Fusion of Sign and Referent
In this chapter, I focus on the interpretation of (unknown) graphs as they come off the research apparatus in an advanced research laboratory in biology; based on this initial interpretation, the scientists discard the data or save them for more detailed analysis conducted when they are no longer under the time constraints imposed by the ongoing experiment. These interpretations have not been practiced and rationalized; rather they are the results of analyzing the graphs in a first-time-through manner. But in this first time through, the scientists exhibit the methods by which what they do becomes naturally accountable. The scientists also use their interpretations to make decisions about whether their experimental apparatus is properly functioning and whether the sample is still in sufficiently good state to permit an analysis. My analysis renders evident that scientists build up complex schemes for reading graph through extensive experience with all parts of their apparatus. This apparatus is a form of optical device that allows the scientists to see the natural object of their interest—here salmonids, or rather, pieces of their retina. I use a cultural-historical analysis to show how the laboratory and its inhabitants come to internalize processes that are initially mediated by tool use.
KeywordsMain Text Natural Object Visual Pigment Double Cone Single Cone
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