it, and
therefore claimed to have retained its purity. Each went on attributing its
strength to its domestic gods-gold, private convictions, justice, scientifc
rigor, rationality; machines, ledgers, or notebooks.
If they had come one at a time, they would have been overwhelmed by
the island's inhabitants.
If they had come completely united, sharing the same beliefs and the same
gods and mixing all the sources of potency like the conquerors of the past,
they would have been still more easily defeated, since an injury to one would
have been an injury to all.
But they came together, each one separated and isolated in his virtue, but
all supported by the whole. With this infnitely fragile spider's web,
paralyzed all the other worlds, ensnared all the islands and singularities, and
suffocated all the networks and fabrics.
Those who "invented the modern world" were not the strongest or the
most correct, and neither are they today (Interlude VI) .
3.4. 1 ÎowshouÍdwctaÍkaboutaÍÍthcscthìngsthathoÍdtogcthcrr
5houÍdwc taÍk otcconomìcs, Íaw, mcchanìsms,Íanguagc gamcs, so-
cìcty, naturc, psychoÍogy, or a systcmthathoÍdsthcm aÍÍ togcthcrr
• !n|amcsßondhÍmsthcrc ìsaÍways asìngcbÍackbutton matcan
undo thc machìnatìons otthc cvìÍ gcnìus, a button that thc hcro,
cxtrcmc potcncy and cxtrcmc tragìÍìty coìncìdc.
3.4.2 !tìsnotamattcroteconomics. JhìsmakcsuscotcguìvaÍcnts,
knowìng who mcasurcs and counts. Lconomìcs aÍways arrìvcs afer
thatmakcìtpossìbÍcto mcasurc vaÍucs andcntcrìntocxchangcs. !ar
trom ìÍÍumìnatìngthc trìaÍs otstrcngth, cconomìcs dìsguìscs and rc-
prcsscsthcm. At bcst ìt ìs a way otrccordìng thcsc trìaÍs oncc thcy
havc bccn stabìÍìzcd.
• Òncc thc ìnstrumcnt ot mcasurcmcnt ìs cstabÍìshcd, wc can do
cconomìcs and caÍcuÍatc, cconomìzc, and savc. !n othcrwords wc
can convìncc and cnrìch. ßut cconomìsts do not say how thc ìn-
strumcnt ìs cstabÍìshcd ìn thc hrstpÍacc.
ìs not possìbÍc. lt wouÍd nccd to rcvcaÍ thosc who ncgotìatc, thosc
whohavc paìd, thosc who havcÍost andwon, howmuch thc rcpay-
mcnts arc worth, andwhcn thc account shouÍd bc cÍoscd.
3.4.3 ltìs notamattcrotthc law. Jhìs ìs aratchctwhìch, Íìkcany
othcr ( 1. 1. 10), pcrmìts an actantto makcthctcmporaryoccupatìon
ot a posìtìon ìrrcvcrsìbÍc. Jhat whìch makcs thc Íaw strong ìs not
onÍy tcxts but aÍso thc paraÍysìs ot thosc who darc not transgrcss
whatthcybcÍìcvcto Íìc'potcntìaÍÍy"ìnìts scrìpturcs,thatìs,thcgap
bctwccn Íaw and torcc, or Íaw and tact. ltwc wìcÍd thìs powcr, wc
can ìntìmìdatc othcrs and cxtcnd ourscÍvcs to ncw pÍaccs no mattcr
whatthc opposìtìon. Jhc strcngth otthc Íawcomcsnottromwìthìn
ìt but trom a poor dcspìscd rabbÍc whìch gìvcs ìt thc torcc ot tact:
moraÍs, words, trunchcons, hopcs, admìnìstrauons, waÍÍs, tcÍcxcs, µcs,
3.4.4 lt ìs not a mattcr ot machines or mechanisms. Jhcsc havc
ncvcrcxìstcd wìthout mcchanìcs, ìnvcntors, hnancìcrs, and machìn-
ìsts. Nachìncs arcthcconccaÍcdwìshcs otactantswhìchhavctam¢d
torccs so cttcctìvcÍy that thcy no Íongcr Íook Íìkc torccs. Jhc rcsuÍt
ìsthat thc actants arc obcycd, cvcnwhcnthcy arc not thcrc (3. 3.3) .
• Nany pcopÍc havc drcamcd otmachìncs that can bccxtcndcd to
aÍÍrcÍatìonshìps, butthc drcamìsaÍwayshauntcdbyanìghtmarc:
workìng machìncs. Jhc strcngthotmachincs ìs drawn trom othcr
torccs whìch comc to bcpart otthcm-torccs that othcrs dcspìsc
andrcprcss, torccsthatarctccbÍy assocìatcd,avuÍgarrabbÍctrom
thc Íowcr cÍasscs.
3.4.5 ltìs not a gucstìon otlanguage or otÍanguagcgamcs (2.3. 0,
2.4.3, 2.4. 4). VordsarcnotpowcrtuÍbutborrowthcìrstrcngthtrom
compromìscs that arc tar rcmovcd trom 'bcÍÍcs Ícttrcs."
3.4.6 ltìsnotamattcrotscience. ltargumcntswcrcsovcrcìgn,thcy
wouÍd havc aÍÍthc potcncy ota gouty monarch ìmmurcd ìna crum
bÍìng castÍc. lt scìcncc grows, thìs ìs bccausc ìt managcs to convìncc
dozcns otactants otdoubttuÍ brccdingto Ícnd itthcirstrcngth: rats,
bactcria, industriaÍists, myths, gas, worms, spcciaÍ stccÍs, passions,
handbooks,workshops . . . acrowdottooÍswhoschcÍpisdcnicdcvcn
whiÍc itis uscd.
cnmcnt Ícads tothc crasscsttorm otobscurantism.
3.4.7 lt is not a mattcr ot society. Jhc mcaning ot thc 'sociaÍ"
probÍcms. ltiswhatisÍcttwhcncvcrything cÍschas bccndividcdup
amongthcpowcrtuÍ, whatcvcr is ncithcr cconomic, tcchnicaÍ, ÍcgaÍ,
noranythingcÍscisÍcttto it. DowcrcaÍÍycxpcctto bindcvcrything
with this impovcrishcd vcrsion ot thc sociaÍ r Likc a may-
its groups, and its stratcgics-is too cÍoscÍy idcntihcd with human
• ltsociology wcrc ¦as its namcsuggcsts) thc scicnccotassociations
rathcrthanthc scicnccotthc sociaÍtowhichitwasrcduccdinthc
ninctccnth ccntury, thcn pcrhaps wc wouÍd bc happy to caÍÍ our-
3.4.8 ltisnotamattcrotintersubjective relationships. ÒnÍyinour
dayandagccouÍdwc hopc to hndpcopÍcso impovcrishcd astotry
to cxpÍain nucÍcarrcactors, nation-statcs, or stock cxchangcs onthc
basisot'intcracuons." ÏsychoÍogy and its sistcr, psychoanaÍysis, think
thatthcyarc rich inthcirinhnitcpovcrty. Jhcrc isnothingto bc said
cannotcxpand to cxpÍain thc rcst ¦18.104.22.168).
• lnthc dcpths ot thc country thcrc havc aÍways bccn rctrcats tor
pcopÍc who wantto makc cathcdraÍs outotmatchcs orbaÍÍ-point
3.4.º lt is not a gucstion otnature ¦J.2.5) . Jry to makc scnsc ot
thcsc scrics. sunspots, thaÍwcgs, antibodics, carbon spcctra, hsh,
into mcn, mothcrgoddcsscs in ivory, totcms otcbony.
this way. Natures mingÍc with onc anothcr and with 'us" so thor-
oughÍy that wc cannot hopc to scparatc thcm and dìscovcr cÍcar,
unìguc orìgìns to thcìr powcrs ¦!ntcrÍudc !V) .
3.4.1Û !t ìs not a gucstìon ot systems (3. 2. 3) . 5ìncc pcopÍc know
thatthcorìgìn otpowcr docs notrcsìdc ìnthcpurìty ottorccs, thcy
Íocatc ìt ìn a 'systcm" ot purc torccs. Ähìs drcam ìs aÍways bcìng
rcborn. Law ìs attachcdto cconomy, to bìoÍogy, to Íanguagc, to so-
cìcty, to cybcrnctìcs . . . ßcautìtuÍ boxcs arc drawn, ¡oìncd by nìccÍy
poìntcd arrows. UntortunatcÍy tor thosc who makc systcms, actors
do not stand stìÍÍ tor Íong cnough to takc a group photo, boxcs
partìcs but ìn a dìsordcrÍy and promìscuous conhìct that ìs horrìbÍc
to thosc who worshìp purìty.
3. 5. 1 Vc arc aÍways mìsundcrstandìng thc cthcacy ot torccs: wc
attrìbutc thìngs to thcm that thcy havc onÍy bccn Ícnt ¦ I.5. I) . Vc
hoÍd thcm to bc purc, though thcy wouÍd bc compÍctcÍy ìmpotcnt ìt
dìscovcr bìts andpìcccsthatcanncvcrbcaddcdup.Lachnctworkìs
sparsc, cmpty, tragìÍc, andhctcrogcncous. !t bccomcs strongonÍyìt
ìt sprcads out and arrays wcakaÍÍìcs.
• Vhatcanwccomparcwìththcwcakncsscsthatmakcup atorccr
A macramc. !s thcrc a knot that Íìnks mcn to mcn, ncurons to
ncurons, or shccts ot ìron to shccts ot ìronr Po. Jhc ropc ot
thìs Gordìan knot has not yct bccn wovcn. ßutcvcry day wc scc
bctorc ourvcry cycs amacramcotstrìngsotdìttcrcnt coÍors, ma-
tcrìaÍs, orìgìns, and Ícngths, trom whìch wc hang our most chcr-
3.5.2 Canwc dcscrìbc aÍÍnctworks ìnthcsamcwayrYcs,bccausc
thcrc ìs no 'modcrnworÍd."
• !orycars cthnographcrs havc saìd that ìt ìs ìmpossìbÍc to study
'prìmìtìvc" or ancìcnt pcopÍcs ìt wc scparatc Íaw, cconomy, rcÍì-
gìon, tcchnoÍogy, andthc rcst. Ònthc contrary, thcyhavc argucd
that thcsc ÍooscÍy Íìnkcd mìxturcs may bc undcrstood onÍy ìt wc
Íookvcry cÍoscÍyatpÍaccs, tamìÍìcs, cìrcumstanccs,andnctworks.
ßutwhcn thcy taÍk otthcìr own countrìcs, thcyarc commìttcdto
thc scparatìon otsphcrcs andÎcvcÍs.
3.5.3 Jhc 'modcrn worÍd" ìs thc ÍabcÍ on thc button that unìtcs
cxtrcmc potcncy and cxtrcmc ìmpotcncc ¦J.4. I) . Jhc hctcrogcncous
andÍocaÍ appÍìcatìon otwcakncsscsbccomcsasystcmotpowcrswìth
prcstìgìous namcs such as naturc, cconomy, Íaw, and tcchnoÍogy.
• Lìkcìts zcaÍots, thoscwho abhor thcmodcrnworÍdhavc ìnvcntcd
morc tcrms to dcscrìbc ìtthanthc dcvouthavc tound to ccÍcbratc
thc namc ot God. Jhcy say cìthcr 'Vadc rctro, satanas" or 'hcar
my praycr" to cach otthcsc ìnvocatìons:
'Îcarmypraycr." 'Vadcrctro, 5antanas." Lachotthcscwords
conccaÍs thc work donc by torccs and makcs an anthropoÍogy ot
thchcrc andnow ìmpossìbÍc. Yct ìtìs rcaÍÍy vcry sìmpÍc: thcrcìs
no modcrnworÍd, or ìtthcrcìs onc, ìtìs sìmpÍy a styÍc, as whcn
wc say 'modcrn styÍc."
Interlude N. In Which the Authqr, Losing His Temper,
Claims That Reducers Are Traitors
I would like the following mystery to be explained. Why is it that since the
Enlightenment we have delighted in talking of the "modern world"? Why is
it that faith in the existence of this world links Althusser to Rockefeller, Zola
to Burke, Sartre to Aron, and Levi-Strauss to Hayek ( 22.214.171.124) ? They say this
"moder world" is different from all the others, absolutely and radically
different. In the "modern world," but only there, the Being is not gathered
by any being. This poor world is absolutely devoid of soul, and the tawdriest
hand-carved clog has more being than a tin can. Why is it that we agree so
easily with these premises even before we commit ourselves to "progress,"
"proft," or "revolution," or against "materialism," "rationalization," or
"modernism"? Our most intelligent critics have done nothing for the last
150 years but complain of the damage caused by progress, the misdeeds of
objectivity, the extension of market forces, the march of concrete in our
towns, and dehumanization.
All right, let them complain, become indignant, criticize, and fght. This
is necessary. But if they really want to win, why do they willingly hand over
the only thing to the enemy that it needs to achieve domination?
The "enemies" on the ffty-eighth floor of the Chase Manhattan Bank, a
quarter of a mile underground in the Red Army feld marshall's bunker,
three-quarters of a mile up in the spectrography room in the Mount Palomar
Observatory, at four o'clock in th,e moring on the benches of the European
Commission-"they" know very well that objectivization, rationalization,
and optimization are pipe dreams that are , about as accessible as the gates
of Paradise. This is why every time they engineer a coup they are so surprised
to discover that their enemies strike camp without engaging and leave the
feld of battle
to them. In the face of the "modern world" everything flees.
A captain of industry is not just a captain among many; he becomes a
"capitalist." Such a radical discontinuity is created between him and his
predecessors that those who could have beaten him run away. An engineer
who, like the tinkerers, apprentices, and craftsmen of the past, brews up a
slightly more favorable confguration of forces is converted into a Franken
stein by those who ought to be making an effort to prevent this confguration
from turning into a monster.
For years we have voluntarily granted to the "modern world" a potency
that it does not have. Perhaps once upon a time it bluffed and claimed
superiority, but there was no reason whatsoever to concede this superiority
(4.2. 1) . For too long the critics have withdrawn their troops from the Rhine
land, intimidated by the rumbling of "rationalization" and "disenchant
ent." This massive strategic decision has left us disarmed in the face of the
unmatched arrogance of captains of industry, technologists, and scientists.
Munich was nothing compared with this unconditional surrender which
grants the enemy everything that it would never have been able to win by
itself. This pathetic melodrama by installments has been going on since the
beginning of the nineteenth century. In the hope that this accusation will
shame them, captains, engineers, and scholars are said to be rational and
absolutely different. However, this simply crowns them with an accolade
that they would never have won otherwise. Their opponents think themselves
rich with what they have saved from the feld of battle: the "spiritual," the
"symbolic," the "warmth of interpersonal relationships," the "lived world,"
the "irrational," the "poetic," the "cultural," and the "past." We know the
politics of the scorched earth, the politics of the worst case, but this strategy,
which asks us to leave everything untouched and to flee, is new.
We witnessed these Munichs, though we could have fought and won. We
saw this exodus in which the masses carried away their culture and poetry,
though they lost everything in flight.
We must distrust those who believe in "true" market relationships, "true"
equivalences, or "true" scientifc deductions. No matter how polite, well
meaning, and cultivated they may be, they do not save the treasure that they
claim to guard. In fact, they disarm those who might have the courage to
approach the relations of force that create equivalences, machines, or knowl
edge. They weaken those who might, perhaps, have had the strength to
modif that knowledge or those machines.
3.5.4 !ortunatcÍy, thc worÍd is nomor� discnchantcd than ituscd
to bc, machincs arc no morc poÍishcd, rcasoning is no tightcr, and
cxchangcs arc no bcttcr organizcd. Îowcanwc spcakota 'modcrn
worÍd" whcn its cthcacy dcpcnds upon idoÍs: moncy, Íaw, rcason,
naturc, machincs, organization, orÍinguistic structurcsr Vc havc aÍ-
rcadyuscdthcword 'magic" ¦2. I. II) . 5inccthcoriginsotthcpowcr
otthc 'modcrn worÍd" arc misundcrstood and cthcacyis attributcd
to things that ncithcr movc nor spcak, wc may spcak otmagic oncc
again ¦4. I.0).
3. 5. 5 Vhatwcarc pÍcascdtocaÍÍ 'othcr cuÍturcs" havc a numbcr
mystcrious to us and worth knowing, whcrcas our own sccms both
unknowabÍc and strippcd ot mystcry. Jhis sccrct is thc only thing
thatdistinguishcs our cuÍturc tromthc othcrs: that it and it aÍonc is
notonc cuÍturc amongmany. ÒurbcÍictinthcmodcrnworÍd ariscs
tromthis dcniaÍ. Jo avoidit, aÍÍ wc havcU do is ¡ointogcthcrwhat
wc normaÍÍy scparatc whcn taÍking otourscÍvcs. Vc havc to bc thc
anthropoÍogists ot our own worÍd.
3.6.1 Vhat is it aÍÍ aboutr Vhat is thc statc ot attairsr 5omconc
spcak� in thc namc ot othcrs who say nothing, and rcpÍics to my
gucstions byputtingmc amongthcdumb. ItthcrcpÍyconvinccs mc,
to support it.
3.6.2 Lvcrything happcns as itthcrc wcrc no triaÍs otstrcngth but
rathcr astrangcIantasy: 'mcn" 'discovcring" 'naturc"|
3.6.3 ÒnÍyinpoÍiticsarcpcopÍcwiÍÍingto taÍk ot'triaÍs otstrcngm."
and hatc thcm. Vc compctc to dcnouncc thcir vcnaÍity and incom-
taiÍurcs, thcir pragmatism or Íack ot rcaÍism, thcir dcmagogy. ÒnÍy
inpoÍitics arc triaÍs otstrcngth thoughtto dchnc thc shapc ot!hings
( 1. 1.4). !t is onÍy poÍiticians who arc thought to bc dishoncst, who
arc hcÍd to gropc in thc dark.
• !t takcs somcthing Íikc couragc to admit that wc wiÍÍ never do
ian ( 1.2. 1) . Vccontrasthisincompctcnccwith
thc cxpcrtisc ot thc wcÍÍ intormcd, thc rigor ot thc schoÍar, thc
cÍairvoyancc ot thc sccr, thc insight otthc gcnius, thc disintcrcst-
cdncss ot thc protcssionaÍ, thc skiÍÍ ot thc crattsman, thc tastc ot
thc artist, thc sound common scnsc ot thc ordinary man in thc
strcct, thc IÍair oIthc !ndian, thc dcttncss otthc cowboy who hrcs
morc guickÍy than his shadow, thc pcrspcctivc and baÍancc otthc
mistakcs. Jhcy can go back and try again. ÒnÍy thc poÍitician is
Íimitcd to a singÍc shot and has to shoot in pubÍic. ! chaÍÍcngc
anyonc to do any bcttcr than this, to think any morc accuratcÍy,
or to scc any turthcr than thc most myopic congrcssman (2. 1 .0,
4.2. 0) .
3.6.3. 1 Vhat wc dcspisc as poÍiticaÍ 'mcdiocrity" is simpÍy thc
coÍÍcction otcompromiscs that wc torcc poÍiticians to makc on our
• !twcdcspiscpoÍiticswcshouÍddcspiscourscÍvcs. Ïcguywaswrong.
Îc shouÍd havc said, 'Lvcrything starts with poÍitics and, aÍas,
dcgcncratcs into mysticism."
J.6.4 5omconc spcaks brcathÍcssÍytoothcrs who undcrstand onÍy
what thcy want to hcar. Jhc story is about thosc who rcvcaÍ thcm-
scÍvcsthrough cnigmas andsymptoms. !romtimcto timcthoscwho
5omctimcs thosc who wcrc doing thc taÍking stop, angry that thcy
do not undcrstand or havc not bccnundcrstood.Vavcring, spcakcrs
gropc trom haÍt-mcasurc to compromisc. Jhcy pick up torccswhich
VhcnthcyÍikcthc rcsuÍt, thcyticthcirtatcto thatotmorc durabÍc
matcriaÍs. LittÍc byÍittÍc thc torccs grow, trom combinations to ar-
whcn othcrs morc numcrous or skiÍÍtuÍ ovcrwhcÍm thcm.
• NachiavcÍÍi ai¡d5pinoza,whoarc accuscd otpoÍiticaÍ 'cynicism,"
wcrcthc most gcncrous otmcn. Jhosc who bcÍicvc thatthcycan
ncctcdtorccs aÍways do worse.
ticd to mostotthc torccs wcspcaktorthan atradcunionististothc
workcrshc rcprcscnts, ora managingdircctoristo his sharchoÍdcrs.
!spcakhcrcotourdrcams¡ust asmuchasotourrats, ourstomachs,
or our machincs.
• !n thccndpoÍitics is an acccptabÍcmodcÍ, soÍongasitiscxtcndcd
to thc poÍitics otthings-in-thcmscÍvcs [4.5.0) .
J.6.6 VorÍds probabÍy Íook morc Íikc a Komc than a computcr.
Òr rathcr, thc bcst-conccivcd computcr shouÍd bc thought ot as a
coÍÍagcotdispÍaccd, rcuscdruins, aspÍcndidKomancontusion ¦Kid-
dcr, Iº8I) . Lach cntcÍcchy Íooks Íikc thc court otÏarma.
• ßaÍzac said ot5tcndhaÍ`s Charterhouse of Parma thatit was The
Prince ot thc ninctccnth ccntury. ^cithcr thc sccrcts ot thc hcart
butirrcducibÍc, dispÍaccd, and bctraycd.
4.1.1 You can bccomc strong onÍy byassociation. ßut sincc this is
aÍways achicvcd throug uansÍauon ¦ I.J.Z),thc strcngth ¦ I.5. I, Z.5.Z)
togcthcr ¦J. J. 6). 'Nagic"isthcottcringotpotcncytothcpowcrÍcss.
'Jhcy havc cycs and scc not, cars and hcar not . . . "
• ! havc aÍrcady taÍkcd ot 'magic." ! uscd it hrst to dchatc thosc
who bcÍicvc that thcy think ¦Z.5.J) andthcn to trcat aÍÍ �ogics in
thcsamc way (2. 1. 11) . ! uscd it again in ordcr to crcatc an cttcct
ot symmctry bctwccn 'primitivc cuÍturcs," and 'thc modcrn
worÍd"¦J.5.4). ^ow ! want to usc it to dcscribc all crrors about
thcorigins otstrcngth, all potcncy.
4.1.2 Donottrustthoscwho anaÍyzcmagic. Jhcyarc usuaÍÍy ma-
giciansin scarch otrcvcngc.
• Ny homagc gocs to NarcAugcwho tookthcattack'cndoubÍc"
ot thc sorccrcrs ot thc !vory Coast scriousÍy ¦Augc: Iº75) . Jhis
grcatÍyhcÍpcd mcnotto takcthc attack 'cn doubÍc" byscicntists
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 2IJ
scriousÍy. Vhcn aÍÍ magics arc put onthc samc tooting, wcwiÍÍ
havc a ncw torm ot skcpticism ¦ßÍoor: Iº/6).
. 4.1.3 ConvcrscÍy, oncc torcc is sccn to Íic in thcaÍÍianccotwcak-
ncsscs,potcncy vanishcs. Òtcoursc,thctorccsarc stiÍÍthcrc,butthc
iÍÍusion ot potcncy is annihiÍatcd. Vhatcvcr dispÍaccs thc magicaÍ
ittook torm l caÍÍ an 'irrcduction."
ßcstrongmaybc, butpotcntncvcr. KiÍÍmc,butdonotcxpcctmc
• !nlntcrÍudc !l! ! said wc shouÍd 'rcducc thc rcduccrs." ln thc oÍd
days thc struggÍc against magic was caÍÍcd thc 'LnÍightcnmcnt,"
tricd to iÍÍuminatc thc shadows otobscurantismhas sinccbccomc
thcwarhcad otthc missiÍc thatwiÍÍbÍinduswithÍight ¦!crhapsit
casc, Íctus prcparc torattcrthcncxtwar.)
4.1.4 Vhcn a nctwork conccaÍs its principÍc ot association, ! say
it up is visibÍc, ! saythat itdispÍays 'torcc. "
4. 1. 5 VcarcsuttcringnottromtooÍitt!cbuttromtoomuchspirit.
Jhcspirit, aÍas, ncvcrÍivcsuptothcleter. 5piritisonÍyatcwwords,
amongmanyto whichthc mcaning otaÍÍthc othcrwords isuntairÍy
attributcd. 5pirit thus bccomcs a potcnt iÍÍusion. VcriÍy, ! say unto
you, thc spirit is wcak but thc Ícttcr is wiÍÍing.
• Vhcnthcy spcak, thosc who arc rcÍigious put thc cart bctorc thc
horsc. Howcvcr, inpracticc thcy act guitc dittcrcntÍy. Jhcy cÍaim
thattrcscocs, staincd gÍasswindows,praycrs, andgcnuhcctionarc
simpÍy ways ot approaching God, his distant rchcction. Yct thcy
to crcatc a tocaÍ point tor thc potcncy ot thc divinc. Jhc mystics
know wcÍÍ that it aÍÍ thc cÍcmcnts that arc said to bc pointcrs arc
abandoncd,thcnaÍÍmatisÍcttismchorribÍcnightot^ada ¦ I.4.6. I) .
Ícttcr is to kiÍÍ thc gooscthatÍays thc goÍdcn cggs.
whosc powcr wc prctcr to attributcto a tcw.
• '5cicncc" cxists no morcthan 'Íanguagc" ¦Z.4.J) or'thcmodcrn
worÍd"¦J. 5. Z).
4.1.7 ÑhatwccaÍÍ 'scicncc"ischoscninarathcrrandom manncr
trom a motÌcy crowd ot actants. Jhough it rcprcscnts thc othcrs, it
dcnics this tact ¦J. 4. 6).
• Jhoscwho caÍÍthcmscÍvcs 'scicntists" aÍways putthc cart bctorc
thc horsc whcn thcy taÍk, though in practicc thcy gct things thc
rightway round. Jhcy cÍaimthatÍaboratorics, Íibrarics, mcctings,
hcId notcs, instrumcnts, and tcxts arc onÍy ways and means ot
Íibrarics, and instrumcnts in ordcr to crcatc a tocaÍpoint torthc
potcncy ottruth. KationaÍists know vcry wcÍÍ that it this subor-
dinatc matcriaÍ Íitc wcrc supprcsscd, thcy wouÍd bc torccd into
siÍcncc. A purcÍy scicntihc scicncc wouÍd rid us otscicntists. Îor
4. 1. 8 JhcyarcskcpticaÍandunbcÍicvingaboutwitchcsandpricsts,
but whcn it comcs to scicncc, thcy arc crcduÍous. Jhcy saywithout
thc sÍightcst hcsitation that its cthcacy dcrivcs trom its 'mcthod,"
'Íogic," 'rigor," or 'ob¡cctivity"¦Z. I. 0) . Îowcvcr, thcy makc thc
potcncyto his incantations. ßcÍíct in thc cxistcncc ot 'scicncc" has
itsrctormcrs, butitdocsnothavcitsskcptics, cvcnÍcssitsagnostics.
4. 1.º 5incc nothing is by itscÍt cithcr rcducibÍc or irrcducibÍc to
anythingcÍsc¦ I. I. 1) , thcrccannotbctcstsandwcakncsscs onthconc
hand and something else on the other ¦ 1. I.Z, I. I.5.Z, Z.J.4, Z.4.J,
Z.5. I) . Îowcvcr,thccunningot'scicncc" ¦4. I./)dividcstorccs,mak-
ing somc sccm strong whiÍc othcrs Íook 'truc" or 'rcasonabÍc."
but triaÍs otstrcngth. ßut cvcn 'in scicncc" thcrc arc onÍy triaÍs ot
strcngth. Jhis mcans that thc irrcduction ot 'scicncc" is both ncc-
cssary and dithcuÍt-ncccssary bccausc it has bccomc thc only ob
stacle which stands inthcwayotourcscapingtrom magic, dithcuÍt
bccausc itisourÍastiÍÍusion, andwhcnwcdctcndit, wc bcÍicvc that
wcarc dctcnding our most sacrcd inhcritancc.
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 215
to a critiguc ot 'scicncc," tor thcrc is nothing vcry spcciaÍ about
Interlude VII: In Which We Learn Why This Precis Says
Nothing Favorable about Epistemology
We would like to be able to escape from politics (3.6.3). We would like there
to be, somewhere, a way of knowing and convincing which differs from
compromise and tinkering: a way of knowing that does not depend upon a
gathering of chance, impulse, and habit. We would like to be able to get
away from the trials of strength and the chains of weakness. We would like
to be able to read the original texts rather than translations, to see more
clearly, and to listen to words less. ambiguous than those of the Sibyl.
In the old days we imagined a world of gods where the harsh rules of
compromise were not obeyed. But now this very world is seen as obscurantist
and confused, contrasted with the exact and effcient world of the experts.
"We are," we say, "immersed in the habits of the past by our parents, our
priests, and our politicians. Yet there is a way of knowing and acting which
escapes from this confusion, absolutely by its principles and progressively by
its results: this is a method, a single method, that of 'science.' "
This is the way we have talked since Descartes, and there are few educated
people on earth today who have not become Cartesian trough having leared
geometry, economics, accountancy, or thermodynamics. Everywhere we di
rect our best brains toward the extension of "science." It is with them that
we lodge our greatest, indeed often our only, hopes. Nowhere more than in
the evocation of this kingdom of knowledge do we create the impression
that there is another transcendental world. It is only here that there is sanc
tuary. Politics has no rights here, and the laws that rule the other worlds are
suspended. This extraterritorial status, available only to te "sciences," makes
it possible for believers to dream, like the monks of Cluny, about recon
quering the barbarians. "Why not rebuild this chaotic, badly organized world
of compromise in accordance with the laws of our world?"
So what is this difference which, like Romulus and his plough, makes it
possible to draw the limes that divide the scientifc from other ways of
knowing and convincing? A furrow, to be sure, an act of appropriation, an
enclosure in the middle of nowhere, which follows up no "natural" frontier,
an act of violence. Yes, it is another trial of strength which divides the forces
putting might on one side and right on the other.
But surely this difference must represent something real since it is so radical,
so total, and so absolute? Admittedly the credo of this religion is poor. All
that it offers is a tautology. "To know" scientifcally is to know "scientif
cally." Epistemology is nothing but the untiring affrmation of this tautology.
Abandon everything; believe in nothing except this: there is a scientifc way
of knowing, and other ways, such as, the "natural," the "social," or the
"magical." All the failings of epistemology-its scorn of history, its rejection
of empirical analysis, its pharisaic fear of impurity-are its only qualities,
the qualities that are sought for in a frontier guard. Yes, in epistemology
belief is reduced to its simplest expression, but this very simplicity brings
success because it can spread easily, aided by neither priest nor seminary.
Of course, I am exaggerating. The faith has some kind of content. T ech
nically, it is the negation of the paragraph with which I started this precis
( 1. 1.2). Since the gods were destroyed, this faith has become the main obstacle
that stands in the way of understanding the principle of irreduction. Its only
function is passionately to deny that there are only trials of strength. "Be
instant in season, out of season," to say that "there is something in addition,
there is also reason." This cry of the faithful conceals the violence that it
perpetrates, the violence of forcing this division.
All of which is to say that this precis, which prepares the way for the
analysis of science and technology, is not epistemology, not at all.
4.2. 1 '5cicncc" -inguotationmarks-docsnotcxist.!tisthcnamc
that has bccn pastcd onto ccrtain scctions ot ccrtain nctworks, as-
sociationsthatarcso sparsc andtragiÍcthatthcywouÍdhavccscapcd
attcntion aÍtogcthcr itcvcrything had not bccn attributcd to thcm.
• Jwoto thrccpcrccntotthc G^! otatcwindustriaÍ nations, two-
thirds otwhich is spcnt on industry and tor miÍitary purposcs-
undcrstand it at aÍÍ. !or biÍÍions ot othcrs aÍÍ thcsc nctworks arc
4.2.2 '5cicncc" has no standingotits own. !t takcs shapc onÍyby
dcnying what carricd it to powcr and by attributing its soÍidity not
to what hoÍds but to what is hcÍd togcthcr (2.4.7). Vith this dcniaÍ
'it" ignorcs cvcn itscÍt.
• !t thc mongrcl tribcs that do thc dirty work wcrc withhcÍd trom
'physics," its cÍucubrations couÍd notbcdistinguishcdtromthosc
thcrcwcrc not so manytribcs r
4.2.3 '5cicncc" is an artihciaÍcntityscparatcdtromhctcrogcncous
nctworks byunjust means. Jhcrc arctwomcasurcs, onctorthc'sci-
cntists" andthcothcrtorthc rcst.
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 217
ßut i tan iÍÍustrious scicntist rcnounccs a discrcditcd hypothcsis,
thcnon thc contraryhc is hcÍd to bc showing disintcrcstcdncss. It
an untortunatc witch attributcs succcss in battÍc to a magic ritc,
shc is mockcd tor hcr crcduÍity. ßut ita ccÍcbratcd rcscarchcr at-
tributcs thc succcss othcr Íaboratory to a rcvoÍutionary idca, no
onc Íaughs, cvcn though cvcryonc shouÍd. Jhc thought ot making
a rcvoÍution with idcas | It consumcrs cut thcir stcak into smaÍÍ
phiÍosophcr in Amstcrdam asscrts that wc must 'dividc up cach
ot thc dithcuÍtics into as many parts as possibÍc," no grcatcr ad-
miration couÍd bc cxprcsscd tor 'a mcthod otrightÍy conducting
Ïoppcrian zcaÍottaÍks ot'taÍsihcation,"pcopÍc arc rcadyto scc a
protound mystcry. ßutita windowcÍcancr movcs hishcadto scc
whcthcr thc smcar hc wants to cÍcan is on thc insidc or outsidc,
no onc marvcÍs. It a young coupÍc movc a piccc ot turniturc in
than tabÍcs arc movcd, thcn pcopÍc taÍk cxcitcdÍy ot a Kuhnian
'paradigm shitt. " I am vuÍgar, but this is csscntiaÍ in a domain
whcrcin¡usticcis soprotound. JhcyÍaugh atthoscwho bcÍicvc in
Ícvitation but cÍaim,withoutbcingcontradictcd,thatthcoricscan
raisc thc worÍd.
4.2.4 '5cicncc" onÍy givcsthc imprcssionotcxisting byturningits
cxistcnccintoapermanent miracle. UnabÍctoadmititstrucaÍÍics,it
is torccd to cxpÍain onc marvcÍ with anothcr, and that onc with a
third. It gocs on untiÍ itÍooks ¡ust Íikc atairytaÍc.
• 5omc say that it is a miracÍc that 'mathcmatics is appÍicabÍc to
about thc univcrsc is that it`s at aÍÍ comprchcnsibÍc." 5tiÍÍ othcrs
cxprcss amazcmcnt that thc Íaws otphysics 'arc univcrsaÍÍy ap·
pÍicabÍc," that ^cwton discovcrcd thcm, and that Linstcin rcvo-
Íutionizcd thcm. '5cicncc" bccomcs truÍy a circus sidcshow with
gcniuscs, rcvoÍutions, and dci cx machina. ßut no onctaÍks otthc
chambcr ot horrors down bcÍow. Vcn wc bccomc agnostic, wc
havc to admitthat most pÍaccs otscicntihc piÍgrimagc Íook much
Íikc Lourdcs, butmorc guÍÍibÍc stiÍÍ, tor thcy mock Lourdcs |
4.2.5 '5cicncc" is a sanctuary onÍy so Íong aswctrcatthcwinncrs
• ^obody can scparatc thc 'intcrnaÍ" history ot scicncc trom thc
'cxtcrnaÍ" history otits aÍÍics. Jhc tormcr docs not count as his-
tory at aÍÍ. At bcst it is court historiography, at worst thc Lcg-
cndsotthc 5aints. Jhc Íattcris notthc history ot 'scicncc," it is
in¡usticc,asymmctry, ignorancc,crcduÍity,anddcniaÍ. !t'scicncc" is
4.3.1 '5cicncc" is much too ramshackÍc to taÍk about. Vc must
spcakinstcadotthe allies whichccrtainnctworksuscto makcthcm-
scÍvcs strongcrthan othcrs ( 1. 3;1, 2.4. 1, 3. 3. 1) . ln this way wc wiÍÍ
scc torcc instcad otpotcncy ( 4. 1. 5) .
4.3.2 KnowÍcdgc docs not cxist-what wouÍditbc ( 1.4.3) ? Jhcrc
aÍÍ cÍaims to thc contrary, cratts hoÍd thc kcy to knowÍcdgc. Jhcy
makc it possibÍc to rcturn 'scicncc" to thc nctworks trom which it
4.3.3 Vcdonot think. Vc donothavc idcas (2.5. 4). Kathcr thcrc
is thc action ot writing, an action which invoÍvcs working with in
talking to othcr pcopÍc who Íikcwiscwritc, inscribc, taÍk, andÍivc in
simiÍarÍyunusuaÍpÍaccs, anactionthatconvinces ortaiÍsto convincc
with inscriptions which arc madc to spcak, to writc, and to bc rcad
(3. 1.0, 3. 1 .9) .
• Vhcn wc taÍk ot 'thought," cvcn thc most skcpticaÍ Íosc thcir
criticaÍ tacuÍtics. Likc vuÍgar sorccrcrs, thcy Íct 'thought" travcÍ
who is not crcduÍous whcn it comcs to idcas. Yct 'thought" is
rcaÍÍyguitc simpÍc, torwhcnwcwritcaboutothcrinscriptions, wc
arc torgottcn, thc matcriaÍs that arc uscd to makc 'thought" in-
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 219
4.3.4 Dcspitc aÍÍ imprcssions to thc contrary, standing bywhat is
writtcn on ashcctotpapcraÍoncis ariskytradc.Îowcvcrthistradc
isno morc miracuÍousthanthat otthcpaintcr,thcscaman,thc tight-
ropc waÍkcr, orthc bankcr.
• !t is intcrcsting to scc thc Grcck ÍcaningovcrthcbÍindingsurtacc
ot thc parchmcnt and obscssivcÍy toÍÍowing thc incisions ot thc
styÍus, cvcn whcn thcsc Ícad to sophisms. !t is tascinating to scc
thc Church !athcrssprcadingoutthcdittcrcntvcrsionsotthcsamc
tcxt and Ícarning to pÍy thc tradc ot cxcgcsis, thc mothcr ot all
scicntihc discipÍincs. !t is stimuÍating to toÍÍow thc !taÍian as hc
¦Liscnstcin: 1975) . !tis tascinatingto study, as!didtortwoycars,
thc nccdÍcs that scratch thc drums ot physiographs, to scc how
traps arc sctto makcthc things that arc taÍkcd aboutwritc (3. 1.5)
and spcak dircctÍy tothosc whom onc wishcs to convincc. Jhcsc
bizarrc tcxts, which arc not sacrcd writings but inscriptions pro-
duccd by rat visccra or thc opcn hcarts ot dogs, arc strangcÍy
aÍÍuring. Jhcy arc aÍÍ vcry bcautituÍ, ! agrcc. Jhcy rcprcscnt a Íot
ot work and much dcxtcrity, but thcy arc not miracuÍous. Jhcrc
is nothing immatcriaÍinthc cndÍcss brcakingotbindings, cÍicking
ot pcns, cÍattcring ot daisy whccÍs, and scratching otstyÍi. Jhcrc
diagrams, and spcctra.
thcm| Jhcy Ícan ovcr thcir writing and taÍk to onc anothcr inside
thcirÍaboratorics. Look atthcm| JhcironÍyprincipÍc otrcaÍityisonc
that thcy havc dctcrmincd thcmscÍvcs ( 1.2.7) . Look at thcm| Jhc
¨cxtcrnaÍ"rctcrcnts thcy crcatcdcxist onÍy inside thcirworÍd (1.2.7. 1) .
4.4. 1 VhatcvcrisÍocaÍ aÍways stays thatway. ^o kindotwork is
more ÍocaÍ than anyothcrunÍcss it has bccn congucrcd ( 1.2.4) and
torccd toyicÍda tracc. Jhcnit can bcworkcdon in its absence.
Ícarncdto rccognizc hundreds of thousands otsigns andmarks is
caÍÍcd a 'ÍocaÍ." ßut a cartographcrwho has Ícarncd to rccognizc
a few hundred signs and indiccs whiÍc Ícaning ovcr a tcw sguarc
yards otmaps and acriaÍphotographs is saidto bcmorc univcrsaÍ
than thc huntcr and to havc a gÍobaÍ vision. Vhich oncwouÍd bc
morc Íost in thc tcrritory oIthc othcrr UnÍcss wc IoÍÍow thc Íong
history that hasturncdthc huntcrinto a sÍavc and thc mapmakcr
into amastcr,wccanhavcnoanswcrtothisgucstion. Jhcrcisno
4.4.2 'GcncraÍ idcas" canbcbuiÍt, butto do soisnomorc andno
Ícss diIhcuÍt thanbuiÍding a raiÍroad nctwork. Vchavcto payIor a
'gcncraÍ idca. " Vc cannot movc Irom onc tabÍc to anothcrvia thc
conccpt oI 'tabÍc." Jo movc, wc nccd a nctwork as cxpcnsivc to
maintain as a raiÍroad systcm, withits shuntcrs, its strikingraiÍroad-
mcn, its accountants, and its signaÍs.
• 5choÍarsundcrstandthcprincipÍcoIthc 'privatizationoIbcnchts,
thc nationaÍization oI Íosscs" vcry wcÍÍ. Jhcy Ícad us to bcÍicvc
thatthcythinkandthatidcas arcIrcc, butthcnthcyaskustopay
IorthcirÍaboratorics,thcirÍccturcthcatcrs,andmcirÍibrarics ¦4. I.º).
4.4.3 Vhcn a scrics oIÍocationshasbccn mastcrcd and¡oincd to-
gcthcr inanctwork,itispossibÍcto movcIromoncpÍaccto anothcr
without noticing thc work that Íinks thcm togcthcr. One Íocation
sccms 'potcntiaÍÍy" to contain aÍÍ thc othcrs. ! am happyto caÍÍthc
¡argonuscdto gctbyinsidcthcscnctworks'thcory," asÍongas itis
undcrstood that this is Íikcthc signposts andÍabcÍs that wc usc to
oIhnancicrs, oIwhitc-coatcdpcopÍcwho countinÍight-ycars and
wcigh things by thc picogram. Îow can thcy aÍÍ undcrstand onc
anothcrr Jhcy do not havc thc samc dcstinations. ^or do thcy
movc aÍong thc samc Íincs oIIorcc ormanipuÍatcthc samc traccs.
Vhatwc caÍÍ 'thcory" isno morc andno ÍcssrcaÍthan a subway
map inthc subway ¦Z. I./)
4.4.4 'UnivcrsaÍity" is as ÍocaÍ as thc rcst. UnivcrsaÍity cxists onÍy
• !IcvcrythinghappcnsÍocaÍÍyandonÍyoncc¦ I.Z. I) andiIoncpÍacc
cannot bc rcduccd to anothcr, thcn how can onc pÍacc contain
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 221
may bcÍinkcdtoa hcadguartcrs. Jhc othccrs otthc 5tratcgic Air
Command may work on a map otthc worÍd that mcasurcs thrcc
mctcrs by tour. AÍÍ thc cÍocks in thc worÍd may bc synchronizcd
ita univcrsaÍ timc is buiÍt. I simpÍywantthc costotcrcatingthcsc
to thc biÍÍ.
4.4.5 5o you bcÍicvc that thc appÍication ot mathcmatics to thc
physicaÍworÍdisamiracÍcr Itso,thcnIinvitcyouto admircanothcr
miracÍc, I can travcÍ around thc worÍd with my Amcrican Lxprcss
card. You say otthc sccond, 'Jhat`s ¡ust anctwork. Ityou stcp out
ot it by so much as an inch, your card wiÍÍ bcvaÍucÍcss." Quitc so.
Jhis is what I am saying about mathcmatics and scicncc, nothing
more and nothing less.
• Jhc sccond-dcgrcc cguation has an arca otdittusion that can bc
mappcdÍikc cvcrything cÍsc. Its invcntion, transÍation, and incor-
wc documcntthc sprcad otthcharncss,thcstcm-mountcdruddcr,
thc bow tic, thc cÍock cscapcmcnt, or intcÍÍigcncc tcsts. ßut wc
cannot rcsist scparating tradcs into two hcaps. 5omc arc hrmÍy
cmbcddcd in thcir contcxts, whiÍc othcrs hoat Íikc spirits out ot
to stop thcm trom rcturning attcr dark to haunt us.
4.4.5. 1 Jhc 'univcrsaÍ" canno morc swaÍÍow thc particuÍar than
or itthcyarc, thc namc rctcrs to a styÍc, Íikc abstractpainting.
• Vhcn somconc taÍks to mc about a univcrsaÍ, I aÍways ask what
sizcitis, andwhoispro¡cctingitontowhatscrccn. IaÍsoaskhow
many pcopÍc maintain it and how much it costs to pay thcm. I
know that this is in badtastc, butthc kingis nakcd and sccms to
bc cÍothcd onÍy bccauscwc bcÍicvc inthc univcrsaÍ.
4.4.6 Îow arc 'abstraction," 'tormaÍism," 'cxactncss," and 'pu-
rity" achicvcdr Likcchccsc,byhÍtcring,sccding,moÍding,andaging.
Òr Íikc pctroÍ, by rchning, cracking, and distiÍÍing. Vc nccd dairics
and rchncrics. Jhcsc arc aÍÍ cxpcnsivc proccsscs, impurc cratts that
126.96.36.199 Jhcwork otabstractionisno morcabstractthanthcwork
otthc cngravcr, thc trade ot thc tormaÍizcr is no morc tormaÍ than
that ot thc butchcr, thc work otpurihcation is no morc purc than
thatotthc sanitary inspcctor.·o saythatsomcproccdurcs arcpurc,
tormaÍ, or abstractis to contusc a vcrb withan ad¡cctivc. Vc might
(2.2. 1) .
4.4.8 Ictworks arc tcnuous, tragíÍc, and sparsc. Vc rcad and wc
writc insidc thcm. Vc arc abÍc to convincc onÍy by cxtcnding thc
cansurvcycvcrything. What could be simpler? Jhcrcisnothinghcrc
to makc a tuss about.
Interlude VIII: In Which a Little Bit of Everyday Sociology
Shows What Measures Are
The butcher used his scale, and I paid 25 francs. I did not try to bargain
with him because the prices were on little tags stuck in the meat. He had
decided on the price per kilo after he returned from the wholesale market
and read his trade newspaper. When I left the shop, I took the No. 80 bus.
I knew it was the 80 because the number was clearly displayed on the front
of the bus. When the driver heard the signal from the bus company head
quarters, he set off. This signal was relayed from the speaking clock of the
Observatory of Paris, which was linked in its turn to the network of atomic
clocks that harmonize time. I was not afraid of the ticket inspector. I had
my bus pass, so the inspector checked my photograph, said "thank you"
politely, and moved on. When I arrived at the Institute, I put my magnetic
card into the electronic timekeeping clock which keeps track of the number
of hours that we put in and their spread. There had been an argument with
the unions about this clock for four years. Finally an agreement was reached,
thanks to collective bargaining with The National Association of the Workers
of the Proof (NA WOP). I still have ffteen hours to do this week.
After hanging up my coat, I went straight to see how my cells were getting
on. The colonies had become quite visible. I counted the spots that they had
made on the gel and wrote the results down in two columns in my laboratory
notebook-a fne book, leather bound, just like my father's account book.
I discussed yesterday's results with Dietrich, but his peaks are much clearer.
He claimed that his neurotransmitter was a hundred times more active than
mine, but I told him that we could argue for hours about it because he had
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 223
not got enough points to draw a curve. Dietric is still young. He is always
jumping to conclusions. We talked for several hours. Finally he accepted that
I was not going to use his work in my article. I do not want to weaken it
and have people jumping on it saying that the results do not stand up. I want
the article to be beyond reproach and accepted immediately by the referees
of Endocrinology. Dietrich took my refusal badly. He looked quite crestfallen.
He is too easily discouraged for this line of work. Fortunately he then bucked
up and decided to do another series of rats in order to strengthen his data.
If these turn out to be solid then I will use them. They might even reinforce
my point, in which case I will make him junior co-author. This would not
weaken my position.
In the canteen we discussed the forthcoming elections. As long as there
are only opinion polls, we can argue about the relative position of the So
cialists and the Communists until the cows come home. These polls do not
count. Like Dietrich's rats, their samples are too small. Wat is needed is a
truly grand experiment in which all the votes are counted and everyone can
see that everything is aboveboard. Only then will we know wheter te
Communists are two percent weaker then the Socialists.
Then Brunel came along, and we chatted. He is an economist, and we are
always teasing him because he claims to be a scientist. He admitted tat we
cannot tell whether the money supply is increasing or decreasing. There have
been three meetings in his department to decide whether or not to include
the discount bills between banks, or someting like tat. It seems that taking
out a single line of the calculation makes it possible to change the results
completely and prove that we have beaten inflation. It is quite incredible,
but as Brunel replied when we teased him about it, "You've got more rats
around than I've got economies. "
Even so, our rats are threatened, as we discovered after lunch when we
met in the lab. We have to fnd half a million dollars to pay for all the rats
that we need for our ffty articles a year. We will manage somehow.
In the evening I met Adele. She had made a mistake when she was taking
her temperature and was worried. We discussed her temperature curve for
half an hour, but in the end she accepted my word because I am always tak
ing the temperatures of rats. I told her that it would be more sensible to
take the pill, as I do. Then all you have to do is to read which day it is
and take the right pill. You cannot make a mistake; it is as simple as a bus
pass. Then we went home to meet our men. The moment Adele told them
she was worried, they wanted to persuade her that really her subconscious
was speaking. She does not know much about it, but they sounded as if they
knew what they were talking about. Finally she gave up. As she put it, "You're
not allowed to have private problems. You've got to lie on the psychiatrist's
couch and discuss them." Henry told her that she was just the same wit
her cosmology. Yesterday she went on for hours trying to persuade us that
the Big Bang was a load of nonsense. Henry had said that perhaps there
were several cosmologies. She thought this was nonsense.
It was late, so we went home. We argued for a quarter of an hour with
the driver, who wanted to add ten percent to the meter reading. I told him
I would never do that with my rats, add ten percent for no reason. He replied
that it was a unilateral decision taken by the taxi owner's association which
was in dispute with the City Council. We end up paying either way. In the
mail I found my pay check with a further one percent deducted with the
agreement of the union to pay for an increased social security levy. I set my
clock and checked the alarm three times so that I would not worry all night
that I might wake up late.
4.5.1 !n scicntihctradcs, as in aÍÍ othcrs, wc Ícarnhowto incrcasc
ourtorccÍocaÍÍy ¦Ïart Ònc) .
thc tact that Íots ot smaÍÍ ob¡ccts arc manipuÍatcd many timcs, that
thcsc microcvcnts can bc rccordcd, that thcy can bc rcrcad at wiÍÍ,
andthatthcwhoÍcproccss can bcwrittcntorpcopÍcto rcad. 5kiÍÍis
nccdcd and Íots ot moncy, but witchcrattis not invoÍvcd.
• !t docs not mattcr whcthcr thcy arc ncbuÍas, coraÍs, Íascrs, mi-
crobcs, Gross ^ationaÍ Ïroducts, or!.Q.scorcs. !tdocsnotmattcr
whcthcr thcy arc 'inhnitcÍy Íargc" or 'inhnitcÍy smaÍÍ. "Jhcy arc
onÍytaÍkcdaboutwith confdence whcnthcyarcbroughttoasmaÍÍ
spaccwhcrc thcy can bc dominatcdby atcwpcopÍc and madc to
dispÍay signs-curvcs, hgurcs, points, rays, or bands-which arc
188.8.131.52 JhcruÍcisguitcsimpÍc: itwcwantto incrcascourstrcngth,
usc a thousand against onc ontopicsthatwiÍÍpayahundrcdto onc.
• !mag�nc an anthrax baciÍÍus which has ÍivcdtormiÍÍionsotycars
hiddcn in thc crowd ot its cousins. Ònc day it hnds itscÍt aÍonc
with its chiÍdrcn undcr thc bÍinding Íight ot a microscopc that is
dominatcd byÏastcur`scnormousbcard. !t has nothingto Íivc on
buturinc ¦Ïart Ònc) . Jhis is a good cxampÍc ota rcvcrsaÍ in thc
baÍancc ot torccs. Docsn't cxactncss aÍways grow out ot such rc-
vcrsaÍsr !t rcaÍÍy rcguircs thc bÍindncss ottaith to ignorcthc triaÍs
ot strcngth that takc pÍacc in thc torturc chambcrs ot scicncc-
bioassays, tcnsimctcrs, Íincar acccÍcrators, prcsscs, nccdÍcs, sty-
Íuscs, vacuumpumps, caÍorimctcrs. Jo rcmainbÍindinthctacc ot
[rreduction of "the Sciences" 225
thosc triaÍs is what 'couragcousÍy rcsisting mc question" rcaÍÍy
amountsto| Jhosc who bcÍicvc in 'sciçncc" inspitcotthisarcthc
4.5.3 5o thcyarc morc ccrtain otthcmscÍvcs than othcrs arcr Òt
courscthcyarc|Jhcyhavctricdthcir argumcnts outdozcns ottimcs
onsmaÍÍ-scaÍcmodcÍs andmadcaÍÍpossibÍcmistakcs. ÒbviousÍythcy
arc morc ccrtain than thosc who onÍyhavc onc go.
• Jhcrcspcctcd cxpcrt is indistinguishabÍc trom thc poÍitician who
is scorncd by cvcryonc. Jhc cxpcrt makcs Íargc numbcrs otsccrct
smaÍÍ-scaÍc mistakcs and conhdcntÍy cmcrgcs trom hiding at the
end of the day. JhcpoÍiticianmakcsrcaÍÍygrandmistakcs andhas
to pcrtorm in tront otcvcryonc. Îcrc thc dccisions arc madc¬
before thcmistakcs ¦J. 6.J) . AÍÍ pcopÍc arcthcsamc-cguaÍÍyhon-
cst, cguaÍÍycrratic. Îow couÍdthcy possibÍy bcothcrwiscr
4.5.4 Jhc onÍy wayto bc strong again is torcproduccrcÍationsot
torcc thatwcrconcctavorabÍc. There is no such thing as prediction.
Ícarning how to rcpcat thc drcss rchcarsaÍ-though this docs not
Ïastcur, 5hakcspcarc, and^A5AarcindistinguishabÍc. !tthcyhad
to improvisc or prcdict, thcy wouÍd ¡abbcr incohcrcntÍy Íikc thc
Ïythia,¡ustaswc dowh�nwcÍcavcthc shcÍtcr ot ourtradcs.And
5hakcspcarc wouÍd probabÍy bc Ícss incohcrcnt than any ot thc
othcrs. !n thc thcatcr otproot, orinthc thcatcr, pÍain andsimpÍc,
couÍd thcy bc dittcrcntr
4.5.5 1hc onÍy wayto knowisthroughtriaÍs otstrcngth. 'KnowÍ-
itr ( 1. 1.0) .
• Jhc scicntists say that thcy rcaU concÍusions in thc Íaboratory,
'cvcrything cÍsc bcing cguaÍ," but thcn thcytorgct,prctcrringto
travcÍ by magic to othcr pÍaccs andÍcgisÍating as itthcy wcrc stiÍÍ
4.5.6 Pothing can bc known outsidc thc nctworks organizcd and
manipuÍatcd by know-how ¦ I.J./), but thosc nctworks may bc cx-
4.5.7 Jhcrc is no such thing as 'knowÍcdgc" ¦4.J.2), but it is pos-
sibÍctorcaÍizc, thatis, to makcrcaÍ,to undcrstand.
• Jhcmystcry otadequatio rei et intellectus is simpÍythccxtcnsion
otthc Íaboratory. !twc do not bcÍicvc in magic, this cxtcnsion is
but onÍy narrow gaÍÍcrics which aÍÍow Íaboratoricstocxtcnd and
insinuatc thcmscÍvcs into pÍaccs that may bc tar away.
184.108.40.206 Pothing cscapcs trom a nctwork, Icast ot aÍÍ know-how,
'Ïrovc to mc that this substancc which works so wcÍÍ in Ïaris is
cguaÍÍy good inthcsuburbs otJimbuktu."
'ßutwhaton carth torr Jhcrcis aunivcrsaÍÍaw."
'!don'twanttohavcto believe in it. ! want to see it."
'|ustwaituntiÍ!havcbuiÍtaÍaboratory,and!`ÍÍprovcittoyou. . . "
Atcwycars and a tcw miÍÍion doÍÍars Íatcr inthc brand-ncwÍab-
travcÍ a tcw miÍcs, and posc thc gucstion again.
'Ïrovcto mcthat. . . "
• Vhcn pcopÍc say that knowÍcdgc is 'univcrsaIÍy truc," wc must
undcrstandthatitisÍikc raiÍroads, whicharctoundcvcrywhcrc in
thc worÍd but onÍy to a Íimitcd cxtcnt. Jo shitt to cÍaiming that
Íocomotivcs can movc bcyond thcir narrow and cxpcnsivc raiÍs is
anothcr mattcr. Yct magicians try to dazzÍc us with 'univcrsaÍ
Íaws" which thcy cÍaim to bc vaÍid cvcn inthc gaps bctwccn thc
in Îong Kong, or muÍtipÍication tabÍcs | Jhcrc must bc buycrs and
scÍÍcrs, tcachcrs and commcrciaÍ circuits, rcprcscntativcs and books
that archcÍdto bc authoritativc.
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 227
• VcsaythatthcÍawsot^cwtonmaybctound in Gabonandthat
thisis guitc rcmarkabÍcsinccthatisaÍongwaytromLngÍand. ßut
! havc sccn Lcpctitcamcmbcrts in thc supcrmarkcts ot CaÍitornia.
AngcÍcs. Lithcr thcrc arc two miracÍcs that havc to bc admircd
togcthcr in thc samc way, orthcrc arc nonc.
thcrc havccvcrbccnonÍythrccwaysotccÍcbratingit: consistcncy-
thrcc cxprcssions simpÍy scrvc to indicatc thc cxtcnt to which a nct-
work has cxpandcd.
• !n kitchcn Latin wc wouÍd say adequatio laboratii et laboratorii;
adequatio laboratorii et alius laboratis, adequatio laboratorii et
4.5.8 Ònctormotknow-howisnomorc'truc"thananothcr. !t is
ncithcr morc nor Ícss tructhana cottccpot, a trcc, or achiÍd`stacc.
Jhcrcthcyarc, amomcntariÍystabÍcÍinc ottorccs ( 1. 1. 6) . Jhcword
'truc" is a suppÍcmcnt addcd to ccrtain triaÍs ot strcngth to dazzÍc
thosc who might stiÍÍ gucstion thcm.
• KationaÍists Íaugh atthc ordcaÍwhich makcs thc victorincombat
right. Îowcvcr, cach day thcy crownthc victors in scicntihc con-
minds | Jhcrc arc two mc asurcs, two standards (4.2.3) .
4.5.9 Vc can say that whatcvcr rcsists i srcaÍ ( 1 . 1 .5) . Jhc word
'truth" adds onÍy a ÍittÍc suppÍcmcntto a triaÍ otstrcngth. !t is not
much, butitgivcsanimprcssionotpotcncy (2.5.2), whichsavcswhat
might givc way trombcingtcstcd.
tor Íong ( 1 .3. 6) , tor thc statcmcnts that comc trom Íaboratorics
stand up, rcsist, and arc thus rcaÍ (2.4.7). ßutthcy arc right: this
is no rcason to bcÍicvc in tairy taÍcs.
4.5.10 !t somcthing rcsists, it crcatcs thc opticaÍ iÍÍusion among
causing this rcsistancc. ßut thc ob¡cct is an cttcct, not a causc. Jhc
iÍÍusion disappcars whcn thc battÍcIront movcs and discrcctÍy rcap-
pcars as soon as thc battÍcIront stabiÍizcs again.
• 'KcaÍ worÍds out thcrc" arc thc conscgucnccs oI Íincs oI stabÍc
Iorcc and notthc causc oIthcir stabiÍization.
4.5. 11 Vc canpcrIorm, transIorm, dcIorm, andthcrcbyIormand
inIorm ourscÍvcs, but wc cannot describe anything. !n othcr words
thcrc is no rcprcscntation, cxccptin thc thcatricaÍ or poÍiticaÍ scnscs
workwith thc hands brings inscriptions that arc rcad bythc cycs.
!crhaps cpistcmoÍogy is a conIusion oIthc scnscs. Vc IoÍÍow thc
dazzÍcdgazc butIorgct thchandsthatwritc, combinc,andmount.
ßut thcrc is no 'thcory, "no 'contcmpÍation," no 'spccuÍation,"
no 'prcvision," no 'vision," and no 'knowÍcdgc." !Íato's sun
ncithcr burns nor turns in thc sky. ßut insidcthcnctworks thcrc
arccÍcctrons,ÍightbuÍbs,andpro¡cctorswhich consumc cÍcctricity
arc ob¡ccts Íikc anything cÍsc. 5uchÍamps arc not surroundcd
by a haÍo oI mystcry. Jhcy arc pÍuggcd into thcir sockcts byrcaÍ
4.6. 1 VhyshouÍdwc bcsurpriscdthatthoscwho amass asurpÍus
oIIorcc and addthcirownwcightto aconIÍictwhcrcno onchasthc
4.6.2 Vhcn wc cannotwinwithourownIorccs aÍonc, wctaÍkoI
thoscwhom wc command as 'powcr," and thc baÍancc as 'knowÍ-
cdgc." ÒuropponcntsmaybcabÍcto rcsistthcadditionoI'Iorccs,"
but not thcsupcriorityoI 'knowÍcdgc" ovcr 'powcr."
bcginning may bc cxpÍaincd¦ 1. I.5.Z,4. 1. º). Jhc distinction rcIcrs
not to anything obvious but to a stratcgcm that muÍtipÍics addi-
cncc" is Íikc thc sword oIßrcnnus thrown into thc baÍancc. Ycs,
vae victis, Ior thcy wiÍÍ bc caÍÍcd 'iÍÍogicaÍ," 'bad," and 'unrca�
sonabÍc." '!romhimthat hath notshaÍÍ bctakcnawaycvcn that
which hc hath. "
220.127.116.11 !I it wcrc possibÍc to cxpÍain 'scicncc" in tcrms oI 'poÍi-
tics," thcrc wouÍd bc no scicnccs, sinccthcyarc dcvcÍopcd prcciscÍy
in ordcr to hnd othcr aÍÍics, ncw rcsourccs, and Ircshtroops.
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 229
Comtc, thctathcrotscicntismand socioÍogy,hasinvcntcdatancy
systcm ot doubÍc-cntry bookkccping. 5cicncc is not poÍitics. It is
poÍitics by othcr mcans. ßut pcopÍc ob¡cct that 'scicncc docs not
rcducc to powcr." ÏrcciscÍy. Itdocs notrcducc to powcr. It ottcrs
other means. ßut it wiÍÍ bc ob¡cctcd again mat 'by thcir naturc,
thcywouÍd aÍrcady havc bccn uscd by an opposingpowcr. Vhat
touscrCaÍÍupthcrcscrvcs| Îomagcto5hapinand5chattcr¦ Iº85) .
4.6.3 ^ow that wc arc noÍongcr tooÍcd bythcsc mancuvcrs, wc
scc spokcsmcn ¦J. I. J) , whocvcr thcy may bc, spcaking on bchaÍt ot
otaÍÍics, somcrcÍuctant, somcbcÍÍicosc,intobattÍconcattcrthcothcr.
• Jhc hrst advanccs, toÍÍowcd by his microbcs, thc sccond, by his
angry workcrs, a third, by his whaÍcs whosc numbcrs and nccds
thc htth, by his Koran and pctrodoÍÍars, thc sixth, by thc grcat
to thc numbcrs mcy havc cnroÍÍcd. JhcyaÍÍ cstabÍish what is rcaÍ
in thc battÍctront otthcirtriaÍs. Itwctryto dividcthis crowdinto
thc human andthcnonhumanorinto thc 'poÍiticaÍ" andthc 'sci-
conhicts sayitthcy cÍd spcaktor themselves? Jhc 'samc" as thcy
arc madc to say. Vhcn bnÍÍiant dcmonstrations torcc us to contcss
thi>cvcryday, howcan thcrc bc any doubtr
sÍavcsandsub¡ugatcd actants thathavcbccnrcduccdtosiÍcncc,or
who, in tum, march to thc tunc ota handtuÍ ot 'gcat thinkcrs."
ßutitismostunÍikcÍythatthc torccs arc rcaÍÍyÍikc this.Attcr aÍÍ,
onÍytwoto mrccpcrccntotthc G^Ïotatcwcountrics circuÍatcs
insidc thc sparsc and tragiÍc nctworks ot 'scicncc." Vc might as
wcÍÍtryto rcduccaÍÍ thc¡ourncys in thcworÍdto airÍincnctworks
¦Z. I. 8. I) . An actor must havc achicvcd hcgcmony to spcakin thc
singuÍar ot 'naturc" or 'thc rcaÍ worÍd out thcrc. " Îcgcmony is
thc causc ot 'thc worÍd" in thc singuÍar, not its conscgucncc.
IÍicts and our briÍÍiant dcmonstrations say itthcy wcrc abÍc to taÍk
tor thcmscÍvcsrVc havc no idca. ^ot bccausc thcy arc unknowabÍc
¦ I.Z. IZ),nor bccausc thcy arc incttabÍc ¦Z.Z. J), but bccausc no onc
hascvcrtricd, orrathcrbccausc thoscwho havctricdhavcrcturncd
wcakcr than whcnthcy Íctt.
4.6.6 Vc stiÍÍ know vcry ÍittÍc 'ob¡cctivcÍy." Vc onÍy know any-
thingbccausc somc torccs grow atthc cxpcnsc otothcrs.Vc do not
havc thc sÍightcst idca aboutwhat Íinks othcr torccs togcthcr unÍcss
thcyact as probcs and tacts in ourÍaboratory contÍicts ¦ I. 3. I) .
4.6.7 Ònccwcrcduccthcrcductionot'scicnccs, "wc arc torccdto
contcss that 'knowÍcdgc" can cxist onÍy at thc ÍcvcÍ ottraccs-in aÍÍ
thc scnscs ot this tcrm.
• Vc ottcndistinguish bctwccn thcknowÍcdgc otthc past and that
otthc modcrn worÍd¦ J. Z.5,J. J. 0). Jhisisthc GrcatDividcwhich
prcvcnts us trom sccing that aÍÍ thcsc knowÍcdgcs havc thc samc
motor andthc samcgcncraÍ torm. thcyarcnotintcrcstcdinth¡ngs
in thcmscÍvcs, in toÍÍowing thcm aÍong their paths, thcy arc con-
ccrncd onÍy with man and thc modihcations to which hc can bc
torccd to submit. Jo spcak as wc uscdto, thcy arc 'sociaÍ, too
modcrn truths rcÍatc to cach othcr Íikc thc two rcvoÍutions ot a
singÍc spiraÍ. Jo bc surc thc tormcris smaÍÍcrthan thcÍattcr, but
thcyboth taÍÍback onsocicty.
Îowcvcr,thcy arcdittcrcnt, manitcsuydittcrcnt. Jhcsc diücrcnccs
havc nothing to do with thc criticaÍ rigor with which thcy arc
cÍaboratcd or thc prcscncc ot data. Jhc dittcrcncc Íics simpÍy in
their size. !nthcpastonÍy smaÍÍcoÍÍcctivcswcrctortihcd. 'Jhings"
wcrc pursucd simpÍy to pacity thcm. Jhis knowÍcdgc is now said
to bc taÍsc bccausc it was too smaÍÍ. Vith thc buiÍding ot biggcr
Lcviethans it bccamc ncccssary to pursuc morc things tor Íongcr,
otmorc torccs with morc Íaboratorics. ßutthc goaÍ rcmaincdthc
samc: it was stiÍÍ man who had to bc rctormcd, dctormcd, trans-
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 2JI
to bcncw is ¡ust as anthropomorphtcas itsprcdcccssors. ^o, itis
cvcnmorc so| As it bccomcs ncccssaryto congucrÍargcr numbcrs
ot pcopÍc, it is vitaÍ to strikc morc strongÍy. 5o wc admirc thc
ob¡cctivity otthc rcasons that wc havc crcatcdr ßut what do wc
want to bcright about in ordcrto strikc so strongÍy and harshÍyr
takc us r Vho can honcstÍy say that thcrc arc now morc pcopÍc
in thc pastr Jo do this mcans that wc arc wcak, not strong. !t
mcans Ícaving withoutthought otrcturn. Òritwc do comc back,
coÍÍcctions, articÍcs, or thcscs. Can wc honcstÍy say that wc havc
sccn morcpcopÍc bchaving inthiswayr
Jhc idcaÍistswcrcright: wccanonÍyknowinsotar aswc draw
togcthcrto toppÍcus. CruiscmissiÍcsorbit around Lcviathans and
sooncr orÍatcr taÍÍ back toproduccspcctacuÍarspin-otts. Jhc Co-
is Íctt is aÍmost cvcrything. Vc arc Íctt with magic-scicncc and
obtaincd, in spitc ot us aÍÍ, at thc crossroads bctwccn anthro-
morphism and ob¡cctivity.
! do not saythis bccausc !wantto sinkouronÍyÍitcboat. !sayit
bccausc !wanttoprcvcntshipwrcck, orititis aÍrcadytooÍatc, to
makc it possibÍc to survivc thc shipwrcck.
4.7.1 5inccthcrc arc onÍytics otwcakncss,thcrcarc nottwoways
popuÍar, naturaÍ, disorganizcd,orancicnt. JhcrcisonÍyoncway. Vc
aÍways Ícarn in thc samc way, without short cuts, torcsight, or cvcr
Ícaving thc nctworks that wc buiÍd. Vc makc cach mistakc as many
timcs as is ncccssary to movc trom oncpoint to anothcr.
Vc wiÍÍ ncvcr do any bcttcr ¦ 1.2. I) . Vc wiÍÍ ncvcr bc abÍc to go
any tastcr. Vc wiÍÍ ncvcr scc any morc cÍcarÍy.
• Jhc scicnccs havc aÍways bccn criticizcd in thc namc otsupcrior
torms ot knowÍcdgc that arc morc intuitivc, immcdiatc, human,
gÍobaÍ, warm, cuÍtivatcd, poÍiticaÍ, naturaÍ, popuÍar, oÍdcr, myth-
icaÍ, instinctivc, spirituaÍ, or cunning. Vc havc aÍways wantcd to
criticizc scicncc bycÍaimingthatan aÍtcrnativc issupcrior,byadd-
ing a court otappcaÍ to thc courtothrstinstancc, by asking God
orthcgodstopuncturcthcpridcotthcÍcarncdandto rcscrvc thc
supcriorto thatotthc scicnccs bccauscthcrc isno scaÍcotknowÍ-
cdgc and, in thc cnd, no knowÍcdgc at aÍÍ. Vc shouÍd dissoÍvc aÍÍ
thcdcbatcs about 'dcgrccs otknowÍcdgc"into anintcriortormot
knowÍcdgc, thc onÍy torm that wc havc. ^ot mctaphysics, but
intraphysics. As ! havc said, wc wiÍÍ ncvcr bc abÍc to risc abovc
unruÍypoÍiticking ¦ J. 6. 0).
4.7.2 Jhcrc is no such thing as supcrior knowÍcdgc and intcrior
knowÍcdgc. !twcwantto savc thcsc tcrms ataÍÍ,wcwiÍÍ havcto say
thatsomc torms otknowÍcdgc arc 'highcr" than othcrs bccauscthc
supcrior havc raiscd thcmscÍvcs with thc connivancc otthc intcrior
4.7.3 Arc thc 'scicnccs" coÍd: Kigorous : !nhumanc: Òb¡cctivc:
bccn attributcdto thcm bythcir cncmicswho thcrcby hopcdto stig-
matizc thcm ¦!ntcrÍudc V). Îot: DisordcrÍy: VioÍcnt: Anthropo-
not dcscribc thcm cithcr. 5parsc and tragiÍc, and abovc aÍÍ sparsc.
• ! do not rcproach thosc poorÍy conccivcd aggrcgatcs thatwc caÍÍ
'thc scicnccs" tor bcing too rationaÍ, but rathcr tor not undcr-
standing thc naturc ot thcir naturcs. Lct us rcducc thcm to thc
dimcnsions that thcy occupy and hnaÍÍy cscapc trommagic. 5incc
thc bcginning cpistcmoÍogy has toÍÍowcd in thc wakc ot thc sci-
cnccs, trying to bc. ÏLK!-, NLJA-, ÏAKA-, !^!KA-, 5UÏK^-sci-
cntihc.ßutthisisbcatingaroundthc bush. ÏoÍiticsisccrtainÍystiÍÍ
wc discovcr thc rcscarchcr acting as spokcsman tor siÍcnt crowds
and a ¡udiciary that tor too Íong havc cÍudcd cvcn thc most cÍc-
4.7. 3. 1 Jhoscotuswhowishto cscort'thcscicnccs"backtothcir
propcr habitat arc morc rationaÍist than most ot thc Ícarncd who
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 233
wanttocxtcnd thcm 'cndoubÍc."AtÍcastwcknow thc cost otthc
work invoÍvcd in muÍtipÍyingthosc habitats.
• Jhc gnostics shouÍd not misundcrstand: ! am not trying to makc
thcir Íivcs casicr.
4.7.4 As soon as thcrcis no othcrworÍd, pcrtcctionrcsidcsin this
onc. CompÍctc knowÍcdgcis tound inthis worÍd as soon as thcrc arc
ot knowÍcdgc arc thosc who thcn dcspair ot cvcr rcaching thc top:
thc samc rcductionists who arc aÍtcrnatcÍy drunk with powcr and
crippÍcd by impotcncc, arrogant and modcst in turn. Jhc triaÍs ot
this is possibÍc. They are not approximate. ^cithcr arc thcy vaguc,
convcntionaÍ, or sub¡cctivc. UnÍcss ncw rcÍations oÍ strcngth arc cs-
tabÍishcd, thcy do not havc too much or too ÍittÍc. !ar trom Íosing
ccrtainty, wchnaÍÍy discovcr what itwas thatÍcdto thc iÍÍusionota
knowÍcdgc bcyond unccrtainty.
4.7.5 5inccthcrc arc nottwo ways otknowing butonÍy onc, thcrc
arcnot,onthc onchand,thoscwho bowtothctorccotanargumcnt,
and, on thc othcr, thosc who undcrstand onÍy vioÍcncc. Dcmonstra-
tions arc aÍways ottorcc ¦ J. I. 8) , and thc Íincs ottorcc arc aÍways a
mcasurcotrcaÍity,its onÍymcasurc ¦ I. I.4) . Vcncvcrbowto rcason,
4.7.6 ßy bcÍicvingthc oppositc, wc aÍÍowccrtainÍincs ottorccand
ccrtainargumcntsto ruÍc abovcthc nctworkstowhichthcypropcrÍy
bcÍong. Vc crcatc potcncy ¦ I.5. I) , and by so doing, wc wcakcn aÍÍ
• Jhcrc arc, thcy say, rcasonabÍc mcn, who yicÍd onÍy to thc torcc
bÍindÍy to torcc without undcrstanding. ! havc ncvcr mct anyonc
who did not scornthc unrcasonabÍc and who did notbcÍicvc that
this scorn cpitomizcd virtuc.
'torcc," right and rcason arc wcakcncd bccausc wc no Íongcr un-
dcrstand thcir wcakncsscs, and wc stcaÍ thc onÍy way ot bccoming
¡ustand rcasonabÍc thatis avaiÍabÍcto thoscwho arcscorncd. Jhcsc
two Íosscs Ícavc thc hcÍd trcc tor thc wickcd. ! caÍÍ this a crimc, thc
onÍy oncthatwc wiÍÍ nccd in this cssay.
• Jhcmanwho yicÍds to thcsoÍidityotatinyargumcnt onÍy attcr
hundrcds ot triaÍs andtcsts, crrors andtinkcring, inhis Íaboratory
spccch, thc momcnt hc stcps outothis Íaboratory doorhc is out-
ragcdto discovcr 'thatsuch a simpÍc argumcnt isnotundcrstood
by cvcryonc." Îis outragc nourishcs his scorn. 5incchc dcspiscs
thc tooÍs bcncath him, hc torgcts about thc onÍythingthat Ícads
himtoyicÍdto thctorccotthis argumcnt. hisÍaboratory,thcpÍacc
whcrc hc has bccn sub¡cctcdto triaÍshimscÍt. !tis avicious circÍc.
Jhc morc tooÍish thc othcrs arc, thc morc hc bcÍicvcsthathc can
'think" andthc Ícss hc isabÍcto scchowhc hasÍcarncd. Andthc
morc hc cxtcnds thc potcncy ot rcason bcyond torcc, thc morc
rcason is wcakcncd.
4.7.8 Jo opposc right and might is criminaÍ bccausc it Ícavcs thc
otwhat is right. ßut what is right is without torcc cxccpt 'in prin-
cipÍc." And so bcing unabÍc to cnsurc that what is right is strong,
in aÍÍ innoccncc.
• As arcsuÍt ota comprchcnsibÍcrcvcrsaÍ, NachiavcÍÍi and 5pinoza
havc bccn hcÍd to bc immoraÍ, cvcn though thcy wcrc right to
trom 5pinoza`s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Jimcs havc changcd.
ot 'scicntihc" inscriptions. Iorthis rcason ! think otthis cssay as
a Tractatus Scientifco-Politicus. Lvcn so, thc ob¡cct is thc samc.
Vc arc stiÍÍ right at thc bcginning ot thc cxcgcsis, and thc Íink
bctwccnscicncc and dcmocracyhas bccomctcnuousinthccoursc
otthc 'wars ot scicncc." Likc 5pinoza, wc Íook crucÍ in ordcrto
ot torcc to gcar down potcncy and makc thc wcak impotcnt. !tthc
wcakhadintront otthcm, onÍy thc array otwcakncsscs that! havc
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 235
• '^oÍi mctangcrc"-thcscarcthcwordsotamagicianwhowishcs
to bcboth dcad andaÍivc atthc samctimc, hcrc andthcrc, strong
and rationaÍ, strong and right, strong and good.
4.7. 10 5inccthcrcisonÍyoncwayotknowing,nottwo-thctcsting
ot rcÍations bctwccn torccs-thcrc is no way wc can avoid a singÍc
mistakc, absurdity, orcrimc.VccannotavoidasingÍccxpcrimcntor
with criminaÍ iÍÍusions.
• Îow many atomic wars wiÍÍ wc havc to hghtbctorc wcyicÍdto
Listcn, it is vcry simpÍc. VcwiÍÍncvcr do bcttcr than thosc who
havc simpÍy to convincc thcmscÍvcs about tri!Íing mattcrs, havc
cvcrything thcy nccd to hand, and arc propcrÍy tcd, wcÍÍ Iit, and
appropriatcÍy taught. Îow many mistakcs do thcy makc bctorc
thcy start to givc up thc tinicst prc¡udiccr Jcns, hundrcds, thou-
sandsr 5ohowmanywarswiÍÍ ittakcto convincc hvcbiÍÍionmcn
and womcnr Jcnr A hundrcdr UnÍcss, that is, thc muÍtitudcs can
think morc guickÍy and cÍcarÍy than thosc in thc Íaboratory.
4.7. 11 Jhosc who think that thcy can do bcttcr and work morc
guickÍy wiÍÍ aÍways do worsc bccausc thcy wiÍÍ torgctto sharc thcir
onÍy mcans otknowing and tcsting. JhcywiÍÍ bcÍicvcthatthcyhavc
donc cnough whcnthcy havc 'dittuscd" rcasons, codcs, and rcsuÍts.
!n tact, aÍÍ otthcsc withcr oncc thcy arc rcmovcd tromthc scorncd
nctworks thatkccp thcm strong.
and morc than thc worst. Joday wc hnd ourscÍvcs in thc samc
otmarvcÍs, cnthusiasm, andwarmth, ancpiphanytomatchwhat
wcvuÍgarÍycaÍÍ 'thc scicnccs."AndyctuntiÍthcmiÍÍcnniumcnds,
wc must sign our Ícttcrs with thc samc word, 'ócrcÍint." Jo havc
knowÍcdgc in thc ncxt miÍÍcnnium, to bc abÍc to taÍk otcxactncss
without bcing abuscd bythc irradiatcd, wc must savc thc knowÍ-
cdgc trom 'thc scicnccs" ¡ust as thc divinc has bccn savcd trom
to cxtirpatc cvcrything thatwas rcÍigiouswithin us.JhroughÍovc
otknowÍcdgc wc must discntangÍc ourscÍvcs trom 'thc scicnccs."
Vc cannot baÍancc GaÍiÍco against cruisc missiÍcs in thc way in
which thc 5crmon on thc Nount was tor so Íong contrastcd with
thc !nguisition. ApoÍogctics do notintcrcst mc. !n 'scicncc," asin
'rcÍigion," thcrc arc morc than cnough protcstants, mystics, in-
tcgrists,anabaptists,tundamcntaÍists, andwoHdy|csuits. ^oncot
thcm intcrcst mc bccausc thcy aÍÍ want to rctorm or rcgcncratc
thoscbadÍy conccivcd unitics, 'thcscicnccs."Jhcy aÍÍ scckto rcc-
! want to undcrstand incomprchcnsibÍc to mc. !t cruisc missiÍcs
gathcr mc in thc vincyard, ! do not wish to havc to bow down
bctorc'rcason," 'crringphysics," 'thctoÍÍyotmcn," 'thccrucÍty
ot God," or 'KcaÍpoÍitik." ! do not wish to invokc muddÍcd cx-
pÍanations which taÍk oI potcncy whcn thc rcason tor my dcath
tromirradiation! want to bcas agnosticasitispossibÍcto bctor
aman who isprcscnt at thc passing otthc hrstLnÍightcnmcnt, as
agnostic as it is possibÍc to bc tor onc who is suthcicntÍy surc ot
both thc divinc and ot knowÍcdgc that hc darcs to hopc torthc
birth ot a ncw LnÍightcnmcnt. ! wiÍÍ not yicÍd to thcm, ! wiÍÍ not
bcÍicvcin 'thc scicnccs" bctorchand, andncithcr, attcrwards,wiÍÍ
! dcspair ot knowÍcdgc whcn onc otthc rcÍationships ottorcc to
which thc Íaboratorics havc contributcd cxpÍodcs abovc Irancc.
^cithcr bcÍict, nor dcspair. !wiÍÍbcas agnosticand astair asitis
possibÍc to bc.
So you were wrong, Crusoe. There is no modern world to be set against
your primitive island.· There is no rational thought to be contrasted with that
of the primitive. There are no cultures to be kept apart from the untamed
species lurking in the jungle.
We know what happened to Friday and Crusoe when a sailing ship an
chored off their island. Tourier has told us ( 1967/1972). It was Crusoe who
remained behind, and Friday who departed. But the following morning Cru
soe realized that he was not alone: a ship's boy was there to keep him
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Introduction. NatcriaÍs and Ncthods
1. L. Tolstoy ( 186911986) . All references are to the one-volume 1986 Penguin
2. This book owes a great deal to Michel Serres' work, especially to his
geographical metaphor of the Northwest Passage (Serres: 1980). Instead of en
visaging the divide between human and natural sciences as something simple,
like a strait, Serres offers the image of a multiplicity of islands, channels, pen
insulas, dead ends, and narrow paths, as confusing and as beautiful as a map of
the Northwest Passage.
3. See M. Serres ( 1983) for the association of the military, scientists, and
businessmen in a thanatocracy more powerful than all the demo-, techno-, and
autocracies of the past.
4. Tolstoy himself proposes a global religious explanation for the vast move
ment that freed the Russians from Napoleon's army. This explanation revolves
around God's providential plan for Russia.
5. Spinoza's treatise (around 1 665) comprises a long scientifc analaysis of
the Old Testament, thus establishing the moder way of doing biblical exegesis.
This analysis helped redefne the relations between political power, freedom of
conscience, and religious revelation. At the center of the treatise is a super
impositon of might on right that Spinoza deemed necessary in order to put
democracy on frm ground. Without claiming to emulate Spinoza any more than
I tried to imitate Tolstoy, I used both as guides and protectors.
6. If relation of "forces" reminds readers too much of Nietzsche's will to
252 Notes to Pages 7-9
power, let them replace "forces" by "weaknesses." This replacement is a sure
remedy against misunderstanding the main point of this book.
7. According to most philosophies of science, empirical studies by historians,
economists, and sociologists are too feeble to make up the whole picture of what
science is about. Why? Because case studies, philosophers argue, do not concern
themselves with the "foundations" of science or with the "transcendental con
ditions" of any argumentation. There is thus a division of labor between phi
losophers of science, who think they have a perfect right to ignore (and even to
despise) empirical studies, and the social scientists, who think they should never
indulge in philosophical arguments. It is only reluctantly that an "epistemolog
ically relevant sociology of science" was invented, as if the honor of feeding a
few case studies to transcendental philosophy was fnally granted to scholars in
the social sciences. This division of labor is a catastrophe; philosophy and feld
studies should be carried out under the same roof and, if possible, in the same
head. I use philosophy here in the same way that theories are used in the other
sciences, that is, to desigate, highlight, anticipate, underiine, dramatize, tie to
gether the empirical material. I use philosophy not because empirical material
lacks some "foundation" but because I want, on the contrary, more details, more
materials, more historical case studies. u another book (1987) I put forward
similar arguments, but at a third level which is intermediary between case studies
and philosophy. Science in Action is thus a companion book to the present one.
8. See e.g. F. Dagognet (1967, p.212) ; R. Valltry-Radot ( 1911) .
9. This freedom of choice of the metalinguistic level required for the expla
nation, taken from the methodological principle common to all the other social
sciences, forms the basis of much anthropology of science. See B. Latour and S.
Woolgar ( 1979/1986); B. Latour ( 1981) . But it raises many aporetic conse
quences, which are nowhere more ironically illustrated than in M. Ashmore
(1985). If the epistemological necessity of this freedom does not seem obvious
to the reader, it can be defended on stylistic grounds: it leads to a multiplication
of the languages available to talk about science.
10. According to several reviews of the French edition of this book, I failed
pitifully on three grounds. K. Knorr ( 1985), F.-A. Isambert ( 1985), M. de Mey
(1985), and Salomon-Bayet ( 1986) praise the work for its social and political
interpretation of Pasteur's "manipulation," "exploitation," and "clever oppor
tunism," and for the nice way in which I put aside technical contents and limit
myself to the application of science to society! Although no text can defend itself
against its readers' interpretations, I want to stress again that I am not interested
here in offering a social or a political explanation of Pasteur as an alternative to
other cognitive or technical interpretations. I am interested only in retracing our
steps back to the moment when the very distinction between content and context
had not yet been made. If I use the words "force," "power," "strategy," or
"interests," their use has to be equally distributed between Pasteur and those
human or nonhuman actors who give him his strength. See M. CalIon (1986).
11. I use "actor," "agent," or "actant" without making any assumptions
about who they may be and what properties they are endowed with. Much more
general than "character" or "dramatis persona," they have the key feature of
being autonomous fgures. Apart from this, they can be anything-individual
("Peter") or collective ("the crowd"), fgurative (anthropomorphic or zoom
orphic) or nonfgurative ("fate"). A. Greimas and J. Courtes ( 1979/1983). See
also Part Two.
Notes to Pages 1 0-14 253
12. When there is no journal title after a quotation, the Revue Scientifque is
13. For an introduction to semiotics as applied to scientifc texts, see F. Bastide
(1986) . I constantly use the notions of performance-what characters do-and
competence-what this action implies (see A. Greimas and J. Courtes: 1979)
to defne the actors (or actants or agents) that comprise the characters of this
14. On the Franco-Prussian War and its effect on French science, see M.
15. Historians share with sociologists a belief in the existence of a context in
which the events have to be carefully situated. For sociologists this context is
made up of the social forces that explain the events (the catch phrases including
"it is no coincidence that" or "it fts in well wit the interest of"); for historians
the context is a set of events frmly tied to the chronological framework. For
both trades there exists a context and it is retrievable, at least in principle. Despite
their feud, the two disciplines believe in the difference between context and
content. Once this belief is shared, people can disagree, some preferring to stick
to the content (they are called interalists), others to the context (they are called
externalists), and still others to a careful balance between the two. For the two
disciplines, additional sources will make the series converge into one overall more
or less coherent picture. This is the basic assumption that is not shared by
semioticians, or for that matter by ethnometodologists. More data, more sources .
will make the sources diverge more and more. To be sure, it might be possible
to obtain some effects of totality, but these are exceptions, local productions
inserted among the others and dependent upon a local panopticon. It is because
this book relies on semiotics that it is neither history nor sociology. It explores
different assumptions about what composes both content and context and dif
ferent ways of constituting this mixture.
16. This notion of translation has been developed by M. CalIon (1986). M.
CalIon, J. Law, and A. Rip, eds. (1986), and B. Latour (1987) and applied to
the study of science and technology in order to fuse the notions of interest and
research program in a more subtle way. First, translation means drift, betrayal,
ambiguity (1. 2. 1). It thus means that we are starting from inequivalence between
interests or language games and that the aim of the translation is to render two
propositions equivalent. Second, translation has a strategic meaning. It defnes a
stronghold established in such a way that, whatever people do and wherever they
go, they have to pass through the contender's position and to help him further
his own interests. Third, it has a linguistic sense, so that one version of .te
language game translates all the oters, replacing tem all wit "whatever you
wish, this is what you really mean."
17. See F. Bastide ( 1986); B. Latour and P. Fabbri (1977); B. Latour and F.
I. 5trong Nicrobcs and Vcak Îygicnists.
1. L. Tolstoy ( 1869/1986) in the epilogue to War and Peace, criticizes mys
tical as well as social explanations of strategy. His critique of the notion of power
is especially interesting for us (p.1409). There is no gain to be had going from
te "interalist" notion that ideas have an interal thrust of their own to the
"exteralist" notion that people have political power. The notion of power, as
254 Notes to Pages 14-1 9
well as of planned strategy, simply disguises our igorance. B. Latour (1986a).
On the difference between force and potency, see Part Two.
2. No distinction is made here between science and technology. The mec
anisms that transform what is transported are the same. On the distinction
between the diffusion model and the translation model, see B. Latour (1987,
ch. 3) .
3. The active society that makes up immense parts of bacteriology i s not the
same as the society used as a backdrop or a "social context" for the history of
science. Herein originates the misunderstanding between micro sociologies of sci
ence and philosophies of science. Society has to be redefned in order to become
usable in "social" studies of science.
4. Among many useful references, see L.Chevalier (1973) ; A. Corbin (1986);
L. Murard and P. Zyberman ( 1984, 1985) ; W. Coleman (1982) ; R. Nye (1984) .
5. The fght against degeneration (which is not at all a fght against microbes)
could have done everything that was accomplished with the hybrid Pasteurism
Hygiene. R. Nye (1984) makes the most thorough study of degeneration: "By
the turn of the century, a medical outlook of bio-pouvoir had thoroughly pen
etrated popular consciousness. A medical theory of regeneration was so successful
in integrating the palpable and familiar litany of social pathologies into a discourse
of national decline that it escaped the terminological prison of the clinic and
throve in the arena of public debate" (p. 170).
6. The "addresser" communicates to the "addressee" not only the compe
tence but also the values that are at stake in the narration. See A. Greimas and
F. Courtes (197911983). In this senseJhe "necessary movement of regeneration"
is never discussed because it is what gives everyone the "right" to discuss.
7. See W. F. Frazer (1950).
8. W. Coleman (1982) studies mostly Villerme and his school over the ffty
year period before Pasteur's takeover of French medicine. "Public health inves
tigation was a distinctive feature of 19th centur European society. Interest in,
broadly speaking, the sanitary conditions of discrete populations easily crossed
boundaries and created, within two generations, a recognizable medical speciality.
The hygienists were armed with novel conceptual and methodological tools, they
soon won academic and other employment, and they were backed by remarkable
public interest in their undertakings. Both British and French physicians had
given early stimulus to this movement. In the quarter century afer the Congress
of Vienna, however, leadership passed to France; and it was there, principally
in Paris, that hygiene publique, or public health, won formal constitution as a
9. This conflict is the drama of Villerie's life and is what renders Coleman
(1982) so beautiful. "The hygienists' position was marked by a continuing ten
sion. None knew better than they the nature and probable sources of human
suffering in a rapidly urbanizing and industrializing society. But their remedies
for these problems almost always stopped short of requiring major social change"
(p.22). This contradiction between political economy annd hygiene is what the
defnition of bacteriology will resolve in part by shifting the interest from "sick
paupers" to "dangerous microorganisms." The contradiction will be alleviated
because many precautions suggested by the health movement will no longer be
necessary within the bacteriological treattnent of the same problem.
10. The link between mortality and class created by Villerme is as interesting
as the link between atte
uated microbes and diseases later created by Pasteur.
Notes to Pages 1 9-26 255
They are both defned by "laboratory" methods, except that in Villerme's case
the1aboratory is Paris checkered with statistical institutions. See Coleman (1982) :
"Paris was vast, it was diverse, its toll of mankind seemed beyond necessity and
justice. The city, through its vital statistics and public practices, was to become
a laboratory, a centre for social discovery if not yet social amelioration. The city
thus gave the hygienists their great opportunity" (pA3) . Villerme's defnitions,
like Pasteur's, are at variance with interpretations of diseases as due to crowding
or to environmental factors alone.
11. The very defnition of a context, of economic trends, of an historical
"longue duree," are the outcome of a set of social sciences (sociology, economics,
history). A dedicated sociologist of science cannot criticize the natural sciences
while uncritically believing in the social ones. Consequently, a new principle of
symmetr has to be defned which requires Ü to maintain the same critical stand
with respect to society and na
ure. The "social context" can never be used to
"explain" a science. See B. Latour (1987. chs. 3, 6).
12. Statistics is the prior science, the one that created epidemics and epizootics
as recognizable entities. See E. Ackerknecht (1945) ; B.-P. Lecuyer (1977) ; W.
Coleman ( 1982); T. Murphy ( 1981) . On the earlier period, see A. La Berge (1974).
13. In saying this, I am not committing a sin against M. Rudwick's rule that
a narrative should never be retrospective (1985). I am, on the contrary, recon
structing the movement of hygiene left to itself, before the advent of Pasteurism.
Pasteurian victory has been so complete that it is diffcult to recapture the re
quirements that Pasteurians had to meet in order to be believed at all. This does
not mean that Pasteur's interests "ftted" those of the hygienist, but that there
was room for a negotiation about the meaning of contagion if, and only if, the
Pasteurians were able to take into account the variability of the contagion.
14. We should never sever a social movement from the army of journalists,
thinkers, social scientists, and politicians that "socially constructs" it. Thus,
"social movement" is used here as an abbreviation to designate the work of
composition, defnition, aggregation, and statistics already done by·the hygienists
and their troops. I am not using it as a social "cause" that explains the science,
but as the reifed result of an earlier politicoscientifc imbroglio.
15. See W. Coleman (1982): "As noted, hygienists were not uninformed re
garding disease theory; their concern simply was directed to other matters, matters
that were "biological" in a different and, if the expression be permitted, more
expansive sense. The hygienist attended to the essential conditions of existence
food; supply and purity of water; presence and absence of human, animal, and
other wastes; the conditions of bodily and mental activity, including above all
work, shelter, or protection from the elements-and realized that all of those
possessed an underlying economic character; the environment was thereby ren
dered social in nature. The hygienist also realized that this socioeconomic di
mension touched directly upon disease sensu strictu" (p.202). Even the link
between contagion, social theory, and medical power could have been made
without the remotest tie with bacteriology. See J. Goldstein (1982).
16. On the dispute about the general factors that caused the long-term decline
in infectious diseases, see R. Dubos ( 1961) ; ¡. Ilich (198 1).
17. See e.g. R. H. Shyrock (193611979): "The result was that the health
program entered a new phase after 1870; so impressive a phase that it was soon
viewed as the very beginning of things in public hygiene. There ensued a tendency
to give too much credit to leaders in medical research; whereas up to 1870 they
256 Notes to Pages 26-37
received too little" (p.247) . See also W. Bullock (193811977) ; W. Frazer ( 1950).
18. The ability of a scientifc proof to convince has a multiplicity of causes,
not any single one. This has been "proven" in several case studies which constitute
most of the social studies of science paradigm. See esp. K. Knorr (1981) ; H.
Collins (1985); T. Pinch (1986). To be more reflexive, I should say: believing
that evidence of the underdetermination of scientifc proofs has been offered by
these case studies is a sure sig that we share the same professional commitment.
19. Historians of Pasteurism naturally describe more opponents, many of whom
were actually provoked by Pasteur's sometimes abrupt remarks. See e.g. J. Farley
and ]. Geison (1974) on Pouchet; L. Nicol (1974) and D. Weiner (1968) on
Raspail. I should remind the reader again at this point that I am limiting my
sources to what an "ideal" reader would know of Pasteur and his alliances, were
he or she to read only the Revue Scientifque. A little more information on conflicts
can be gathered from Salomon-Bayet, ed. (1986).
20. G. Canguilhem ( 1977). This germ theory of the germ theory was very
frequent in Pasteur's time. It has continued to the present as one of the many
agricultural metaphors used by historians of science and technology in replacing
the composition of science by its unfolding. It is an avatar of the notion of
"potency" studied in Part Two (2. 1. 3) .
21. On Koch's aborted attempt, see R. Dubos (1950). The two words "cre
dulity" and "credibility" share the same beginning and indeed the same root; all
that distinguishes them is the outcome of a struggle: the losers were credulous
and the winners credible. David Bloor (1976) has most clearly defned the task
of any sociology of science by introducing the notion of symmetry. The losers
and the winners must be studied in the same way and explained with the same
set of notions. If the evolution of our feld has made the notion of a "social"
explanation obsolete, the principle of symmetry remains the basis of most work
in the area.
22. This addition never appears enough to those who wish to provide a de
miurgic interpretation of science; they want science to generate all its content
from within itself, and they regard as dangerous reductionists those who produce
it from its context. Yet this same addition appears too much to those who wish
to offer a social rendering of science; they would like to explain a science because
it fts well with other interests, and they consider as intemalists those who deny
the notion of a ft. I am weaving my way between these two reductionisms. There
is nothing to be gained in limiting the cause of the spread of a innovation to any
one member of the chain: everyone is defning what society is about, including
of course the scientists themselves. '
23. The consideration of hygiene as a means of social control is a common
thread to much nineteenth-century history. For the development of ideas in France
close to those of Foucault around the concept of "biopower," see L. Murard and
P. Zylberman ( 1984, 1985) ; A Corbin (1982); B.-P Lecuyer (1986). However, I
am interested here not in the predictable application of a given power on the
bodies of the wretched and the poor but in the earlier composition of an unpre
dictable source of power. It is precisely at the time when no one can tell whether
he is dealing with a new source of power that the link between science and so
ciety is most important. When almost everyone is convinced, then, but only
then and afterward, will hygiene be a "power" to discipline and to coerce (see
ch. 3) .
24. B. Rozenkranz ( 1972) reconstitutes the accusation process and its varia-
Notes to Pages 37-38 257
tions: who should be blamed for what sort of evil? In tis sense her work is very
close to that of many anthropologists. Bacteriology reshuffes those who are
responsible for the spread of diseases, who are poor and dirty, who are contagious
and rich. Speaking of the arrival of scientists on the Board of Health in Boston,
she writes: "Their focus on the bacteriological etiology of preventable diseases
placed responsibility for negligence frmly in the hands of the powerful rather than
the weak. In the process of establishing the vigor and competence of the biological
sciences in preventive hygiene, they challenged the identity of flth and disease
and refned both the ideology and program of public health" (p.98) . Others fght
this new defnition of the social link: "Reliance on pasteurization would, in
Walcott's view, terminate the ultimate responsiblity of the individual to preserve
conscientious cleanliness . . . For Walcott, whose concept of prevention rested on
enlightened restraint of the individual rather than the bacteriological organism,
the price [of pasteurization] was too high to pay" (p. 1 10).
25. A.-L Shapiro ( 1980) makes a similar argument at the level of political
philosophy during the same period: "More and more the concept of 'solidarism'
crept into offcial pronouncements and became the characteristic social philos
ophy of the Third Republic. It provided the means to steal the thunder from the
socialists while justifying a limited, but legitimate, extension of the powers of the
State. Solidarism emphasized the inter-dependence of all members of society and
used the vocabulary of contractual obligation to demonstrate that each individual
was responsible for the well-being of all and must, therefore, be willing to sacrifce
some elements of personal liberty in the interest of the community. Public health
became a quintessential example of the practical application of solidarism" (p. 15).
26. I am fusing here the method of semiotics with an argument from sociology.
My claim is simply that the lists of actors and associations obtained by a semiotic
study of the articles of the period are longer and more heterogeneous than the
lists offered by the sociologists or social historians of the period. To grasp the
argument of the next section, we must accept a certain degree of ignorance as
to what is the real list of actors making up a society, and a certain degree of
agnosticism about which are human and which are nonhuman, which are en
dowed with strategy and which are unconscious. Because of this fusion, this
ignorance, and this agnosticism I prefer to call the discipline I work in "anthro
pology of science and technology." When ethnographers work in exotic realms,
they often gain, without too much ado, this state of uncertainty-or of grace
that is so hard to get when treating our societies. See 3.5.2; B. Latour (1983a).
27. Viewed in this way, the research program of T. Merton (1973) and of
most American sociology of scientists seems more reasonable. American soci
ologists, knowing that they did not have a sociology capable of studying the
contents of science, limited themselves to its context, to rewards, citaticfls, and
careers-that is, to what sociologists knew best how to do. By contrast, the
British school courageously entered into the content, despising this American
sociology of scientists that was doing only half the job. See D. Bloor (1976) ; H.
Collins (1985); S. Shapin ( 1982). In spite of its great achievements, this enterprise
appears disappointing because the contents and the contexts remain very far
apart. Most of the sociology of science is internalist epistemology sandwiched
between two slices of externalist sociology. We are now at a new crossroads: we
must either give up studying the contents of science or change the sociology we
28. Conservatism, Catholicism, love of law and order, fdelity to the Empress,
258 Notes to Pages 38-51
brashness, passion-those are approximately all we get of the "social factors"
acting on Pasteur. R. Dubos ( 1951) ; J. Farley and G. Geison (1974) ; J. Farley
(1978) . They are enough to provoke the rationalist, who is shocked by such an
intrusion of social elements into the pure realm of autonomous science. N. Roll
Hansen ( 1979). But they are not much if we put on the other side all the scientfc
work to be explained. This imbalance does not disturb the sociologist, who
explains many different things with the same word, believing that these words
have some causal potency that enable them to generate many different effects.
Nor does the imbalance disturb the social historian, who needs social explanation
simply to sketch the background of Pasteur's work and then quickly to return
to classic interalist studies. But it does disturb me if I wish to give an irreduc
tionist explanation of the content itself: the explanation has to be at least as rich
as the content, not poorer.
29. See M. Serres ( 198011982, 1983). The main importance of his philosophy
for the study of science is that he is one of the few philosophers to be utterly
uninterested in the notion of a critique, be it transcendental or social. As a
consequence, he makes no distinction between language and metalanguage, using
a poem, a myth, a theorem, or a machine as something that explains as well as
something to be explained . .
30. See M. Callon and B. Latour ( 1981) . If we trace inthe dictionary the slow
drift of socius with its associated or successive meanings, we will be struck by
how the meaning of "social" has continued to shrink (3.4.7.). It begins as "as
sociation" and ends up with "social workers" by way of the "social contract"
and the "social question." My redefnition aims simply to resurrect its original
richness of meaning.
31. W. McNeill ( 1976) is the inspiration of these pages. W. McNeill ( 1982)
is most relevant for analysis of the politicoscientifc imbroglio.
32. The very distinction between science and society is thus an artifact of the
attribution process, exactly as the notion of a man's power is, for Tolstoy, an
artifact of the historian's description ( 1869/1986, pp. 1409). On this critique of
power, see J. Law, (1986).
33. Is this enough to convince the reader that I am not using an argument in
terms of a science "ftting in well with" its context? The whole of hygiene (as
well as the whole of bacteriology) is displaced and translated. What makes the
reader immediately translate this argument into a reductionist social explanation
is the remaining notion of a ca�se. Hygiene does not cause bacteriology any more
than it fts in well with bacteriology. The two associate their common weaknesses
and renegotiate the meaning of their alliance. Anyway the notion of a "cause"
is one of many avatars of "potency" (2. 1.6). A cause is always the consequence
of a long work of composition and a long struggle to attribute responsibility to
34. C. Peguy (1914) is probably the most profound study on the articulations
of the various historical and religious times. See also G. Deleuze ( 1968).
35. Apart from their respective know-how and professional loyalty, this is,
the only distinction remaining between historians and sociologists of science: the
former prefer starting from the temporal framework inside which the actors are
situated, whereas the latter like to obtain the temporal framework as a conse
quence of the actor's movements. For the rest, both groups are doing the same
job and are no longer separated by the absurd divide between empiricists, inter-
Notes to Pages 51 -61 259
ested in details and narratives, and theorists, interested in structures and atem
36. See esp. M. Auge ( 1975), J. Favret-Saada ( 1977/1980). The process of
accusation is an excellent model for the study of sciences as well as parasciences
or witchcraft. By following who is preferably accused and what is preferably
considered to be the cause of a misfortune, the ethnographer can easily reconstruct
society's network of associations. Trailing the processes of accusation allows a
direct entry into "sociologics." See B. Latour ( 1987, ch. 5) .
37. This is why explaining Pasteur's success in terms of his ability to manip
ulate others, or in terms of his power over the hygienists, is so meaningless. If
anything, Pasteur is the one who is manipulated from the start by hygienists in
search of a solution to the confict between health and wealth. But "manipulation"
is a term like "power" or "strategy." All imply some degree of potency and are
thus reductionist in essence ( 1.5.4.).
2. You ViÍÍ ßcPasteurs oIMicrobcs
1. Only if we distinguish between context and content does it appear con
tradictory to reduce the power attributed to a few great men and at the same
time to highlight their personal contribution. The renewal by Tolstoy of the
historical novel genre is a beautiful escape from this apparent contradiction: only
after the crowds are put back into the picture can the novelist afford each in
dividual his or her own flesh and color. Only when sociology has caught up with
Tolstoy can we again be proud of our craft.
2. The word "strategy" is always used here in its War and Peace sense. That
is, the strategist make plans that are constantly drifting away; he seizes upon
opportunities in the midst of confusing circumstances; he fghts hard to make
others attribute responsibility for the whole movement to him in case of victory,
while leaving it to someone else in case of defeat. This is no reason, however,
for reducing action to microcontingencies and for appealing constantly to dis
order, uncertainties, and idiosyncrasies. (K Knorr 1981, 1985). Each actor de
scribed by Tolstoy is summing up what the others do and is trying to make sense
of chaos. Sometimes his interpretation is shared by others acting performatively
on the setting, thus adding to the overall chaos. I call this performative summing
up and negotiation of a global direction "strategy."
3. For Claude Bernard, see W. Coleman (1985). In spite of Coleman's re
newed profession of faith in a bizarre dichotomy between "cognitive" factors
and "social" ones, his article is, as usual, remarkable. Bernard makes a perfect
contrast with Pasteur as far as the positioning of the laboratory is concerned.
"Bernard's unswerving dedication to disciplinary limitation" (p.55) is precisely
opposite to Pasteur's tactics of never discussing discipline boundaries and always
crossing them. Moreover, Bernard places the laboratory in juxtaposition with
hospital wards and physician's cabinets, expecting physiology, through a slow
trickle-down effect, to infuence practical medicine. For Berard a laboratory is
the "sanctuary of science"; for Pasteur it is a fulcrum and an obligatory passage
point. Of course, they both consider an autonomous and well-funded science the
fountainhead of everything else, but in my terms Bernard puts this autonomy at
the level of the primary mechanism, whereas Pasteur puts it only at the level of
the secondary mechanism. Coleman takes as real the distinction between cognitive
260 Notes to Pages 61-68
factors and social factors, which Bernard regards as one possible tactic for achiev
ing autonomy. Had Coleman studied Pasteur, this clean distinction would have
been developed in an entirely different way.
4. On the absurdity of such a link in the eyes of a late nineteenth-century
physician, see J. Leonard (1977, 1981, 1986).
5. Once again, whenever I use the words "interest" and "interested," I am
not referring to the "interest theory" expounded by what is now called the
Edinburgh School. B. Barnes (1974); D. Bloor (1976). I am rather referring to
the notion of translation. M. Callon, (1980). "Interest" means simply what is
placed "in between" some actor and its achievements. I do not suppose that
interests are stable or that groups can be endowed with explicit goals. On the
contrary, I started from the notion that we do not know what social groups exist
and that these groups do not know what they want. However, this ignorance
does not mean that actors are not constantly defning boundaries, attributing
interests, endowing others with goals, and defning what everyone should want.
Any historical case study is thus an in vivo experiment in defning what the
groups are, what they want, and how far we can negotiate with them. Interests
cannot explain science and society; they are what will be explained once the
experiment is over.
6. At this point it is crucial to treat nature and society symmetrically and to
suspend our belief in a distinction between natural and social actors. Without
this symmetry it is impossible to grasp that there is a history of nonhuman as
well as human actors (see Part Two, sec. 3.0.0). The only way to understand
this central part of the argument is to stick frmly to the semiotic defnition of
all actors, including the nonhuman ones. What is a microbe? An actor, that does
this and that, in the narrative. Every time we modify one of the actions, we
redefne the competence and the performance of the actor. This is how the story
can show the history of the actors.
7. This reorganization of hygiene is misinterpreted even by an observer as
meticulous as E. Ackerknecht (1967). Citing the same Bouchardat, he writes
"The anticontagionism of our hygiene movement is probably one of the reasons
why it has been so completely forgotten. After the sun of bacteriology had risen
so high, the hygienists' anticontagionism looked a little embarrassing, and the
whole movement receded into the shadows of insigifcance . . . Belonging, like
its clinical counterpart, to the prelaboratory era, the Paris hygiene movement of
our period looked rather clumsy and stupid to the young enthusiast of the bac
teriologist era" (p. 160). The "rising sun" is one of those many metaphors his
torians like to use as a stopgap wherever the crucial question of the composition
of time is at stake. Ackerknecht's interpretation is inaccurate. On the contrary,
the notion of a "variation of virulence" allows hygienists to force enthusiastic
bacteriologists to do their work ("their" being deliberately ambiguous). The fact
that hygienists are ignored has nothing to do with success; it is a consequence
of the secondary mechanism that the hygienists needed to employ in order to
achieve their results faster.
8. In spite of Pasteur's importance, there are surprisingly few books on him.
Apart from the hagiographic piece by R. Vallery-Radot ( 1911) and the moving
book by Duclaux (1896/1920), there are only R. Dubos (1950) and an episte
mological rendering by F.Dagognet (1967). For the Pasteurians, see Salomon
Bayet, ed. (1986). The only biography done by a professional historian is G.
Notes to Pages 68-78 261
9. Here again the contrast with Claude Bernard's movement is striking.
Pasteur is completely indifferent to disciplinary boundaries and to professional
autonomy. See also F. Holmes ( 1974).
10. On Pasteur's passage from studies on molecular dissymmetry to "life
sciences," see D. Kottler (1978) .
11. This i s the only instance in which the Tolstoyan meaning of strategy is
replaced by the word's classic sense of an action successfully planned. The con
sequent steps that Pasteur is going to take are explicit in his correspondence and
articles. There is no reason to abstain from recognizing that sometimes for a few
moments there are indeed strategies. After all, even during the battle of Tarutino
one or two columns arrived at the prescribed time and place (although not for
the expected reasons) .
12. Claude Bernard also recruits allies but in the opposite way. He insists on
a precise order of command from science to practical applications before comm
encing the negotiation. See W. Coleman (1985).
13. As is well known, the French love revolutions. Time being seen as having
no progressive and formative value, the only way to understand change is to
imagine sudden breaks that transform one old regime into a new one. F. Furet
(197811981) has shown the pregnancy of this myth for political revolutions. But
it is much more powerful in the French history of science, which resounds with
"epistemological ruptures" in Bachelard's, Althusser's, and Foucault's writings.
A revolution, however is always the belated outcome of an attribution process
and takes place only at the level of the secondary mechanism.
14. See R. Dubos ( 1950) and, for the French case, I . Grellet et C. Kruse
15. This is the main limitation of laboratory studies, including my own. K.
Knorr (1981) ; B. Latour and S. Woolgar ( 1979/1986). They start out from a
place without asking if this place has any relevance at all and without describing
how it becomes relevant. In only a very few cases are laboratories the place to
start with if we wish to see science in the making. Most of the tme labs are dead
ends, with everything interesting happening outside. For the dislocation of a
laboratory, see M. Calion ( 1980). For the prehistory of another laboratory, see
C. Salomon-Bayet ( 1978).
16. On this essential point a substantive body of literature has emerged since
B. Latour and S. Woolgar ( 197911986). More and more scholars are becoming
interested in inscription devices, instruments, visualization procedures, and other
re-representation processes. See B. Latour and ]. de Noblet, eds. (1985). On the
medical aspect, see e.g. S. ]. Reiser ( 1978).
17. G. Canguilhem ( 1977). If "the science of the laboratory was of itself
directly at grips with the technical activity," the work of planning research and
development would be an easy one (p.73) . Epistemological defnitions of the
laboratory are no more relevant than sociological ones. It all depends on the
earlier translations that render the "science" relevant to be the "technical ac
18. This is why we do not have to choose between the two questions. "Has
Pasteur discovered the microbes which were out there?" or "Has Pasteur socially
constructed them?" The activity of discovering something is the same as that of
commanding a network of equivalences. In this sense Pasteur has discovered his
microbes j ust as Edison did his electricity. See Hughes (1979). That is, microbes
and electricity were not much at frst. It is only when tey added as many attributes
262 Notes to Pages 78-87
as were necessary to interest everyone and to render their laboratories indispen
sable to the microbes and electricity, and only when they fought like devils to
win attribution trials, that Pasteur and Edison ended up having discovered some
19. Here again the defnition of a new object is provided by semiotics. If we
change. the performances of any actor in the narrative, we modify its competence.
In more ontological terms, since a shape is the front line of a trial of strength
( 1. 1.6), if we modify one of these trials, we modify the shape. The name ("mi
crobe," "bacillus") will correspond to a thing only when the front line has been
stabilized. On this principle, see B. Latour (1987, ch. 2.)
20. A discovery is always retrospective and depends on the control of a trans
lation network. Only if we pay this price do sentences like "what we thought
until now to be anthrax is really caused by a bacillus" acquire some credence.
If there were the smallest gap in the control of the translation, then Pasteur's
"discovery" would simply be added to the complicated anthrax affair instead of
replacing the old knowledge.
21. That there is a history of the "things in themselves" seems absurd only
to those who want to fx us forever into the boring confrontation between a
subject (or a society) and an object (or a nature). Meanwhile, innovators are
constantly crossing the boundaries between nature and society and turning our
careful distinction between what has been revealed, what has been discovered,
what has been invented, what has been constructed, what has been made up,
and what has been fabricated into a shambles.
22. As noted by M. CalIon (1986), there should be a complete symmetry
between the terms used to describe human and nonhuman actors. The frst choice
of term does not matter, but once we have chosen one for human actors, we
shall stick to it when we address the nonhuman actors. If we "negotiate" with
the microbes, then use the word for the hygienists or the ministry. If we "discover"
bacilli, then "discover" the physicians or their colleagues. When this rule of
method is applied, we soon realize that the distinction between science and society
is an artifact caused by an assymmetrical treatment of human and nonhuman
actors. The marvelous study of S. Shapin and S. Schaffer (1985) provides the
genealogy of this distinction.
23. See B. Latour and J. de Noblet. (1985) . See also F. Dagognet (1969, 1973,
24. For a "so
al construction" analysis of discovery, see A. Brannigan (1981) .
I am following here an "associological" analysis that relates the degree of "dis
covery" to the extension of a network. In this view Pasteur "discovers" mi
crobes in the same way that electricity replaced gaslight. See T. Hughes
25. I see no reason to shun the term "genius. " Only those who want to reduce
the individual to the mass may object to this word. Such a reduction, however,
would be unfaithful to Tolstoy'S model. In his model no one is reduced to anyone
else. Those able to sum up, locally and for a time, what the others do should be
admired without reservation. This is what Tolstoy does with Kutuzov and what
I do here with Pasteur's primary mechanism.
26. According to D. Watkins (1984), there is a difference between French and
English professionalization strategy in this respect. The possible short cut between
basic science and medical practice is much more pronounced in France than in
Notes to Pages 87-1 08 263
England, where a new profession arises, preventive medicine. See also W. Frazer
27. According to Nicol ( 1974), among the precautions to be taken were the
shaking of the flasks of vaccine and the injection of one control and one vaccinated
sheep from the same syringe so that Pasteur could not be accused of cheating by
injecting virulent forms to the "nonvaccinated" and attenuated forms to the
"vaccinated" (p.377). The negotiation was serious because Hippolyte Rossignol,
who organized the challenge, explicitly set it up to disprove Pasteur's claims and
to show him "that the Tarpeian rock is close to the Capitol" (p.368). Founder
of the Societe de Medecine Veterinaire Pratique, Rossignol organized the public
experiment in part as a publicity stunt for his joural, La Presse Veterinaire.
· 28. But the anthrax vaccine crosses the Hungarian border like a bullet. "The
Hungarians," writes Thuilier to Pasteur on October 1, 1881, "are even greater
admirers of your discovery than I had thought at frst. They are frmly convinced
of its truth. The demonstration experiments that I am performing are actually
of only moderate interest to them-they are so convinced in advance of success.
What interests them more is to know ( 1) how to prepare pure cultures, (2) how
to make the vaccine." Pasteur and Thuilier (1980), p.91. Good network builders,
these Hungarians. They even try to corrupt the young Thuilier so that he repro
duces in front of them all the gestures necessary to turn the vaccine into a
29. Like the notion of discovery, that of an application of science "outside"
is an artifact o�tained once the activity of network building is over. Instead of
limiting ourselves to social construction and denying that microbes are out there
and have been discovered, we simply have to give qualifed answers to these
questions; the qualifcation consists merely of adding the activity of network
building. The distribution of the microbes "throughout the world" is exactly
similar to that of gas and electricity.
30. I am limiting myself to the article, but a full account of the episode is
found in H. Mollaret and J.Brossolet ( 1984). They make much of the priority
dispute with Kitasato but also show clearly the contrast between the Pasteurian
strategy and that of the English, the Chinese, or the Japanese physicians and
31. On the French debates around water and sewages, see Goubert J.-P. (1985),
G. Dupuy and G. Knaebel (1979) ; A. Guillerme (1982).
32. H. Mollaret and J. Brossolet ( 1984): "Whereas, schematically speaking,
Koch and his school tried to identify the agents responsible for human and animal
infections, Pasteur and his disciples tried to attenuate the pathogenic power of
these same agents to turn them into vaccines." (p.150).
33. As shown by N. Jewson ( 1976), this renewal had been taking place for
more than a century. Before the advent of hospital and laboratory medicine,
Jewson argues, "It was the sick person who decided upon the effcacy of his cure
and the suitability of the practitioner. Hence practitioners, and thus medical
investigators, formulated their defnition of illness so as to accord with the ex
pectations of their clients" (p.232). The history of medicine, then, is the history
of the reversal of this dependence upon the client and the sick person. In this
sense Pasteurian defnition adds still more distance to the estrangement from the
34. Pasteur during this period has discovered not "the microbe" but the mi-
264 Notes to Pages 1 08-124
crobe-that-can-be-attenuated, and this actor existed from the early 1880s to the
end of the century. That is why the notion of discovery is so useless. It can work
only in the temporary period of calm on the front line. As soon as the struggle
starts up again, the objects have new properties. See L. Fleck (1935/1979),
35. For the United States, see R. Kohler (1982).
3. Medicine at Last
1. See J.-F de Raymond (1982) on the frst vaccination. The story has many
aspects similar to Pasteur's. It is tied to state intervention and statistics. Jenner
slighdy transforms an earlier practice (innoculation). Even the "associology"
works along similar lines. "Immunology allows one to dispense with an ethnic
or a social segregation" (p. ll 1). On French frst vaccinations, see P. Darmon
2. For this sort of reason we cannot even assume that 1892 is before 1893.
it could as well be "after," or "at the same time." It all depends on what actors
do to place these years in relation to one another (1.2.5)
3. See A.-L. Shapiro (1980). The more the law was discussed, the more it
was "emasculated" from the hygienists' point of view and the more it maintained
the traditional position of physicians. On the medicolegal history of this period,
see R. Carvais (1986).
4. This situation is not limited to France. For the United States, J. Duffy
(1979) writes about the declaration of tuberculosis: "The intimate relationship
between the physicians and the patient'S family in the upper class and the danger
of losing his fee among the lower economic groups tended to discourage reporting
disease which might have serious economic consequences to the family" (p. 10).
5. This specifc kind of health offcials, called "offciers de sante," were
doctors without the national academic diplomas but with some kind of legal
protection as a consequence of the French Revolution's movement to dissolve
entirely the "privileges" of the medical profession. For a century each issue of
each medical journal attacked the existence of these inferior "offciers de sante"
who took the bread out of the real doctors' mouths. On the complicated French
legal scene, see M. Ramsey (1984) ; R. Carvais (1986) . · On the problem of pro
fessionalization in the medical profession, see E. Freidson (1970).
6. "With cries of approval from the right, M. Volland prophesied in the
Senate that: 'By the law of hygiene that you consider today, you will have armed
the representatives of the central power with the right to penetrate when they
wish, on an order from Paris, day or night, inside our homes; to bring, in defance
of all the guarantees laid down by the criminal code, into our homes their war
on microbes, and under the pretext of the search for a germ or the execution of
a disinfecton, to open our most intimate possessions and our most secret drawers.' "
Cited in A.-L. Shapiro (1980), p. 17.
7. D. Watkins (1984) reports of the professionalization in London, which,
if it can be extended to all of England, makes a striking contrast with the French
case. "Poor law medical offcers, though employed in public service, continued
to practice curative, clinical medicine, in the same way as their private practitioner
colleagues. Medical offcers of health however were practicing a different type
of medicine altogether. The function of their offce required specifc training in
a specialized area of knowledge. This specialized practice begat its own aims,
goals, and objectives. Consolidation of these through the professionalization of
Notes to Pages 124-143 265
preventive medicine resulted in a sub-division of this occupation from the medical
profession as a whole" (p. 16). See also W. Frazer ( 1950).
8. For this notion of a deal or a contract in the French medical profession,
see e.g. C. Herzlich ( 1982): "Simultaneously, in what can be called an 'exchange
process,' physicians let it be understood that they would co-operate with the
social laws and 'enter into the social game' of collective relations, but only under
certain conditions which they were able to impose in exchange for their co
operation, and which shaped medical practice" (p.245) .
9. The situation i s the same-for doctors as for the hygienists a generation
earlier. We need a "translation platform," so to speak, that is ambiguous enough
to aggregate interests. Contagion does not interest hygienists; variation of vir
ulence does interest them, because it resembles what they were already doing and
allows them to fuse the macrocosm-the city-and the microcosm-the bacilli
cultures. Vaccines do not interest physicians very much; sera interest them a lot,
because they can go on doing their usual work. In both cases the price to pay is
the same: laboratory equipment. In both cases the Pasteurians are the ones who
modify their angle of attack and their research program. The variation of virulence
was not comprised at frst in the earlier defnition of the microbe. As for the
serum, it was not part of the research program before the constitution of im
munology. Vaccines and sera are thus a coproduction of the Pasteurians, their
human allies, and their nonhuman captive allies
10. On this point, G. Weisz ( 1980) shows that Pasteurism does not play a
very important role in the transformation of French medical education. More
important is the contract made between physicians and the state: "eliminate our
competitors and we will become more knowledgeable." The influence of Germany
and its creation of a full-time teacher-researcher also play an important part
(p.64). Among the chairs created between 1870 and 1919, very few are in the
"pasteurized" domains. In general, the whole linkage between science and med
icine is considered uncertain and often unnecessary by students and general
practitioners. See Salomon-Bayet (1986).
11. There are times when sociological notons, such as that of "prestige, " can
be used. Such is the case in this chapter on physicians, because we are now much
further from the technical content of bacteriology and are talking about a group
that has become the epitome of a profession. See Friedson (1970) ; Starr ( 1982) .
The further we are from content, the better traditional sociology is.
12. What happened to Villerme and the hygienists happens now to the pas
teurized public health. They both start as a new science in search of allies; they
both end as a reifed social movement that has aggregated so many people along
so many networks that notions of power appear applicable.
13. L. Murard and P. Zylberman (1984) criticize this point, rightly so from
their point of view. It is true that later in the century hygiene is metamorphosed
many more times, especially because in the long run the alliance between hy
gienists and politicians does not work very well. The notion of "sanitary police"
becomes embarrassing. Still, in contrast to their importance in the earlier period,
the themes of hygiene disappear and become routinized.
14. McNeill (1976); F. Cartwright (1972); M. Worboys (1976).
15. The extension of micro- and macro-parasites is especially striking because,
as J.-P. Dozon ( 1985) argues, many of the diseases were new ones imported by
the very columns in charge of eradicating disease.
16. 'In effect the Pasteurians resolved the confict between Manson's and Ross's
266 Notes to Pages 143-148
approaches that are illustrated by M. Worboys ( 1976): "The difference [between
the two scientists] came over whether it was to be 'scientifc research' for de
velopment, or 'public health' for development" (p.91) .
1. Those who accuse relativists of being self-contradictory (Isambert, 1985)
can save their breath for better oc
asions. I explicitly put my own account in the
same category as those accounts I have studied without asking for any privilege.
This approach seems self-defeating only to those who believe that the fate of an
intepretation is tied to the existence of a safe metalinguistic level. Since this belief
is precisely what I deny, the reception of my own argument exemplifes my point:
no metalinguistic level is required to analyze, argue, explain, decide, or tell stories.
Everything depends on what sort of actions I take to convince others. This
refexive position is the only one that is not self-contradictory (Latour: 1988).
discipline continued by others
Figure 1 . Pasteur's trajectory (see p. 69)
c 1 0
Figure 3. The variation of the three most important research programs in the
Annales de l'Institut Pasteur (by year and percentage), 1 887-1 919 (see p. 1 06)
Abstraction, 221, 222
Ackerknecht, E., 260n7
Actant, defnition of, 35, 159, 252n11
Annales de L'Institut Pasteur, 11, 100-
Anthropology of science, 149, 195, 206
Armaingaud, 138, 139
Association, 38-40, 168, 258n30; in force
or in potency, 213
Auge, M., 212
Bernard, L., 61, 259n3, 261nn9, 12
Bloor, D., 213
Bouchardat, A., 20, 22
Bouley, H., 5, 15, 33, 74, 86, 87, 88
Braude!, F., 173
Calion, M., 260n5, 262n22
Calmette, A., 141
Canguilhem, G., 31, 75, 261n17
Chamberland, 24, 57
Chauveau, A., 27
Coleman, W., 19, 254n8, 255n15, 259n3
Colin, L., 92
Concours Medical, 12, 117
Crusoe, Robinson, 154, 201, 236
Culture, 199, 209
Dagognet, F., 68, 69, 70
DeMey, M., 252nl0
Displacement, 56; of laboratory, 61-65;
of Pasteurian, 66; of Pasteur, 67-72; of
physicians, 125-132; of tropical mede
Dozon, ]. P., 265n15
Dubos, Í., 68, 255n16, 256n21
Duclaux, E., 33, 64, 68, 80, 82, 89; re-
search program, 107
Duffy, J., 264n4
Economics, 162, 168, 203
Epistemology, 215-216, 228
Equivalence, 170, 176. See also Transla-
Explanation of a science, 8-9, 39-40,
91-92, 252nn7,9,10, 253n15; critique
of an, 153, 256n22, 258n33,
Force: no a-priori ideas on what is, 154,
157, 159; line of, 171, 183, 251n6; dif
ferent from potency, 213
Friday, 154, 155
Hesse, M., 181
History of science, 51-52; and sociology,
Hobbes, T., 194
Hygiene: defnition, 19-22; before Pas
teur, 19-34; redefned, 49-58; gains
autority, 55-58; as coercion, 137-
Inscription, 83, 218
Irreduction principle, 158
Isambert, F. A., 252nl0, 266nl
Jeanne, Dr., 129-132
Jewson, N., 263n33
Kawabata, Y., 160
Kidder, T., 211
Knorr, K. , 252nl0, 259n2
Knowledge, 226, 228, 230; no levels of,
231-233. See also Trials of strength
Koch, R., 30-31, 256n21
Laboratory: as fulcrum, 72-75; making
history, 79-85; and macrocosm, 90-
Landouzy, L., 21-22, 27-28, 65-66
Language, 104; language game, 160, 204
Leibniz, G., 166, 201
Leonard, J., 113
Logic, 171, 179, 182, 183
London Exhibition on Hygiene, 24-26
Machiavelli, N., 200, 211, 234
Magic, 180, 186, 209, 212
McNeill, W., 41, 141, 258n31
Medical secret, 122-123
Merton, T., 257n27
Metchnikov, E., 107
Microbe: new social actor, 35-40; obliga
tory point of passage, 43-49; "discov-
ered," 75-82, 261n18, 262n20;
Military medicine, 114-116
Modern world, 201, 207, 209, 230, 236
Murard, L., 265n13
Musil, R., 177
Nature, 167, 199, 205, 229
Nietzsche, F., 154, 166, 167, 251n6
Negotiation, 163, 167
Network, 170, 171, 116, 220, 221, 226,
Nicol, L., 263n27
Obligatory points of passage, 43-49
Parasite, 57-58, 126, 141
Pasteur, L. : biography, 67-72; and the
"Pasteur": the myth, 4-6, 8, 28-29; dif
ferent from Pasteur, 15; and hygienists,
55; deconstruction, 59-62
Pastorians: research program, 75-90,
100-104; style of, 94-104
Peguy, L., 51, 165, 210, 258n34
Peter, L.¸ 29-30
Physicians: skepticism of, 116-121; de-
fned by others, 121-125; redefne
Politics, 144, 145, 210, 225, 228; by
other means, 56, 228
Potency, 174, 175, 189, 191, 197, 200,
212; different from force, 213
Pouilly-le-Fort, 5, 87-90
Power, 174-175, 186
Primary mechanism, 42, 71
Proof, 26, 128, 256n18; extension in a
network, 92-93, 219, 226, 263n29
Reality, 155, 158, 159, 166, 188, 227
Reason, 179, 186
Relativity, principle of, 162
Revolution in science, 129-137, 261n13
Revue Scientifque, 11
Richet, L., 27, 43, 55, 124, 125
Right and might, 183, 233, 235. See also
Trials of strength
Roux, E., 127, 128, 142
Rozenkranz, B., 256n24
Rudwick, M., 255n13
Salomon-Bayet, L., 252n10
Schaffer, S., 5, 229
Science, 213, 214, 216
Secondary mechanism, 42, 71, 72, 109,
Semiotic method, 9-11, 253n13, 257n26
Serotherapy of diphteria, 127
Serres, M., 5, 57, 126, 143, 251n2,
Shapin, S., 5, 229
Shapiro, A. Í., 257n25, 264nn3, 6
Shyrock, R. H., 255n17
Society, 38-40, 199, 205. See also Associ
Sociology, 253n15, 257n27; redefnition
Space, 220; construction of, 164
Spinoza, B., 7, 161, 177, 211, 234, 251n5
Spokesmen, 160, 194-197, 229
Statistics, 90-91, 255n12
Strategy: critique of, 60, 69, 252n10,
System, 198, 206
Theater of the proof, 85-87
Theory, 178, 220
Things-in-themselves, 193, 194
Thuilier, Í., 263n28
Time: construction of, 49-52, 111-113,
164, 165; change of chronology in,
Tolstoy, Í.,3-5, 13-14, 22, 42, 60, 71,
111, 147, 251n4, 253n1, 259n1
Tournier, M., 154, 236
Translation, 11, 65-67, 181, 253n16,
260n5; principle of, 162; platform,
Trelat, E., 15, 21
Trials of strength, 158, 183, 210, 214,
Tropical medicine, 140-145
Truth, 183, 226, 227
Tyndall, ]., 9, 10, 27
Universality, 220, 226
Variation of virulence, 62-65
Verne, J., 23
Villerme, . 19, 254nn8,9,10, 265n12
Watkins, D., 262n26, 264n7
Weakness. See Force
Weisz, G., 265nlO
Worboys, M., 266n16
Yersin, A., 94-100
Zyiberman, P., 265n13
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