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Science as Social Existence

Jeff Kochan


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1As I neared completion of this book, I was reminded of the idea that an isolated monkey tapping randomly on a keyboard for eternity would produce all possible written works. How depressing it was to suddenly realise that this book might just as well have been written by a monkey. I nevertheless draw some comfort from the fact that this task has taken me somewhat less than an eternity, and that I have not had to work entirely in isolation. Small, sometimes almost imperceptible acts of friendship — both intellectual and otherwise — have had a way of accumulating over time to tremendous effect. I acknowledge this happy circumstance, and express my thanks to all those concerned, even as I neglect to name names. There are also other, larger debts. I thank Trish Glazebrook and Simon Schaffer for their interest and encouragement at an early stage of this project. The penultimate draft was read in its entirety, or near entirety, by David Bloor, Andrew Buskell, Martin Kusch, and Estheranna Stäuble. I am very grateful to them all for their valuable comments. Although the labour that went into this book did not benefit from any direct financial support, over the span of the book’s production I did nevertheless receive financial and institutional support from several sources. Without this indirect benefit, I may not have had the grit and dosh to keep on tapping. In this regard, I thank Wolfgang Freitag, Michael Hampe, Hans Bernhard Schmid, Robert W. Smith, Marcel Weber, and, most especially, the Director, Staff, and Fellows of the Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz, where most of this book was written.

2While doing the research for this book, I relied, essentially, on the publically owned libraries of the University of Konstanz, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH-Zürich), and the Central Library of Zürich. I may never have written a book at all if I had not first, as a child and youth, spent countless hours in the public libraries of the City of Edmonton. Especially in the sub-zero winter months, these libraries offered warm refuge for all city inhabitants, including the poor and homeless, whom I often saw reading newspapers and books, listening to music, or testing one another at games of chess. This spirit of a barrier-free knowledge commons is present also in the not-for-profit, open-access publishing model of Open Book Publishers. I am delighted to be able to contribute to their admirable social enterprise.

3It behoves me to thank Estheranna Stäuble a second time, for reasons she and I know best.


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