Faraday is often described as an experimentalist, but his work is a dialectical interplay of concrete objects, visual images, abstract, theoretically-informed visual models and metaphysical precepts. From phenomena described in terms of patterns formed by lines of force he created a general explanation of space-filling systems of force which obey both empirical laws and principles of conservation and economy. I argue that Faraday's articulation of situated experience via visual models into a theory capable of verbal expression owed much to his strategy of moving—via conjectural visual models—between the phenomenology of particulars (often displayed as patterns) and the general features of dynamical phenomena which he depicted as structures.

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Author notes

David Gooding is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science in the Psychology Department at the University of Bath, U.K. He is Director of the Science Studies Centre and is Director of Studies of the MSc in Science, Culture and Communication which he established in 1998.