Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table Essay

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Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table

Primo Levi’s personal relationship to his profession as a chemist shows that philosophically and psychologically, he is deeply invested in it. His book THe PeriOdic TaBLe shows that his methodology cannot be classified as either purely objective or purely subjective. He fits into the definition of dynamic objectivity given by Evelyn Fox Keller in her book Reflections on Gender and Science.

Primo Levi’s methodology cannot be called purely objective. Being purely objective would mean being not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings. Levi’s relationship to being a chemist is very much involved in how he feels. On page 33, Levi refers to zinc as “boring… tender and delicate” and says he felt
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He chose to find his own way, do to what he felt, and to take a more intimate approach to science. He regarded matter as almost human, something he could relate to and learn from, and he used his experiences with science to explain everyday life.

On the other hand, his methodology cannot be called completely subjective. He did not operate solely based the facts. Many times he even ignored what many people would see as obvious to pursue his personal relationship with science. He became so infatuated with separating nickel from a certain rock that he was blind to the fact that he was working to help Nazi Germany, which was at the time fully devoted to eradicating his race. He writes on page 77, “I was not thinking that… the nickel produced would have entirely ended up in Fascist Italy’s and Hitler Germany’s armor plate and artillery shells” (Levi 77). This to some people would seem amazing, astounding, even appalling, but to Levi it was simply what he had to do to continue his pursuit of science. Even after his experiments failed, and many years later, what remained with him was that challenge of finding a new way. This blinding to the obvious facts can be seen again later in his book when he is trying to make money of of finding alloxan. On page 180 Levi writes, “The fact that alloxan, destined to embellish ladies’ lips, would come from the excrement of chickens or pythons was a thought which didn’t trouble me

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