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Technology and Biopolitics from Heidegger to Agamben
Has biopolitics actually become thanatopolitics, a field of study obsessed with death? Is there something about the nature of biopolitical thought today that makes it impossible to deploy affirmatively? If this is true, what can life-minded thinkers put forward as the merits of biopolitical reflection? These questions drive Improper Life, Timothy C. Campbell’s dexterous inquiry-as-intervention.
Campbell argues that a “crypto-thanatopolitics” can be teased out of Heidegger’s critique of technology and that some of the leading scholars of biopolitics—including Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, and Peter Sloterdijk—have been substantively influenced by Heidegger’s thought, particularly his reading of proper and improper writing. In fact, Campbell shows how all of these philosophers have pointed toward a tragic, thanatopolitical destination as somehow an inevitable result of technology. But in Improper Life he articulates a corrective biopolitics that can begin with rereadings of Foucault (especially his late work regarding the care and technologies of the self), Freud (notably his writings on the drives and negation), and Gilles Deleuze (particularly in the relation of attention to aesthetics).
Throughout Improper Life, Campbell insists that biopolitics can become more positive and productively asserts an affirmative technē not thought through thanatos but rather practiced through bíos.
Ways of Thinking about the Sciences and the Arts
The act of interpretation occurs in nearly every area of the arts and sciences. That ubiquity serves as the inspiration for the fourteen essays of this volume, covering many of the domains in which interpretive practices are found. Individual topics include: the general nature of interpretation and its forms; comparing and contrasting interpretation and hermeneutics; culture as interpretation seen through Hegel's aesthetics; interpreting philosophical texts; methodologies for interpreting human action; interpretation in medical practice focusing on manifestations as indicators of disease; the brain and its interpretative, structured, learning and storage processes; interpreting hybrid wines and cognitive preconceptions of novel objects; and the importance of sensory perception as means of interpreting in the case of dry German Rieslings. In an interesting turn, Nicholas Rescher writes on the interpretation of philosophical texts. Then Catherine Wilson and Andreas Blank explicate and critique Rescher's theories through analysis of the mill passage from Leibniz's Monadology.
Mechanical Philosophy in the Making
The contribution of the Dutch craftsman and scholar Isaac Beeckman to early modern scientific thought has never been properly acknowledged. Surprisingly free from the constraints of traditional natural philosophy, he developed a view of the world in which everything, from the motion of the heavens to musical harmonies, is explained by reducing it to matter in motion. His ideas deeply influenced Descartes and Gassendi. Klaas van Berkel has succeeded in unearthing and explicating Beeckman's scientific notebooks, allowing us to follow how he developed his new philosophy, almost day by day. Beeckman was almost forgotten until the discovery of his notebooks in the early twentieth century. Isaac Beeckman on Matter and Motion is the first full-length study of the ideas and motives of this remarkable figure. Van Berkel's important study first relates Beeckman's life, placing him in the religious, intellectual, educational, and social context of the Dutch Republic in its golden age. Van Berkel then analyzes the notebooks themselves and the nature and development of Beeckman's "mechanical philosophy." He demonstrates how Beeckman's artisanal background and religious convictions shaped his natural philosophy, even as the decisive influence stems from the educational philosophy of the sixteenth-century French philosopher Peter Ramus. Historians of science and the philosophy of science will find the substance of Beeckman's thought and the unraveling of its growth and development highly interesting. Van Berkel's account provides a new and comprehensive interpretation of the origins of the mechanical philosophy of nature, the philosophy that culminated in the work of Isaac Newton.
Science and the Hunt for Reality
Can science fully comprehend the whole of the material universe? Not according to Joe Rosen. There is no question that advancements in science—especially in physics—have radically changed our concept of nature, revolutionizing our view of the universe, even of reality itself. Rosen argues, though, that the material universe in its entirety lies beyond science. Anyone who claims otherwise, who proposes a scientific Theory of Everything to explain all aspects and phenomena of nature, only misleads and misinforms. Taking science—and the scientific method—down a peg, Rosen asserts that any understanding of the whole universe, if it is to be found at all, can come only from outside science, from nonscientific modes of comprehension and insight. He believes that popularizers of science—think Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins—are mistaken when they declare that science is on the verge of unlocking all the secrets of the universe. Perhaps without realizing it, they have crossed into the realm of metaphysics in an attempt to explain the unexplainable. In Lawless Universe Rosen explores just how far science can go in comprehending nature. He considers the separate—but entangled—domains of science and metaphysics and examines the all-too-often ignored boundary between the objective and the subjective. Thought-provoking and controversial, Lawless Universe is a complement to, even an antidote for, books that create the misimpression that science can explain everything.
An Essay on the Questions Science Can't Ask
This exciting collaboration between a biologist and a philosopher explores the meaning of the scientific worldview and how it plays out in our everyday lives. The authors investigate alternatives to scientism, the view that science is the proper and exclusive foundation for thinking about and answering every question. They ask: Does the current technoscientific worldview threaten the pursuit of living well? Do the facts procured by technoscientific systems render inconsequential our lived experiences, the wisdom of ancient and contemporary philosophical insight, and the promise offered by time-honored religious beliefs? Drawing on important Western thinkers, including Kant, Nietzsche, Darwin, Heidegger, and others, Linda Wiener and Ramsey Eric Ramsey demonstrate how many of the claims and conclusions of technoscience can and should be challenged. They offer ways of thinking about science in a larger context that respect scientific practice, while taking seriously alternative philosophical modes of thought whose aims are freedom, the good life, and living well.
Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion
This exciting compendium brings together, for the first time, some of the foremost scholars of René Girard’s mimetic theory, with leading imitation researchers from the cognitive, developmental, and neuro sciences. These chapters explore some of the major discoveries and developments concerning the foundational, yet previously overlooked, role of imitation in human life, revealing the unique theoretical links that can now be made from the neural basis of social interaction to the structure and evolution of human culture and religion. Together, mimetic scholars and imitation researchers are on the cutting edge of some of the most important breakthroughs in understanding the distinctive human capacity for both incredible acts of empathy and compassion as well as mass antipathy and violence. As a result, this interdisciplinary volume promises to help shed light on some of the most pressing and complex questions of our contemporary world.
Mobilizing Science theoretically and empirically explores the rise of a new kind of social movement—one that attempts to empower citizens through the use of expert scientific research. Sabrina McCormick advances theories of social movements, development, and science and technology studies by examining how these fields intersect in cases around the globe.
McCormick grounds her argument in two very different case studies: the anti-dam movement in Brazil and the environmental breast cancer prevention movement in the U.S. These, and many other cases, show that the scientization of society, where expert knowledge is inculcated in multiple institutions and lay people are marginalized, gives rise to these new types of movements. While activists who consequently engage in science often instigate new methods that result in new findings and scientific tools, these movements still often fail due to superficial participatory institutions and tightly knit corporate/government relationships.