Thursday, August 2, 2018

Andrew S. Reynolds's "The Third Lens"

Andrew S. Reynolds is professor of philosophy at Cape Breton University. He has published in various history and philosophy of science journals and is the author of Peirce’s Scientific Metaphysics: The Philosophy of Chance, Law, and Evolution.

Reynolds applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Third Lens: Metaphor and the Creation of Modern Cell Biology, and reported the following:
I tried the page 99 test with my book and the results came back indisputably negative. Page 99 of my book on the role of metaphors in cell biology consists of a figure representing gene expression patterns in various types of cells during skeletal development that takes up 75% of the page. This would not give a very accurate idea of what the book is about and would probably turn off all but developmental or cell biologists, when in fact it’s about how scientists use metaphors as a kind of conceptual tool to understand and to physically manipulate cells (and their molecular components) –and how these metaphors can in turn manipulate the scientists if they’re not careful. Finally the book asks the question (and offers an answer), What does the fact that science relies so significantly on language that is literally untrue (metaphor) mean for our philosophical understanding of how science helps us to know about the world and ourselves?
Learn more about The Third Lens at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue