Formation in Science: A Cultural Exegesis of Scientific Research Practices
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While many influential philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists of science have theorized how science works to discover or construct truth, less work has been done examining how scientific practice forms scientists. As an alternative to the purely rational formulation of humans in the Western philosophical tradition, theologian James K. A. Smith argues that humans are fundamentally desiring beings whose loves are shaped and directed by cultural practices. Drawing from these conceptual frameworks and my firsthand experience in an inorganic chemistry lab, this thesis explores how the daily routines in a scientific research lab shape scientists’ images of the good life. From washing glassware to writing in a lab notebook, the various practices comprising scientific research activity instill in scientists a complex constellation of values, including truth, purity, objectivity, order, and utility.