Hans-Jörg Rheinberger: Die Evidenz des Präparates

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Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Max-Planck Institute Berlin: »The Evidence of the Preparation«

In my presentation I take a closer look at a category of science objects which, over the course of time, has appeared in very different guises in the empirical sciences and especially in the biological sciences. I refer to preparations. Preparations are a certain category of objects in which the epistemological process unfolds. The specific feature of preparations is that they participate in the materiality of what is to be explored. They figure this materiality in a way that makes it visible and clear. The preparation does not represent; it exposes. The paradox of the scientific preparation resides in the fact that the work of preparation that goes into its representation can be considered successful if the impression gained is that the effort involved in the preparation evaporates within the object. Ideally, it will represent 'nothing but itself'. A preparation counts if it can be regarded as authentic in this sense. The question that needs to be addressed is how the epistemological and the aesthetic are connected and allied in the figure of the preparation.