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Lawless Universe

Science and the Hunt for Reality

Joe Rosen

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.

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Leaving Us to Wonder

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.

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Light and Death

Figuration in Spenser, Kepler, Donne, Milton

Judith H. Anderson

Light figures being, darkness death. Bridging mathematical science, semantics, rhetoric, grammar, and major poems, Judith H. Anderson seeks to negotiate writings from multiple disciplines in the shared terms of poiesis and figuration rather than as cultural opposites. Analogy, a type of metaphor, has always been the connector of the known to the unknown, the sensible to the infinite. Anderson’s study moves from the figuration of light and death to the history of analogy and its pertinence to light in physics and metaphysics, from Kepler to Donne, Spenser, and Milton. Topics proliferate: creativity, optics, the relation of literature to science, the methodology of thought and argument, and the processes of narrative, discovery, and interpretation.

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Made to Hear

Cochlear Implants and Raising Deaf Children

Laura Mauldin

A mother whose child has had a cochlear implant tells Laura Mauldin why enrollment in the sign language program at her daughter’s school is plummeting: “The majority of parents want their kids to talk.” Some parents, however, feel very differently, because “curing” deafness with cochlear implants is uncertain, difficult, and freighted with judgment about what is normal, acceptable, and right. Made to Hear sensitively and thoroughly considers the structure and culture of the systems we have built to make deaf children hear.

Based on accounts of and interviews with families who adopt the cochlear implant for their deaf children, this book describes the experiences of mothers as they navigate the health care system, their interactions with the professionals who work with them, and the influence of neuroscience on the process. Though Mauldin explains the politics surrounding the issue, her focus is not on the controversy of whether to have a cochlear implant but on the long-term, multiyear undertaking of implantation. Her study provides a nuanced view of a social context in which science, technology, and medicine are trusted to vanquish disability—and in which mothers are expected to use these tools. Made to Hear reveals that implantation has the central goal of controlling the development of the deaf child’s brain by boosting synapses for spoken language and inhibiting those for sign language, placing the politics of neuroscience front and center.

Examining the consequences of cochlear implant technology for professionals and parents of deaf children, Made to Hear shows how certain neuroscientific claims about neuroplasticity, deafness, and language are deployed to encourage compliance with medical technology.


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Manifestly Haraway

Donna J. Haraway

Electrifying, provocative, and controversial when first published thirty years ago, Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” is even more relevant today, when the divisions that she so eloquently challenges—of human and machine but also of gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and location—are increasingly complex. The subsequent “Companion Species Manifesto,” which further questions the human–nonhuman disjunction, is no less urgently needed in our time of environmental crisis and profound polarization.

Manifestly Haraway brings together these momentous manifestos to expose the continuity and ramifying force of Haraway’s thought, whose significance emerges with engaging immediacy in a sustained conversation between the author and her long-term friend and colleague Cary Wolfe. Reading cyborgs and companion species through and with each other, Haraway and Wolfe join in a wide-ranging exchange on the history and meaning of the manifestos in the context of biopolitics, feminism, Marxism, human–nonhuman relationships, making kin, literary tropes, material semiotics, the negative way of knowing, secular Catholicism, and more.

The conversation ends by revealing the early stages of Haraway’s “Chthulucene Manifesto,” in tension with the teleologies of the doleful Anthropocene and the exterminationist Capitalocene. Deeply dedicated to a diverse and robust earthly flourishing, Manifestly Haraway promises to reignite needed discussion in and out of the academy about biologies, technologies, histories, and still possible futures.


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Matters of Care

Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds

María Puig de la Bellacasa

To care can feel good, or it can feel bad. It can do good, it can oppress. But what is care? A moral obligation? A burden? A joy? Is it only human? In Matters of Care, María Puig de la Bellacasa presents a powerful challenge to conventional notions of care, exploring its significance as an ethical and political obligation for thinking in the more than human worlds of technoscience and naturecultures. 

Matters of Care contests the view that care is something only humans do, and argues for extending to non-humans the consideration of agencies and communities that make the living web of care by considering how care circulates in the natural world. The first of the book’s two parts, “Knowledge Politics,” defines the motivations for expanding the ethico-political meanings of care, focusing on discussions in science and technology that engage with sociotechnical assemblages and objects as lively, politically charged “things.” The second part, “Speculative Ethics in Antiecological Times,” considers everyday ecologies of sustaining and perpetuating life for their potential to transform our entrenched relations to natural worlds as “resources.” 

From the ethics and politics of care to experiential research on care to feminist science and technology studies, Matters of Care is a singular contribution to an emerging interdisciplinary debate that expands agency beyond the human to ask how our understandings of care must shift if we broaden the world.  

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The Mental and the Physical

The Essay and a Postscript

Herbert Feigl

The Mental and the Physical was first published in 1967. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Professor Feigl's essay "The 'Mental' and the 'Physical'" has provoked a great deal of comment, criticism, and discussion since it first appeared as a part of the content of Volume II of the Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science about ten years ago. Now Professor Feigl takes account of the critical discussions and presents his own comments with respect to the most important points raised in the criticisms. The essay itself is presented here in full, along with the postscript. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science has called the essay "a 'super-colossal' survey of the mind-body problem." In its review of the earlier book containing the essay, Thought said: "This essay deserves careful reading by every philosopher concerned with genuine philosophical dialogue."

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Militarizing the Environment

Climate Change and the Security State

Robert P. Marzec

As the seriousness of climate change becomes more and more obvious, military institutions are responding by taking a prominent role in the governing of environmental concerns, engaging in “climate change war games,” and preparing for the effects of climate change—from conflicts due to loss of food, water, and energy to the mass migration of millions of people displaced by rising sea levels. This combat-oriented stance stems from a self-destructive pattern of thought that Robert P. Marzec names “environmentality,” an attitude that has been affecting human–environmental relations since the seventeenth century.

Militarizing the Environment traces the rise of this influential mindset in America and other nations that threatens to supplant ideas of sustainability with demands for adaptation. In this extensive historical study of scientific, military, political, and economic formations across five centuries, Marzec reveals how environmentality has been instrumental in the development of today’s security society—informing the creation of the military-industrial complex during World War II and the National Security Act that established the CIA during the Cold War.

Now embedded in contemporary Western thought, environmentality has even infiltrated scientific thinking—transforming Darwinian insights into a quasi-theology that makes security the biological basis of existence. Marzec exposes the self-destructive nature of this increasingly accepted worldview and offers alternatives that counter the blind alleys of national and global security.


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Mimesis and Science

Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion

Scott R. Garrels

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.

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Mind and Nature

Selected Writings on Philosophy, Mathematics, and Physics

Hermann Weyl

Hermann Weyl (1885-1955) was one of the twentieth century's most important mathematicians, as well as a seminal figure in the development of quantum physics and general relativity. He was also an eloquent writer with a lifelong interest in the philosophical implications of the startling new scientific developments with which he was so involved. Mind and Nature is a collection of Weyl's most important general writings on philosophy, mathematics, and physics, including pieces that have never before been published in any language or translated into English, or that have long been out of print. Complete with Peter Pesic's introduction, notes, and bibliography, these writings reveal an unjustly neglected dimension of a complex and fascinating thinker. In addition, the book includes more than twenty photographs of Weyl and his family and colleagues, many of which are previously unpublished.

Included here are Weyl's exposition of his important synthesis of electromagnetism and gravitation, which Einstein at first hailed as "a first-class stroke of genius"; two little-known letters by Weyl and Einstein from 1922 that give their contrasting views on the philosophical implications of modern physics; and an essay on time that contains Weyl's argument that the past is never completed and the present is not a point. Also included are two book-length series of lectures, The Open World (1932) and Mind and Nature (1934), each a masterly exposition of Weyl's views on a range of topics from modern physics and mathematics. Finally, four retrospective essays from Weyl's last decade give his final thoughts on the interrelations among mathematics, philosophy, and physics, intertwined with reflections on the course of his rich life.

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