Economy and Society Volume 31 Number 1 February 2002: 1–14

Inaugural lecture: Chair of Philosophy and History of Scienti c Concepts at the Collège de France, 16 January 2001
Ian Hacking

Abstract
In his inaugural lecture for the Chair of Philosophy and History of Scienti c Concepts at the Collège de France, given on 16 January 2001, Ian Hacking develops the idea of styles of reasoning (credited to Ludwik Fleck) and considers the ways in which a style of reasoning introduces new ways of nding out the truth and determines the truth conditions appropriate to the domains to which it applies. In this light he examines some aspects of the thought of Pierre Duhem and Friedrich Nietzsche. He discusses some fundamental distinctions between classi cations in the social and the natural sciences and argues that classi cations of people and their behaviour have ‘looping effects’: we need, he suggests, a new type of enquiry concerned with the dynamics of classifying people. Keywords: styles of reasoning; truth conditions; natural kinds; human kinds; classi cation.

In these times we are strangely unsure about how much in the world is the work of man, and how much is the work of God, or what we call ‘nature’. How much do we create, and how much is fully determined in ways that are totally independent of ourselves? In the past decade we have debated this using the slogan of ‘social construction’. I hope that we shall soon put the slogan, and even some of the debate, behind us. But I expect that we shall never erase something of this sort that troubles the human spirit. I am not one of those who speak of the end
Ian Hacking, Collège de France, 11 Place Marcelin Berthelot, 72513 Paris Cedex 05, France Copyright © 2002 Ian Hacking (English version), published by Taylor & Francis Ltd Copyright © Collège de France (French version) ISSN 0308-5147 print/1469-5766 online DOI: 10.1080/03085140120109222

or stupefaction. but their mystery de nes them: there can be no question of dispelling it by some “solution”. like Jules Veuillemin. that they are mysterious. when I shall. Kant began by asking. at the amazing character of the most ordinary things. we might better say. be it geometrical. A recent debate between our colleagues Alain Connes and Jean-Pierre Changeux reminds us – if there were any need – how live the issues are (Changeux and Connes 1989. We feel we have overcome our ancestors. It takes a philosophical mind – but not necessarily someone officially designated as a philosopher – to create a state of wonder. or the end of metaphysics. because. philosophers have so often begun their work with problems. between algorithmic and combinatorial styles of reasoning. I need only remind you of Plato. There will come a time. I count mathematics among the sciences – not empirical. Aristotle himself said that right method in philosophy began by noticing contradictions in popular belief. but at the very possibility of this endeavour. perplexities. Should we not say with Merleau-Ponty that ‘the world and reason are not problematical. topological or making heavy use of symmetries. leaving something essential about them intact. and on the other what we may loosely call the spatial style. In the sciences we may use many styles of reasoning. of course. of understanding the types of reasoning used in the sciences. if we wish. a certain sort of philosophy and a certain sort of history – including historical accounts – are so bound up in each other that they are hardly distinguishable. of Descartes. The best work of the philosophers who would solve problems is moved by a sort of awe. translation quoted from Merleau-Ponty 1962: 20). or. or con ict between general opinion and the beliefs of the wise. His image makes philosophy sound like the grumbling of querulous old men. in a few years. Even within mathematics there is still something powerfully right about the distinction between arithmetic and geometry. it is on the hither side of all solutions’? Merleau-Ponty continues with a remark that could serve as a motto for a chair of the philosophy and history of scienti c concepts. There need be no contradiction between addressing ‘problems’ and seeing the world or reason in a new way. and in this sense a historical account can give meaning to the world quite as “deeply” as a philosophical treatise’ (Merleau-Ponty 1945: xvi. of Leibniz. ‘True philosophy consists in relearning to look at the world. We may say. of Wittgenstein (see Hacking 2001a). I suspect that often we only transmute old questions. when in fact we are reworking the very sources of their dissatisfaction in new ways. antinomies.2 Economy and Society of philosophy. One is struck not only by the stunning results of mathematics. Undoubtedly the most powerful style of . at least since the time of Kant. ‘How is pure mathematics possible?’ Everybody knows there is pure mathematics. trying to make smooth what is tortuous. He called these the aporias. For me. discuss these matters myself. on the one hand. even when discussing the sciences. Their questions trouble any thinking person who is able to experience the phenomenon of mathematical proof. 1995). that they have proposed totally bizarre theories about the nature of mathematics. So astonished have our most famous teachers been. but as part of a larger project. Dissatisfaction? Yes.

that Musil was a perfect emblem for the probability revolution. cosmic collisions. It did not occur to any of us. Perhaps only one export will remain. will be forgotten. One. He used as his example the Wassermann test for syphilis – an affair of.2 I take the idea from Ludwik Fleck. Does not nature provide us with enough phenomena? he expostulated. Within twenty years the instrument makers of Paris had cheap models on sale. a world in which everything is cloaked in probabilities. models that created better vacuums than Boyle could produce. That was left to Jacques Bouveresse (1993). by lling a glass tube with mercury. The triumph of probability was engineered in the nineteenth century and perfected in the twentieth. In modern times we make phenomena. large and small. Men were going to create new phenomena. To return to styles of reasoning: I am not concerned with historical incidents. It has become the fashion in contemporary history of science to analyse relatively brief and fascinating incidents. which does not observe the workings of nature but intervenes in them. their uncommon language. There are many more styles of reasoning. had arrived. and deploring the future. is the statistical style. Non-German members of the group met to improve their skills at speaking German. politics. I am addressing a history of science in the long term. which was emerging four centuries ago. or isolate and purify them. In ancient times men studied. Robert Boyle then created this phenomenon in the laboratory by perfecting the air pump. who in 1935 wrote of Denkstile (Fleck 1979[1935]). Are not nature’s phenomena open to all. their private manipulations of things. even if styles do emerge in quite speci c historical frameworks.1 Laboratory science. I shall tell you a small anecdote. Jacques Bouveresse has taken Robert Musil as the prophet of the new age. observed and speculated about phenomena. reading and discussing Musil. electrons. the wave function. accessible only to a few technicians? Hobbes. at most. sex. is what I call the laboratory style. He lost. In ages to come most of what Europe has exported to the rest of the world. already an old man. Thomas Hobbes saw the writing on the wall. Now it is inescapable. sports. to which I have perhaps dedicated too much of my life. Hobbes hated that. and chose to do so in a reading club. while those machinations in the laboratory are all too private. that which has permanently changed the world. and that is the laboratory style of reasoning. He detested the élite world of the scientists. that which is altering and engineering the world at this moment. in the course of a year. Much of the new historical and philosophical work on probability was stimulated by a research group working in Bielefeld in 1983. inverting it in a bowl of the same substance. the Polish epidemiologist. decades. that which has made possible the modern world. Evangelista Torricelli makes a vacuum. leaving a space above it with – nothing. His rst pumps cost him much of his own private fortune and a large subsidy from the English government.Ian Hacking: Inaugural lecture 3 reasoning. saw exactly what was going to happen. or extracted from it. The mercury falls. That story is already a model for the future interactions of science and technology. I am following a completely different trail. disease. It is perfectly compatible with the microsociology of science in vogue at . It has totally changed our feel of the daily world in which we live.

or are they the fabrications of the human mind? Are electrons real. is the foundation stone for objectivity and. into our living. in the strictly historical. and on the side generates. I argue that each style introduces its own criteria of proof and demonstration. essential. more precisely. In some ways it is close to an approach of Pierre Bourdieu’s. Every style of reasoning creates an ontological dispute. A style of reasoning is more than a group of techniques for bringing new kinds of fact into our awareness. I contend. or the power of the continuum. and also something needed for thought itself. but it is something else. for each new class of entities. and that it is therefore historical through and through. mental. self-authenticating. far from implying any kind of subjectivism. with – in the extreme – the opposition between Platonism and mathematical constructivism. social world. This leads me to altogether radical theses about truth and objectivity. but entirely speci c logic through which the exceptional universes in which the singular history of reason is ful lled were established. translation quoted from Bourdieu 2000: 109) Nevertheless my aims are metaphysical. or only constructions made by human beings? Each controversy is conducted in its own register.4 Economy and Society present. in the laboratory. It is. reproducibility. It is not quite as original as it seems. and that it determines the truth conditions appropriate to the domains to which it can be applied. the introduction of new types of objects and new ways to verify judgements about them is one source of the stability of the sciences. It is in history. a new realism/anti-realism debate. that it is reducible to history. at least when he writes: We have to acknowledge that reason did not fall from heaven as a mysterious and forever inexplicable gift. or only instruments for thinking and organizing phenomena? Are numbers. I say that it creates the very criteria of truth. The idea that styles are self-authenticating is difficult but. Or think of the debates about the reality of non-observable entities in the most theoretical sciences. with what is both the essence of one style of scienti c reasoning. as is often supposed. (Bourdieu 1998: 130. It recalls the old veri cationist theory of meaning. and in history alone. Moreover. or. Do these new objects really exist. I say. I mean classi cation. however. in the most traditional form given it by Moritz Schlick. My approach no more leads to an inane subjectivism about the sciences than that of the logical positivists. Each style introduces a new class of objects. Each scienti c style of reasoning introduces a new domain of objects to study. or rather with the ways in which a style of reasoning introduces new ways of nding out the truth. . Let us begin. think of the reality of mathematical objects. real. I wish to dig that out of the dustbin of history and polish it anew. but we are not forced to conclude. that we must seek the principle of the relative independence of reasons from the history of which it is a product. as I like to say. and about the reality of scienti c objects themselves. I am concerned with ‘truth’ itself. But I do have the task of showing that self-authentication. To stick to the most familiar examples.

Many of our physicist colleagues would say that is precisely what is the triumph of modern theoretical physics. Pierre Duhem. The going and coming of the waves is the faithful image of those attempts at explanation which arise only to be crumbled. but also sometimes not even reaching the pebble made wet by the former wave.Ian Hacking: Inaugural lecture 5 Classi cation is at the core of the taxonomic sciences. In the Middle Ages the schoolmen debated realism and nominalism. Classes. the other. run. But under this super cial to-and-fro motion. tree-like structure. expressed . That was the mood of the time. and guarantees to physical doctrines the continuity of a tradition. family. Long ago these ctions were made out to be a product of the individual human mind. Those arguments do not interest me directly. sometimes going a little farther than the preceding one. another movement is produced. It is not by dint of obtaining deeper and deeper explanatory theories. I am struck by his view of how we progress. One party said that there really are some classes found in nature. on the other. on the one hand. slower. deeper. genus. are a ction. this comparison seems to us very appropriate. uncurl itself. a new wave follows. The arguments differ. and I do not quarrel with them. a little more than a century ago. Which taxa are real? Species. There are still extraordinary ghts about which system is natural to classify. two men who are seldom put side by side. and that our names do not pick out a real species of individuals. however. then withdraw by leaving dry the terrain which it had seemed to conquer. and by virtue of it the sea constantly rises. genera. There is nothing in the world but individual entities. and cover a narrow strip of sand. but we can learn from them. the other German. Whoever casts a brief glance at the waves striking a beach does not see the tide mount. of systematic botany and zoology. groups. one French. it is a progressive movement continuing steadily in the same direction. So I should like to draw on the middle ground by quoting two very different authors. (Duhem 1906: 58. translation quoted from Duhem 1956: 38)3 I do not cite Duhem as a wonderful exponent of scienti c progress. We have the same old ontological debate. another party sometimes went so far as to say that it is only we who group things into classes. underneath there continues the slow and constant progress of natural classi cation whose ow steadily conquers new lands. phylum? Which are introduced simply for the convenience of a tidy. First Duhem. and which represent how living things really are related? Disputes about the truth of classi cation precede anything we now call science. he sees a wave rise. and it may be pursued in further detail. Today they are discussed as a product of society and human history. Pierre Duhem and Friedrich Nietzsche. in 1906: Scienti c progress has often been compared to a mounting tide. shared with his contemporary Henri Poincaré a great scepticism about explanation. applied to the evolution of physical theories. one writing just less than a century ago. and with very recent debates. which advance only to retreat. but the issues remain strangely familiar. imperceptible to the casual observer. We are perhaps too familiar with the ancients or the scholastics.

even if we might never reach nal agreement on the structure itself. Duhem’s instinct was exactly the opposite of that of Thomas Kuhn. Duhem’s account of stability and growth is. He thought that in physics we increasingly group phenomena together in ways that were not anticipated. We came to recognize new species too. But he was equally struck by the stability of. Two of Kant’s great a priori bodies of knowledge. he became a philosopher of language. from our present point of view. fast and eetingly present items – is incorporated into cosmology and a story of ‘the rst three minutes’ of the universe. He modelled his idea of classi cation on the life sciences. revolution after revolution. for example. He argued that the language of one system of classi cation cannot be expressed. in the language of new classi cations. And he would nd full con rmation for his vision of physics in the way in which high energy physics – the study of very small. and in England by Karl Pearson. completely unexpected. perhaps even down to the enigmatic Higgs boson. are entirely unstable. But the ways in which phenomena are classed together are fundamentally stable. in his case. grow more exact and persist. He produced a theory of what he called scienti c ‘lexicons’ that he did not live to complete. . Kuhn tried to explain scienti c revolutions. Gaston Bachelard. Revolutions in science were less a matter of revising theories and explanations than of changing classi catory structures. about space and causation. and his idea of ‘incommensurability’.ghting about the correct principles according to which we shall classify living things – inghting that continues to this present day. for example. Duhem thought that. collapsed. Only now have some philosophers been able to relax and discuss the extraordinary stability of the sciences. Kuhn had been a historian of science. seen as a large family of phenomena with its various genera. Their century began with truly astounding scienti c revolutions. the standard model and so forth were to be superseded. They overthrew not only physics but also philosophy. Thomas Kuhn. In this respect he was a proper predecessor of Gaston Bachelard and Thomas Kuhn. He was well aware that there continued to be in. would stay with us. His own familiar example was the story of visible light. after a revolution. polarized and unpolarized light. and expand with each successive wave of new theory. but whose outlines are fairly distinct. But he thought that the taxonomies themselves increasingly re ected some underlying structure within life. the history of explanatory theories of light was a history of mutation after mutation. the kinds of entities we now countenance. Today Duhem would expect that even if gauge theory. that is.6 Economy and Society in Germany by Heinrich Hertz and Ernst Mach. abandoned explanation after abandoned explanation. These men were products of their times. In the sciences classi cations expand. Special relativity and the new quantum theory were the most radical. the increasingly stable representation of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The twentieth century was dominated by thoughts of refutation. In the last ten years of his life. revolution and epistemological breaks in science: Karl Popper. in terms of the destruction of one system of classi cation and its replacement by another. physics. he thought. Explanations.

treacherous and we might even say false friends when they are put to work by philosophers. even to their skin – due to the continuous growth of belief in it from generation to generation. this gradually grows. replaced or overthrown. to appear to be perfectly neutral. He expresses the rm conviction that in the sciences our fundamental explanations of phenomena are not very stable. deceitful. the idea of nature has served as a way to disguise ideology. But they are shifting. Alongside Duhem I wish to put Friedrich Nietzsche. And no study of the word ‘natural’ can fail to touch on that other great ideological word. and can be expected to go on being revised. I choose Duhem for one reason only. Do not trust that word favoured by Duhem and Putnam alike: ‘natural’. I am good. From at latest the time of Aristotle. but also in all the branches of science. you are bad. where he published paragraph-long aphorisms. and turns into its very body. The initial appearance almost always becomes the essence in the end and acts as its essence. its customary measure and weight – which in the beginning is an arbitrary error for the most part. L. the Linnaean system was arti cial. Some twenty years before Duhem published his book on the nature of physics. Austin showed for ‘real’. ‘real’. but that is not my point here. But only a fool would think it was enough to point to this misty mantle of illusion in order to destroy the world that counts as essential. Nietzsche was in Italy. as opposed to ‘natural’ ones. The fame. thrown over things like a garment and alien to their essence. onto and into the thing.’ This talk of natural families led to an entire doctrine of natural groups. name and appearance of a thing. what it counts as. One of its aphorisms reads as follows: unspeakably more depends on what things are called than on what they are.Ian Hacking: Inaugural lecture 7 I happen to think that Duhem is in some ways closer to the truth than Kuhn. as J. however. as it were. His method was natural. even to the present day. ‘My classi cation is true’. On such a basis John Stuart Mill led the English philosophers to create a whole philosophy of ‘natural kinds’. Putnam and Kripke. But the very word ‘natural’ is deeply ideological. One of its most recent uses is in the battle over genetically modi ed foods. I use Duhem as an example of a philosopher profoundly committed to the idea of stable. It still ourishes largely thanks to the work of Quine. ‘yours is false. growing and persistent natural classi cations – not just among living things. I shall examine the legitimating idea of nature at some length. The German title is Die fröhliche Wissenschaft: ‘la gaya scienza’. These are such handy words in ordinary life. No study of classi cation can escape the obligation to examine the roots of this idea. and to see how it has served different ideologies. (Nietzsche 1974[1887]: Aphorism §58) . We know it as The Gay Science. But our classi cations of phenomena become increasingly stable with the growth of the sciences. In the history of classi cation it may have been Michel Adanson who rst put ‘natural’ to work. For now. so-called ‘reality’! Only as creators can we destroy! But we should also not forget this: creating new names and assessments and apparent truths is eventually enough to create new ‘things’. he implied.

For a name to begin to do its creative work. With new names.8 Economy and Society One could build an entire inaugural lecture around this single text. it needs authority. classi cation. Gradually we solidify its body. that with which we interact: that in which we super cially intervene. of a historical ontology. For once I would like to be totally unimaginative. and at particular times. modi ed or overthrown. by creation. in some of my work. new sorting. You cannot destroy illusions by pointing to them. but which could be overthrown by creation. One needs usage within institutions. only with layer after layer of usage. Naming alone is never enough to create. re ect social structures. attending too little to what we do. Only with usage. it is that even he is still a philosopher. evolves. It was traditionally thought of as a timeless discipline. too attentive to what we say. Michel Foucault did far more than historical ontology. being in time. new naming. He helped bring things into being. Naming does its work only as a social history works itself out. its surface. I have quoted from La Théorie physique and Die fröhliche Wissenschaft. Perhaps the most succinct way to state my debt. new objects come into being. and propose that . Nietzsche saw a stability that he detested. but whose structures we will need in order to think until they are altered not by deconstruction but by construction. is criticized. You cannot escape classi cations by maintaining that they are historical. We have a technical word in philosophy for the study of being: ‘ontology’. If we have a complaint about Nietzsche. to the ideas and practices of Michel Foucault is by mentioning the title of a book that I shall publish next year: Historical Ontology (Hacking 2002b). His was a creative ontology as well as a historical one. and nally we have the sense of an essence – an essence that we have brought into being. He speaks. Duhem asserts both growth and stability. We live in a classi ed world which might be deconstructed in a playful way. or by mocking them with irony. including those for animals and plants. Nietzsche speaks of the appearance and disappearance of objects. Not quickly. That is a somewhat negative remark. We would not expect him to agree with Nietzsche about anything. relatively unre ective. Probably Nietzsche thought all that was too obvious to need saying. It is not so much that we rst create the essence of a new object. Only with a genetic inheritance of classifying abilities would children be able to learn how to classify at all. not of being in general but of being in particular. social and mental products. But the two men are not so far apart. Nur als schaffende! Pierre Duhem was a physicist. Emile Durkheim argued that classi cation systems. But both cognitive scientists and Durkheim were in a certain sense talking about initial. but Nietzsche had a positive message. we might say. historian of the natural sciences and a devout Roman Catholic. Objects come into being. That is an expression that Michel Foucault was using in 1982. Neither is talking about the beginning of classi cation. We do not usually think of physics as fröhliche – joyous. Naming occurs in sites. but its skin. Many cognitive scientists maintain that the basic principles of classi cation are innate. particular places. Nietzsche and Duhem were talking about what happens as a classi cation endures through time.

connotations. Of course names work in different ways at different times. That hurts. bullies would shout insults. Writing about Arendt and the feminine genius. And for some time now genius has been measured by the high end of an intelligence test. but not because the plants understand what is said to them. Ray Monk argues. of physicians. in his biography of Wittgenstein. Our universe could have been different. Names affect us in many other ways. They use words to think about themselves and to express their feelings to others. Names can hurt. but in a world of meanings. Let us think about creating ‘new names’ for people and their behaviour: rst in the children’s playground. Julia Kristeva nds the roots of genius in an earlier era. They change us. Sex appeal: modern images of naked women who are attractive to men do not even resemble the ones painted by Rubens or Renoir. We shouted back: ‘Sticks and stones may break your bones. And the world of those who know they are fat is a world invaded by instruments: scales. fantasies. Some people maintain that talking to plants does affect them. In another place and time. Maybe so. authorities. it could have been comforting to be fat. as mere sounds and signi ers. Names work on us. In a more animated universe than ours. Allzumenschliches – human. People are aware of what is said about them. because they have quite different associations. 2001). A child is called ‘fatso’ or ‘tubby’ on the playground. The reason is obvious. tables prepared by actuaries. insurance companies. It is world of norms. Sticks and stones are not aware. An analysis of classi cations of human beings is an analysis of classi catory words in the sites in which they are used. enjoyed and was tortured by ‘the duty of genius’.’ We did not really believe it. analogies. entities less than people but more than . of external descriptions and internal sensibilities. Maybe it does. Hannah Arendt saw the very idea of genius as an invention of the early German romantics. It makes even more of a difference when you see yourself that way. of the relations between speaker and hearer. diets. The word ‘fat’ does not act on us out of the blue. Duhem had the so-called natural phenomena of physics in view. lovers. all too human. Nietzsche was above all re ecting on human phenomena. Some people believe that saying words over a new ship affects the fortunes of the ship. Names do not work alone. but not because the ship is aware of these words. when an act of God imprinted an inspired vision into a holy man or woman (Kristeva 1999. They work in an immense world of practices. ‘Fat’ is no mere word. that the man felt. and then in the human sciences. measuring tapes. That is not so true for names such as ‘stick’ and ‘stone’. stories. institutions. but names will never hurt you. things – and I mean things – would be different. Menschliches. When I was a child. That is not a world that I inhabit. It makes a difference when you are told that you are fat or a genius. but only because fat is despised. memories. Calling people names is intended to hurt. Nevertheless we shall have to examine carefully borderline cases.Ian Hacking: Inaugural lecture 9 the two men were chie y thinking of two different types of classi catory elds. they change how we experience our lives and how we choose our futures.

Systematic and institutionalized social sciences have their retinues of statistical data and computer analyses that work with classi cations of people. are agents. and our classi cations themselves may have to be modi ed. very aware of their social environment. or because they require Verstehen rather than explanation. Children are conscious. In order to explain this idea of ‘interaction’. If we were to live among cyborgs. and our emotions are classi ed in very human ways. but. an actual span of time. But I am not dogmatic about humans. in a word. The medical sciences have a peculiar position. Thus the classi cation and diagnosis is constructed. There is a strong drive to nd hereditary antecedents for many illnesses. as the philosophers say. aware. The human and the social sciences do not differ from natural ones primarily because they deal in what are called social constructions. the ways in which we are ill. and may even change them. not quite social sciences. Some people mean that the idea of childhood (and all that implies) has been constructed. let us start explaining with a very different sort of example. and the individuals or behaviour classi ed. including types of madness. including psychiatry. Dogs and horses do understand their masters. perhaps. People. or even to become cyborgs. now called by a name invented in 1960. our attitudes. perhaps to the point where the two would become intertwined in a world that no one can foresee. In the case of psychiatric disorders. For example. cyborgs? We may be close to the fundamental difference between the natural and the human sciences. At the same time. or even a period in the life of a human being. our demeanour. childhood has been called a social construct. On the one hand. which in turn con rms the diagnosis. self-conscious. In the wake of that book. the thrust of medical sciences. and what about ‘cybernetic organisms’. including children. They differ because there is a dynamical interaction between the classi cations developed in the social sciences. When we characterise a type of person or behaviour. namely people and groups of people who may change in part because they are aware of how they are classi ed. it may be claimed that current systems of diagnosis and treatment themselves help to produce the kinds of disturbed behaviour characteristic of the illness. Others mean that a certain state of a person. biological feedback would become part of daily life. Some thinkers may even mean that children. these may be biochemical or neurological or both. In fact the classi cations in the social sciences aim at moving targets. prediction and control. less articulate than many adults. they act. Hence regularities about individuals of that kind may change. are constructed. Our knowledge of those individuals must be revised as they change. is to discover fundamental organic causes of illness. Recall Philippe Ariès’s famous Centuries of Childhood (1973). Classi catory feedback would continue in parallel with the semantic dynamics. under descriptions.10 Economy and Society sticks. They are not quite natural sciences. it can affect some people so classi ed in a direct way. It is taken for granted that these classi cations work in the same way as those in the natural sciences. has been constructed. I have called that the looping effect of human kinds. and this very construction interacts with troubled people and helps to produce their behaviour. The . as they exist today. our actions.

but it is also. what they believe about themselves. if only because of being treated or institutionalized in a certain way. new knowledge about ‘the criminal’ or ‘the homosexual’ becomes known to the people classi ed. These distinctions matter to more than the sciences. or because of how they have been treated as so classi ed. they cannot behave differently because they are aware of how they are classi ed. agency and action. at present. and so experiencing themselves in that way. the classi cation that is true to nature. . There is what I call a looping effect (Hacking 1995). There can be strong interactions. The notion of an interactive classi cation is fuzzy but not useless. just because of the looping effect of human classi cations? That is. We are especially concerned with classi cations that. Most of our familiar descriptions of other people and ourselves have very little to do with science. equally true for some but only some investigators who study homosexuality (the search for the homosexual gene) or violent crime (is that an innate and heritable propensity?) (Stein 1999). Likewise we experience ourselves in the world as being persons of various classi cations. Plenty of classi cations differ fundamentally from any of the human classi cations just mentioned. are by no means independent of the available descriptions under which they may act. the way in which the actors may become self-aware as being classi ed in a certain way. the right classi cation. when known by people or by those around them. change the ways in which individuals experience themselves – and may even lead people to evolve their feelings and behaviour in part because they are so classi ed. changes the way that individuals behave. There is a constant drive in the social and psychological sciences to emulate the natural sciences. Quarks are not aware. and to produce true natural classi cations of people. What name shall we give to classi cations like that? Indifferent will do. and indeed their ways of being. Classi cations that are the subject of intense scienti c scrutiny are of special interest. The classi cation ‘quark’ is indifferent in the sense that calling a quark a quark makes no difference to the quark. and put to work in institutions. But perhaps it is a moving target. and act accordingly.4 There is a picture of an object to be searched out. a xed target if only we can get there. Not surprising: quarks are not aware.Ian Hacking: Inaugural lecture 11 courses of action that they choose. looping back to force changes in the classi cations and knowledge about them. Our knowledge about quarks affects quarks. We are not far from the words of Nietzsche: creating new names and assessments and apparent truths is eventually enough to create new ‘things’. What was known about people classi ed in a certain way may become false because people so classi ed have changed in virtue of how they have been classi ed. Such classi cations (of people and their behaviour) are interactive. But it does not affect them because they become aware of what we know. The inter may suggest the way in which the classi cation and the individual classi ed may interact. This ugly phrase has the merit of recalling actors. This is evidently true for basic research on pathologies such as schizophrenia. A few of them may be affected by what people do to them in accelerators.

I mentioned what interactive classifications do to us. or modi ed ones. Paris. between Linnaeus and Adanson. or to act. I turned to what seemed the easiest to understand. This is. John Stuart Mill took it beyond botany and made it central to analytic philosophy. the classificatory and taxonomic style. they seem hard to understand. in some of its particular and local uses. We shall have to ponder certain words of Pascal with which I conclude. and the idea of nature that they presuppose. It is a tradition that is directly descended from the early days of the debate between the system and the method. We may take for granted the indifferent classifications of the natural sciences. who own the copyright of the French version. seemingly so transparent. this year.5 Acknowledgement A previous version of this article was published in French by the Collège de France. These are some aspects of the ways in which we ‘make up people’. And so. to use a phrase of Bertrand Russell’s ‘the doctrine of natural kinds’. Every word of Pascal’s Pensées is specific. and how we create classes anew. That could be a eld of study. but a lot of questions arise at once. and of our situation in the world. just as habit is a second nature. It relates to a whole range of disciplines and subdisciplines. . masking with its air of innocence an entire theory of the place. I may have sketched a possible investigation – how classi cations affect us. and I spoke of a looping effect of human kinds. He intended them in a very specific context. where it still prospers. You will see that I have proceeded from the general to the particular. I told you about styles of reasoning in the sciences. but we can hear them in a new way. and located in a context. Especially interesting are the ways in which new classi cations. roles and duties of human beings. even when the most general thoughts are in his mind.12 Economy and Society The ways in which we classify others and ourselves matter to us. from labelling theory to the cognitive sciences. In contrast there is a philosophical tradition that deals with the classi cation of things found in nature. I shall begin with a study of natural classifications. or dimly imagined. Every one of the implicit or explicit assumptions I have been making can be challenged. No one in this tradition ever sees how the word ‘nature’ itself. ideological. open up new ways for us to be. That itself must turn to a study of the very idea of nature. But now I ask you to think about them. So these words of his are out of his intended context. A more abstract name for this type of inquiry is ‘the dynamics of classifying people’. But there is no received body of philosophical study of the classi cations of people. They can also close off options that we once had. is polemical. with a new and also specific application to natural classifications: But what is nature? Why is habit not natural? I am very much afraid that nature itself is only a rst habit.

—— and —— (1995) Conversations on Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.-P. J. (1991) ‘Arti cial phenomena’. NJ: Princeton University Press. Chicago: Chicago University Press. MA: Harvard University Press. Trenn. J. Fleck. in D. trans. in D. (1999) Hannah Arendt: Le Génie feminin: la vie. R. Combas: L’Eclat. Wachbroit (eds) Genetics and Criminal Behavior. 4 Part I of Stein’s book has a great deal to say about natural and human kinds. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Baldick. Sperber. T. London: British Academy. see my comments in Hacking (2002). 126.) Mathematics and Necessity. Changeux. Princeton. Kristeva. Louis Lafuma. and Connes. I repeat. Duhem. Bradley and T. 2 For a more detailed prolegomenon. trans. J. M. P. —— (1995) ‘The looping effects of human kinds’. A. Notice that Duhem was not uttering a paean to scienti c progress. Wasserman and R. —— (2002a) ‘How “natural” are “kinds” of sexual orientation’. trans. see Hacking (1992). pp. New York: Columbia University Press. in T. pp. Premack (eds) Causal Cognition: an Interdisciplinary Approach. F. P. degeneracy and looping’. 141–67. Philippe Selliers. Harmondsworth: Penguin. P. Nice. which includes Hacking (2001b). (1906) La Théorie physique: son objet et sa structure. (1989) Matière à pensée. —— (1992) ‘ “Style” for historians and philosophers’. 351–83. J. Guberman. No. No. (1973) Centuries of Childhood. Weiner. See also Wasserman and Wachbroit (2001). —— (2000) Pascalian Meditations. as the published translation seems to imply. Bourdieu. R. 159. . (1993) L’Homme probable: Robert Musil. Pascal was discussing the fear of fathers that their children will cease to love them. 3 On two occasions I have altered Wiener’s translation. Numbered differently by different editors: Léon Brunschvig. R. Merton. ed. Paris: Odile Jacob. P. See Hacking (1991). T. British Journal for the History of Science 24: 235–41. 93. Smiley (ed. pp. Cambridge. trans. 21: 95–107. P. (1998) Méditation pascaliennes. but is speaking speci cally about the progress of la classi cation naturelle. 83–138. Bouveresse. Kuhn. (1979[1935]) Genesis and Development of a Scienti c Fact. —— (2001a) ‘What mathematics has done to some and only some philosophers’. trans. Studies in History and Philosophy 23: 1–20. D. les mots. NJ: Princeton University Press. —— (2002b) Historical Ontology. —— (1956) The Aim and Structure of a Physical Theory. as opposed to scienti c explanation. la moyenne et l’escargot de l’histoire. —— (2001) Hannah Arendt. the passage is taken out of context. Cambridge: Polity Press. No. 5 Pascal (1966: 61). J. Trenn and R. References Ariès. S. (1962) Phenomenology of Perception. Law and Philosophy. le hasard. Premack and A. Princeton. I. Matter and Mathematics. Paris: Fayard. —— (2001b) ‘Criminal behavior. Hacking. foreword by T.Ian Hacking: Inaugural lecture Notes 13 1 We owe this account of the history to Shapin and Schaffer (1985). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. J. la folie. Merleau-Ponty. Paris: Seuil. T. C. Paris: Chevalier & Rivière. Smith. K. trans. L.

by W. D. New York: Vintage Books. with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs. S.14 Economy and Society Boyle and the Experimental Life. Stein. Friedrich (1974 [1887]) The Gay Science. Nietzsche. (1966) Pensées. Kaufmann. from the 2nd edn. Harmondsworth: Penguin. . trans. Princeton. Pascal. J. (1999) The Mismeasure of Desire: The Science. T. T. S. New York: Oxford University Press. and Wachbroit. Wasserman. Krailsheimer. (eds) (2001) Genetics and Criminal Behavior. R. —— (1945) Phénoménologie de la perception. Theory and Ethics of Sexual Orientation. B. trans. (1985) Leviathan and the Air Pump: Hobbes. with commentary. A. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. NJ: Princeton University Press. and Schaffer. Shapin. E. Paris: Gallimard.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful