By Mary Poovey
Mary Poovey explores those questions in A historical past of the trendy Fact, ranging throughout an awesome array of texts and ideas from the e-book of the 1st British handbook on double-entry bookkeeping in 1588 to the institutionalization of facts within the 1830s. She exhibits how the construction of systematic wisdom from descriptions of saw details prompted govt, how numerical illustration turned the privileged motor vehicle for producing worthy evidence, and the way belief—whether figured as credits, credibility, or credulity—remained necessary to the construction of knowledge.
Illuminating the epistemological stipulations that experience made sleek social and fiscal wisdom attainable, A historical past of the trendy Fact offers vital contributions to the historical past of political suggestion, economics, technological know-how, and philosophy, in addition to to literary and cultural criticism.
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Extra info for A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society
The relation between systematic knowledge and these constitutive fictions is more visible in early double-entry bookkeeping manuals than in seven l ccnth-century accounts of natural philosophical method. Double-entry hookkeeping also provides a clearer example of the way systematic knowledge ( ould create effects beyond its explicit agenda. In addition to the obvious pur I'()se of recording commercial transactions, double-entry bookkeeping also ( i lsplayed the merchant's moral rectitude, which was signified by the balance , 1 1 1 ( 1 harmony so pronlinent in the double-entry ledger; it generalized rule I',ovcrned behavior by encouraging merchants and their agents to reproduce in ,Il l i on the orderly logic of the books; and as an effect of this generalization, it \' 1 1 1 1:1 1 1 'd the social status of merchants as a group.
1 1 1 ·ol lsly t r l l . l o 1 1 : l l u lT :Ind sysl c J l ):1ti ". Wh�t 1 )3vid I I Ll m ' W:l," to c:J1 I :1 14 C H A P T E R O N E fiction, in other words, seemed to more orthodox philosophers like God's plan; and the belief that Hume only reluctantly admitted into philosophy, as the necessary prop for system, other philosophers eagerly embraced. Because they understood the prop that supported systematic knowledge as providential de sign, most British philosophers of this period did not see a problem in the gaps that yawned in all systematic sciences, including the new sciences of wealth and society.
L i n l l' d t h l' I l OV ' I t y ot i n d u c t i on in o rder to cll::1 r ;] SpilCC tor n ew k n owl- 18 C H A P T E R O N E edge, for example, and when I argue in chapter 2 that a prototype for the basic epistemological unit of this new knowledge predated the new philosophy of the seventeenth century, I am rejecting the narrative of ruptures and revolu tions for an account of processes whose continuities were effaced-most often for social (rather than strictly epistemological) reasons. "26 While I share Foucault's suspicion of totalizing history, however, and while I wholeheartedly endorse his claim that discourses are neither struc turally homologous nor likely to change in the same way (or at the same rate) , I have not wanted to limit myself here to what he calls discourses.
A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society by Mary Poovey