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The Third Lens

Metaphor and the Creation of Modern Cell Biology

Andrew S. Reynolds

The Third Lens

Andrew S. Reynolds

272 pages | 17 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226563268 Published June 2018
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226563121 Published June 2018
E-book $10.00 to $30.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226563435 Published June 2018
Does science aim at providing an account of the world that is literally true or objectively true? Understanding the difference requires paying close attention to metaphor and its role in science. In The Third Lens, Andrew S. Reynolds argues that metaphors, like microscopes and other instruments, are a vital tool in the construction of scientific knowledge and explanations of how the world works. More than just rhetorical devices for conveying difficult ideas, metaphors provide the conceptual means with which scientists interpret and intervene in the world.

Reynolds here investigates the role of metaphors in the creation of scientific concepts, theories, and explanations, using cell theory as his primary case study. He explores the history of key metaphors that have informed the field and the experimental, philosophical, and social circumstances under which they have emerged, risen in popularity, and in some cases faded from view. How we think of cells—as chambers, organisms, or even machines—makes a difference to scientific practice. Consequently, an accurate picture of how scientific knowledge is made requires us to understand how the metaphors scientists use—and the social values that often surreptitiously accompany them—influence our understanding of the world, and, ultimately, of ourselves.

The influence of metaphor isn’t limited to how we think about cells or proteins: in some cases they can even lead to real material change in the very nature of the thing in question, as scientists use technology to alter the reality to fit the metaphor. Drawing out the implications of science’s reliance upon metaphor, The Third Lens will be of interest to anyone working in the areas of history and philosophy of science, science studies, cell and molecular biology, science education and communication, and metaphor in general.
Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1. The Early History of Cell Theory: The cell as empty chamber, building stone, and elementary organism
Chapter 2. Biochemical Conceptions of the Cell: From bag of enzymes to chemical factory
Chapter 3. Cell Sociology: The cell as social agent
Chapter 4. Cell Signaling: The cell as electronic computer
Chapter 5. Metaphors in Science: “Perspectives,” “tools,” and other meta-metaphors
Chapter 6. The Instrumental Success of Scientific Metaphor: Putting the scientific realism issue into perspective

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Review Quotes
Times Higher Education
“Brief, admirably lucid. . . . His example should be an encouragement to explore other fields in the same way.”
Evelyn F. Keller, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“A rich and engaging tour of the role of metaphor in the history of cell biology.”
Garland E. Allen, Washington University
“Reynolds has done an outstanding job teasing out the many varieties of metaphors that have been applied in cell biology since the seventeenth century. Particularly insightful is the explication of how various metaphors fashioned the very epistemic foundations of biological theory—how various cell biologists have tried to understand (and explain) cell structure and function. The Third Lens makes us think seriously about metaphors not just as useful figures of speech for conveying ideas about particular phenomena, but as part and parcel of how we formulate understandings and indeed our very construction of the natural world.”
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