First Pieter Zeeman Lecture: Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, “On the Narrative Order of Things Experimental” (Amsterdam, 2 March 2017)

14 februari 2017

On March 2nd, the first Pieter Zeemanlezing organised under auspices of the Vossius Center will be held by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin). The lecture is titled On the Narrative Order of Things Experimental.


In the sciences, in one way or another, writing has traditionally been claimed to fulfill the demand to let the things themselves tell their stories. My aim in this lecture is to give this image a particular twist: In taking it up, I intend to subvert it. Posing the question of narration and of narrativity with respect to the representation of scientific knowledge does not only mean to pose the question of its objects and their concatenation, but also the question of the subject of the sciences. In trying to answer this question one stands, sooner or later, before an alternative that can be formulated as follows: Either one lets disappear the scientist behind the transcendence of the – divine or secular – order of things. Or one opposes this kind of hypostatic objectivism and lines up the scientific discourse about the order of things experimental with the stream of all those stories that we humans tell us ourselves. In the lecture, test tube experimentation in the context of the history of molecular biology will serve me as an exemplification of my points.

Pieter Zeemanlezing

The Pieter Zeemanlezing is organised under auspices of the Vossius Center. With many thanks to the Stichting Pieter Zeeman Fonds.


The Agnietenkapel has a limited number of seats, so we kindly ask you to register if you wish to attend the lecture. For registration, see

Time and venue

2 March 2017, 17.00-19.30 hrs in the Agnietenkapel, Oudezijdsvoorburgwal 229, Amsterdam