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If the model is systematically linked to argumentation theory, it can serve as a valuable theoretical and methodical criterion that allows for the possibility to assess and organise important areas of public political decision-making. Such a model should keep loyalty to at least three things: to principles of rationality, e. In order to grasp the practical character of discourses, functionally oriented pragmatics is central.

In order to understand the semiotic character, Peircean semiotics and social semiotics are highly relevant. With respect to its socially constitutive character, discourse represents, creates, reproduces and changes social reality. With respect to its semiotic and pragmatic character, a discourse is a communicative and interactional macro-unit that transcends the unit of a single text or conversation. A discourse is composed of specific groups of actual texts, conversations, interactions and other semiotic events as well as action units. These concrete semiotic units are tokens , i. They serve specific purposes in social contexts, and are produced by somebody, distributed by somebody and received by somebody.

These actual discursive units relate to specific genres and other semiotic action patterns, i. The discursive units belonging to a specific discourse are intertextually linked by a macro-topic that diversifies into various discourse topics, subtopics, content-related argumentation schemes topoi , etc. Discourses are situated within political, economic, etc. The discursive units are functionally connected within these fields of action. Fields of action form the frames of discourses. Within these functional frames, discourses become parts of dispositifs and contribute to the constitution of social order.

Dispositifs are goal-oriented complexes or networks of discourse, knowledge, power and subject constitution. As parts of dispositifs, discourses help to organise, re produce and transform social relationships including power relations and social positions, institutions, knowledge and ideologies, identities and subjects, etc. Discourses develop around social problems. The problems become starting points of argumentation. Argumentation is both a verbal partly also visual and cognitive pattern of problem-solving see Kopperschmidt : 32, 45, 59f.

The claims are dealt with from different perspectives. Thus, a discourse involves multiple perspectives. Discourse undergoes historical change relating to social change. Historical change deserves special attention in the DHA. In order to approach various discursive features and strategies, discourse-historical analyses systematically go through five simple questions: These questions are analytically answered by qualitative research on a variety of data genres , and partly also by corpus-based quantitative research.

Table 3. The intertextual and interdiscursive relationship between utterances, texts, genres and discourses e. Social factors and institutional frames of a specific context of situation include: degree of formality, place, time, occasion, addressees, interactive and political roles, political and ideological orientation, gender, age, profession, level of education, ethnic, regional, national, religious identities, etc. On a meso- and macro-level, the broader sociopolitical and historical context is integrated into the analysis.

At this point, fields of action and the history of the discursive event as well as of discourse topics are looked at. Three ways of doing a discourse-historical analysis can be distinguished: A discourse fragment or utterance is taken as a starting point, and its prehistory is reconstructed by relating the present to the past. This way, specific discourse elements can be related to each within a particular period of the past, e.

A third way consists in the critical analysis of how different social actors, e. When analysing the historical dimension of discourses, we are faced with two challenges: Time-relatedness of the internal perspective and the perspective of discourse analysts: In order to do justice to the historical situatedness of discourses, discourse analysts should try to understand the perspectives of the historical discourse participants.

On the other hand, every discourse-historical analysis is itself time-related, connected to the perspective of a present. This tension can adequately be dealt with, if we keep in mind that our discourse-historical analysis is not just an analysis of the past, but also of the present. Discrepancies between asserted and lived continuities or discontinuities: On the one hand, a discourse-historical analysis has sometimes to focus on the discrepancy between the assertion of a continuity and factual discontinuities in the area of the res gestae.

Such a discrepancy can be detected in national rhetorics, where historical breaks are tropologically done away by temporal synecdoches for reasons of positive national self-presentation. To give an example: In some Austrian commemorative speeches from , there is talk of a year-existence of the Austrian Republic, although this republic did not exist between and see Reisigl On the other hand, a discourse-historical analysis may focus on the discrepancy between the assertion of a discontinuity and the factual continuity until present times.

Here, we may think of the echo of fascism and National Socialism after , or of the proximity of right-wing populism and right-wing extremism. This sequence can be summarised as follows: activation and consultation of preceding theoretical knowledge, i. Wodak, R. The discursive construction of national identity, 2nd rev. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Reisigl, M. Discourse and discrimination: Rhetorics of racism and antisemitism.

London: Routledge. Analyzing political rhetoric. Wodak and M. London: Palgrave. The discourse-historical approach. Meyer eds. Bischof, G. Neutrality in Austria: Contemporary Austrian studies. New Brunswick, London: Transaction Publishers. Burkhardt, A. Politolinguistik: Versuch einer Ortsbestimmung. Klein and H. Diekmannshenke eds. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter. Cillia, R. Innsbruck: Studienverlag. Copsey, N. Cultures of post-war British fascism. London, New York: Routledge. Delanty, G. Identity, belonging and migration. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Forchtner, B. Critique, the discourse-historical approach and the Frankfurt School. Critical Discourse Studies 8 1 : 1— Heinrich and K-D. Kaiser eds. Foucault, M. Was Ist Kritik? Berlin: Merve. Galasinska, A. Discourse and transformation in central and eastern Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Heer, H. Wie Geschichte gemacht wird. Vienna: Czernin. Januschek, F. Kargl, M. Kreatives Formulieren: Anleitungen zu geschlechtergerechtem Sprachgebrauch.

Koller, V. Lesbian discourses: Images of a community. Analysing collective identity in discourse: social actors and contexts. Kopperschmidt, J. Hamburg: Junius. The discursive construction of European identities: A multi-level approach to discourse and identity in the transforming European Union. Frankfurt am Main: Lang. Ethnography and critical discourse analysis: Towards a problem-oriented research dialogue.

Critical Discourse Studies 8 4 : — Journal of Language and Politics 14 1 : — Un doing Europe: Discourses and practices of negotiating the EU constitution. Brussels: Lang. The politics of exclusion: Debating migration in Austria. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. Vetter and H.

Lalouschek, J. Lutz, B. Matouschek, B. Genese und Formen von rassistischen Diskursen der Differenz. Vienna: Passagen. Menz, F. Muntigl, P. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Oberhuber, F. Journal of Language and Politics 4 2 : — The dynamics of right-wing populist argumentation in Austria. Image credit: Chris Cheung Ping Foo , via flickr. On our rendering, social epistemology stands as an intellectual community, if not a discipline, not only for redressing fundamental philosophical problems pertaining to knowledge, science, truth, belief, normativity and judgment, but also for imagining and creating a shared future by forwarding ideas regarding humanity, technology, embodiment, morality and governance.

We hope the posts to this forum demonstrate a vital, growing social practice that takes at issue nothing less than the possibilities and consequences for collective knowing and acting. Why Do Critical Science Studies? W hat does a critical study of science, otherwise known as critical science studies, mean, exactly? This is still an answer begging question I had wrestled with for three years, since my dissertation-writing days, in trying to position the work I am doing: a comparative, and humanistically inflected, interrogation of scientific epistemics, as well as its methods and values.

At the same time, one may asks as to whether the humanities, apart from philosophy or perhaps even the technical histories of science, could have any valuable contribution to the construction of scientific knowledge. Perhaps in the world of workaday science, the answer is: none whatsoever; in this case, even philosophy would be too esoteric and insignificant. But, what if the science viewed here is not about experimental setups, instrumental calibrations, or computation of select phenomena. What if it is about how the most foundational epistemics in science can be read against society, and in the process of that interaction, certain transformations, particularly of ontological perceptions, could affect our theorization of the science?

Humanities most valuable contribution is at the level of critique, or creative vision, rather than in the maintenance of the mundane. Maybe the impact on workaday science is still negligible, but the framing of that scientific paradigm, and even how we locate our scientific beliefs, could do with some expansion. The collective vision page is perhaps a good space to think aloud this question, especially since it would be part of overlapping conversations already addressed, or are in the process of being addressed, by the other authors, in both Part I and Part II.

Having first entered the field of science studies through literature and science I a science geek in a past life, and a science geek to this day , although I have ventured quite far from the fold. I have also encountered an array of attempts at interdisciplinarity in the humanities and the sciences or maybe, some might prefer to use the phrase, the arts and sciences , so much so that one may need to maintain a glossary of list just to keep track. One sees that even in conferences purporting to be address interdisciplinary themes.

Therefore, conventional science studies, which I put in opposition to my proposal of critical science studies, exists as a rubric of multidisciplinary silos that occasionally cross paths, and may engage in some timid collaboration, but with rare exceptions, transformative conceptualization is missing. In fact, the continuous debates about realism, constructivism, anti-realism, nominalism, are among some of the outcomes of that reluctance to bring trandisciplinary engagement to full-term what the transdisciplinary can look like, in this case , though there is a serious effort to that end in a recent Sept-Nov , vol 32, issue of Theory, Culture, and Society called Transdisciplinary Problematics , in science and technology studies, producing its own form of collective vision that can be coherent but not homogenous.

However, the critical science studies proposed here is about going back to the foundation of how we think about scientific knowledge that is external to its institutional legitimation. The question of authority percolates through the interaction between a citizen scientist and professional scientist, but is the professional scientist the only true authority in providing the benchmark for scientific knowledge production, or can an experienced and well-trained even if largely self-taught citizen scientist, who might want to propose an alternative to available methods, be still considered an expert agent?

What critical science studies offers, in the bridge between foundational concerns and socially infused paradigm, is a connection to foresight studies. Foresight studies have always been an interdisciplinary in nature, even if it has taken off more quickly in the fields of business, finance, and management studies. However, foresight studies has garnered increasing interests from technologist in the past five years, or more, and there are attempts to interface the pragmatic problem-solving predisposition of technology though this is by no means any attempt at reducing the complex contribution and discourse on technology with the more ambitious, yet cautious, goals of science.

Even the citizen scientist has some contribution to foresight, through the availability of maker and hacker spaces, though some of these spaces had always existed as techno subcultures before they were mainstreamed. Perhaps this is where we can develop the discourse of critical science studies, such as in aligning the practices of prediction and informed speculation in science to the still developing methodological practices of foresight.

The conflation of techno and science appears to be an act of abstruse nominalism of a Platonic variety that provides too easy an escape from the difficult question of ontological differences, including the shades of differences. The question of what is science and what is technology outside what postcolonial theorists consider as Eurocentric exceptionalism requires science studies scholars to look inwards and outwards when confronted by a mixture of pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial legacies that signal multiple points of ruptures, disruptions, and what Fuller himself had characterized as inscrutable silences — except that it is much more than inscrutability but rather, a silence born of disenfranchisment, a disenfranchisement that grows with the incursion of modern globality that masks historical amnesia.

Obviously, any form of Whiggish scientific program, or even history, creates tension not merely at an intellectual scale, but at the level of realpolitik , such as what one would find in the science and math education of many postcolonial countries, and the struggle for language hegemony when it comes to the medium of instruction. That said, what can critical science studies contribute, in terms of a critical framework, to addressing the question of science and technology within the context of subjugated knowledge, where scientific programs regularly confuse the scientific with the technological due to the abrupt manner in which these newly independent states became participants in the modernization process, after decades, and even centuries for some, of limited to non-existent self-determination.

The problem of demarcation remains unresolved, or maybe one that will always be enthymematic for as long as the master-slave narrative persists, and discourse on transnational knowledge production tend towards exceptionalism in terms of the tendency to over-localized knowledge production as a negative reaction to what is perceived as a drive to universalism rather than empathetic dialog. I do not see it as a problem for critical science studies to begin at the level of textual confrontation, with the meaning of textuality here broadly construed to represent the medium or systems upon which concepts, knowledge, and belief-systems of any communities can be embedded.

Further, even if we were to narrow the meaning of textuality to represent actual publications, notebooks, reports, hard-drives, and spaces of scientific observation within the current conventions of scientific practice , it merely means that we are examining scientific interactions, or what we demarcate as scientific interactions, within a prescribed spatio-temporal bound.

What is needed is to develop critical science studies as a field infused with a transdisciplinary identity that transcends the idioms of philosophy, sociology, or history of science, while being aware of its epistemic debt to these fields. The main question: how many forms of realism can data represent, is data always already pluralistic in nature, and how does one separate the ontological from the socio-epistemological representations and is such a separation absolutely necessary? Perhaps a datalogical approach to science studies, [1] which is not the same as an empirical approach to the sociology of knowledge thrives on tangible evidence-based epistemology, can shed some light on the question since such an approach will always be facing a contestation between logical-positivism and social turns.

The datalogical turn can be construed as an attempt at a more direct access to ontology. Data can be ideologically or non-ideologically specific, constituting the networks of potential information and knowledge that are already out there, waiting to be excavated and systematized. Datalogics could potentially generate some semblance of consensus between realism and constructivism through a holistic rather than piece-meal advocacy of sociology of knowledge.

And datalogics can align social epistemology with the ontic, and provide another methodology for transdisciplinary intervention. Nevertheless, the practice of datalogics, through a hybrid of logics and the social, has potential in bringing together preoccupations that are seemingly divergent, by stripping away superficial differences and focusing on foundational questions, including the tools that are available, or not, for working out those questions.

It is through this datalogical turn that critical science studies is required to confront its relationship to technology, to technicity. Anderson, Warwick. Postcolonial Studies 12, no.

Expanding the knowledge translation metaphor

Fuller, Steve. Social Epistemology. Stiegler Bernard. Technics and Time, 1: the Fault of Epimetheus. There was actually a presentation by a group of sociologists at CUNY on this topic that I am not drawing from, but which offers some useful arguments for considering the social position of data. More than that, I think our greatest achievements, and our most difficult work, still lies ahead of us. The roots of this difficult task are in the institutional context in which many Reply Collective contributors work for their paychecks: the university system. I am not one of these people, and I think many other Collective members will face the tough choice and attendant hardships that I did over the last few years.

People have always made these kinds of career changes. But the pace appears to be picking up speed as the university system changes. The combination of administrative bloat, faculty austerity, and labour over-production means that most university teachers today have merely adjunct status.

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Yet they are expected to work full time, and contribute to research in addition. Even researchers at prestigious universities are losing their research capacities and even their jobs as government funding for pure research dries up and the post-secondary sector relies increasingly on private industry partnerships that are hostile to critical work or research that cannot be immediately monetized. In such a terrifying climate, organizations like the Reply Collective are more important than ever. They must be the new home of creative research and writing now that universities are making themselves incapable of progress.

When I was a doctoral student in a philosophy department, colleagues and professors had a particular way of discussing teachers and grad students who started working in the business or non-profit world instead of the university sector. Their presumption is that no longer working as a university teacher meant that you were no longer involved in philosophy, or any of the research disciplines where you had trained and worked in the university sector.

Scholarship is a vocation that can only be sustained in university infrastructures, a largely library-bound career as an interpreter of great texts for an audience of other professional scholars. Instead, I write to be read. Although my writing career still has a long way to go, I write to be read by a popular audience. It means being free to experiment with genre and style to find new ways to engage professional knowledge disciplines with the broader public and public concerns.

These are just examples of possible progressive directions. New and sometimes weird approaches to book reviews. The Reply Collective offers opportunities for multiple-author reviews, and experiments with form come from dividing the writing labour in different ways. My solo reviews have sometimes gotten more experimental, with mixed results. Applying conceptual creativity and exploration more typically associated with boundary-pushing philosophical works to blogging and journalism.

One major advantage that I bring to my clients is my ability to synthesize and probe ideas and real-world developments for implications that remain invisible to people whose only training is in business. Operating without the lifelong presumptions of the business world lets me see through the buzzwords and trends that too many of my colleagues and competitors, happily for me chase without forethought. At our best, humanity handles crisis through creativity and regeneration. The university as an institution once offered a secure home where research specialists could produce and disseminate knowledge to progress and improve the human situation materially, technologically, maybe even morally and spiritually.

It is all too easy to think of this demographic of surplus professional university research and teaching labour as a Lost Generation, whose lack of institutional support will see their talent wasted. I refuse such pessimism because it is pessimism and resignation. Instead of a Lost Generation, we can be a Renegade Generation, creating new flexible and decentralized institutions to create and spread critical knowledge that will not be vulnerable to the temptations of corruption and compromise with values of greed and callousness in the name of hyper-efficiency that defines too much of our modern world in business and education.

S ome years ago I got a package of pain relieving patches from my American relative. They were produced in China and then sold in the United States. On the packaging there were instructions for use, but they were not printed directly on the box. Instead, you could find instructions printed on a sticker covering some information underneath.

The instructions were not informative, just advising to put a patch on a painful spot. Being curious and somewhat destructive by nature I started to peel off the sticker just to find another set of instructions hidden beneath it. Although written in English, they were incomprehensible to me. The instructions referred to basic elements, such as water and fire, balance of yin and yang, and advising the user to calculate the position of the patch in accordance with the state of these elements in his body, or something very similar please bear in mind that this happened years ago and I had not understood a thing.


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This was puzzling, interesting, and thought provoking. If we were to judge them by accuracy, it looks that the hidden one is the one to pick, but if we judge by usefulness then the chosen one, the one on the sticker, is the winner. On the other hand, are any of them really successful? Have any of them conveyed the right information to the reader? In the end what do we do in this, or similar cases, as translators? What we are witnessing here is the process of decision making in the practice of translation.

It was decided that there is just too many assumptions in the original text that are not familiar to the intended reader, that they should be eliminated altogether, and that the theoretical frame known to the reader should be used instead. This process of decision-making, which occurs in translation practice, leads us directly to the question of how we understand knowledge, and how knowledge is transferred across cultures.

The problem of translation in the given case arose from the fact that two texts spoke to different audiences belonging to different cultures, having different knowledge backgrounds, and the information they conveyed assumed different medical theories common in these two cultures. Even if it seems that the particular terms could have been accurately translated, as it was attempted in the original translation, the meaning of sentences depended on the broader context not known by both audiences.

But it is misleading to think that there is an accurate translation, even of the particular terms, like the one provided beneath the sticker, and then that there is an extra theory belonging to a particular culture which explains it, rather the theory is already presupposed in the language itself. So, the problem of translation arises from the fact that languages themselves differ, just like cultures do, in the end languages are a kind of cultural artifacts.

They conceptualise natural phenomena in disparate ways, they create their own categories, and code various different information using particular grammars that exclude one to one correspondence of meanings. And the process of translation brings these differences to the fore. Of course, the given example is an extreme one, and rarely we come across such vast differences in cross-cultural meanings, and decisions that the original text should be abandoned and replaced with the one with the same aim but separate meaning.

But, on the other hand it points out clearly that mapping of terms by their meanings model of translation cannot be universally applicable. In literature this phenomenon is known as the paradox of translation. If we take as an assumption that the translation rests on the principle of equivalence, equivalence of meaning expressed in two or more languages, and that nothing should be lost in the translation if done properly, it seems that any project of translation is an impossible feat, because there are unequivalent or untranslatable parts of one language into another.

Transitivity and symmetry of meaning between languages easily breaks when we start to translate, and the original meaning can quickly get lost. This is why translation is always also an interpretation led by other criteria than equivalence, and our goal is to examine its implicit goals. The problem of translation, or its paradox, brings many questions that are worthy of theoretical pursuit.

Social constructionism

How and do languages alter our cognitive abilities? What are meanings and how are they constituted? Can languages be reduced to a language which is not theory laden? Can we ever properly understand things said in another language? What is the role of charity and rationality in translation, or the role of community and culture in language use? There are also various attempts to answer these questions in cognitive science, philosophy, anthropology, and linguistics, and additional projects trying to resolve these issues.

Language was reconceived as a part of extended cognitive processes involving material linguistic symbols as their constituents, holistic theories of meaning were elaborated, positivists attempted to reconstruct a universal language of science, we were introduced to Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity, and so forth. But what is of our immediate interest now is how these insights bear on social dimensions of knowledge, and how decision making in translation practice influences cross-cultural transfer of knowledge.

There are at least two broad areas to be explored: 1 In what ways do particular languages influence knowledge formation, or is there language specific knowledge? Both areas branch in many directions as soon as we start to tackle them. This claim certainly deserves more than a brief remark, but here we can only treat it in a laconic fashion. Propositions are often envisioned as mind and language independent entities, which can be expressed in different languages.

This presupposes that if think about propositions as, for instance, Russelian propositions, there are entities that are independent of particular language categorisation. This pushes us further to postulate something like Russell did, that we can properly refer only to what we are acquainted with, in other words, to endorse some kind of foundationalism about knowledge and some idea about the reduction of natural language into a language of what is immediately present to us, which again presupposes a theory about what is basic or fundamental.

But our project is not a project of reduction and re-translation, we want to see what happens in actual cases of translations and actual knowledge transfers, where we deal with natural languages which postulate complex entities and specific frames of reference, and where we do not have anything like language independent propositions. Real, every day cases of translations do not translate texts into ideal languages, but to other natural languages.

We want to think of knowledge, information, and the ways that we think about reality as language dependent, and deeply influenced by it. But, furthermore, languages often regularly grammatically code different pieces of information, which occur in almost every of its sentence, and use different frames of reference, like the ones for spatial relations or for color spaces.

Turkish codes evidentiality using suffixes; namely, the form of the verb in Turkish suggests if information communicated is attained directly or indirectly, Estonian has fourteen noun cases most of them being a form of locative, and then there are languages that have different space frames of reference. It is interesting to ponder how these language constraints influenced construction of theories and what is considered as knowledge. Would Leibniz have ever thought of the thesis of space relativity, or of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles if he had used a language with an absolute frame of reference.

To speakers of such languages differences between differently oriented objects are obvious and they are perceived as different objects instantly. What we find as a new piece of knowledge, or as a worthy piece of information, may be heavily influenced by the language we use. This brings us to the question of decision making, which can become a question which part of community decides, or has been deciding, on what is going to be translated and with what criteria in mind, and at last, how do we decide in the process of translating what parts of information are meaningful and valuable to us.

These are the starting points of the project exploring how did the problem of translation, cross-cultural linguistic differences, and normal practice of translation influenced transfer of knowledge throughout history, with an aim to elucidate implicit assumptions used in this process and possibilities of shared cross-cultural knowledge. A Post-Humanist Paradox? T he recent film Ex Machina draws attention to a seemingly paradoxical conjunction of claims that numerous trans and post-humanist authors endorse.

One of the main characters, Nathan, the creator of sentient cyborgs, echoes Ray Kurzweil and others when he asserts both that,. The worries about technological determinists assumptions in post and transhumanist thought are arguably just as serious if future autonomous military drones are a risk to incite serious political conflict. The purpose of this post is simply to stir some discussion on a topic that may be of interest to proponents and critics of trans and posthumanism alike. Perhaps it could lead to distinguishing what supporters of Humanity 2. To facilitate, let me now present two syllogisms with premises that readers might like to challenge or to comment on.

Perhaps both arguments are woefully unsound, or perhaps they could be rendered sound with suggestions to the language used. But I hope to spur dialogue over tensions between different views on the relationship between technology and society, including especially that to which Humanity 2. Here we can mention just three:. Machin zu. T he changing climate has attracted attention from numerous fields and disciplines. Part of its intrigue lies in the impossibility of boxing it into one area of knowledge and treating it with conventional methods. The entangled complex of issues that comprises climate change has disrupted and to some extent transfigured traditional linear conceptions of the connection between science and society.

Queries regarding what expertise consists of, how it is communicated and the ways in which it might be incorporated into democratic processes have found no easy answers. What these questions have done is to undermine the simplistic assumption that scientists can straightforwardly impart instructions regarding not only what should be done, but also regarding what can be done to mitigate and alleviate massive environmental upheaval.

Does climate change tell us that we simply need more knowledge that is higher quality and better communicated? Does climate science demand the proliferation of data upon which knowledge can be gleaned? Then does climate change rather reveal the utter impossibility of knowledge? Is humanity doomed to a choice between skepticism and ignorance? For sure, climate change has repeatedly revealed the uncertainty subsisting in the predictions of the future for a complex system, in which multiple elements — atmospheric particles, ice sheets, jet streams, human individuals, socio-political collectivities — interact in patterns that have no past precedence.

And yet, it does not mean that we know nothing at all. It might well be difficult to accurately predict, for example, the potential rise in sea levels. Highlighting this lack of certainty, which will likely remain however much data is produced, exposes the boundaries of knowledge. And yet this does not mean the research is invalid or unhelpful; attending to the possibility of rising sea levels draws attention to the damage this would inflict.

It highlights the dependence of societies upon their environmental conditions and the extent of their ability to master or adjust to them. It exposes the uneven distribution of both damage and the capacity to respond to damage. Climate science, as is the case with any science that deals with complex systems and wicked problems, may not be able to accurately forecast the future but it can influence our political priorities and social values. It is equally important to notice that this relation works the other way too.

Political priorities and social values affect and frame the type of knowledge that is generated by scientists. This is clear from the extent to which climate change has moved from a marginal concern to a mainstream interest. Climate change, then, reveals that what we know is socially contingent and politically conditioned.

Wittgenstein offers a useful account here. There is some common ground that is placed beyond doubt. No: it is the inherited background against which I distinguish between true and false. The inherited background upon which we build our knowledge, and against which its rationality can be accessed, can be called the current social climate. Such a climate can be transformed.

Thus, the meaning or weight of an expert opinion depends upon the particular social climate in which it is conveyed. Opening up such a system can force unjustifiable assumptions and traditions out of their shadowy subsistence, and enliven bodies and disciplines of knowledge. This is why the generation of new knowledge and the advancement of scientific research is not at all in competition with democratic processes but is rather complemented by them. The democratic ethos of openness, as expressed by William Connolly serves both science and politics. For such an ethos allows the contestation of the status quo, the challenge to the social conventions that constitute the bedrock of society, the enrichment of both the prevailing climate of knowledge and the knowledge of climate.

The aim and presupposition of consensus and certainty on the issue of climate change is therefore highly problematic. Rather, what this issue reveals is the importance of opening up the possibilities for the reinvention of policy and the renewal of knowledge. We should attend to what we know about climate. Feyerabend, Paul. Cambridge University Press, Reider, Patrick J. A fter struggling with several attempts to write a vision statement, I decided a confessional tack might help me to communicate a bit better what my thoughts are about social epistemology.

I am a philosopher an apprentice one at that rather than a social scientist. The whole notion of akrasia and overcoming it towards some kind of eudaimonia well-being implies that there has to be some kind of on-going practical exercise that develops the kinds of habits that make you a more capable person. So what that seems to suggest to me is that a proper understanding of agency requires starts with an honest working out of a philosophical anthropology that can explain these failures of self-control.

One place to look at how this plays out is in Stoic therapy. But to understand why the Stoics viewed apatheia as a desirable state of being, you have to dig a bit deeper and excavate their philosophical anthropology and view of nature. First, the Stoics refer understand the human mind to be a unity, contrary to Plato and Galen who maintained a tripartite conception of the soul. Stoic mind—the hegemonikon —is composed of a set of cognitive judgments, which means that, for the Stoics the passions are reducible to judgements with a propositional form. Second, the Stoics regard the passions as irrational because of their view that the cosmos is providentially ordered by a rational logos.

Passions are irrational because they follow from judgements we make from the standpoint of animal parts with in nature. Passions have no place in a rational human being because they express judgements that are invested in an account that is contrary to fate Sellars But the issue with Stoic therapy is that, while it acknowledges that the life condition of the Stoic sage is something difficult to achieve, it nonetheless relies on the possibility that from the outset we have at least some kind of power outside of our animal nature that allows us to assent or dissent to the unfolding of fate.

That one small assumption then suggests that Stoic therapy, while difficult, is within the power of the individual to eventually achieve over time. We tend to call this self-help nowadays. It also seems problematic that such assent can occur without some emotional motivation and in general the Stoics devalue passions as resources in our motivation and a source of well-being. The sources of modern libertarian individualism in the history of philosophy can be traced back to the kind of opposition of reason and passion found in the ancient world, a view that has downplayed the importance of relationships and community in human life, and a view that has also functioned to marginalize the place of women in philosophy Lloyd But more important here is that the Stoics appear to fail by their own standards; that is, there is some part of human nature that exists outside of the cosmos as a whole, a power that is capable of intervening and modifying our animal dispositions.

With Descartes, you find a similar view to that of the Stoics. Descartes is often attributed the kind of libertarian individualism that informs neo-liberal economics and ideology, which is a little unfair to Descartes but potentially how he has been received. If one consults Passions of the Soul , one will find a view where the body becomes the locus of habit formation. Descartes views the body as a complex machine, one that communicates sensory information to the brain via animal spirits running through the nerves. Without the intervention of mind, the body is an automaton, reacting instinctively and habitually to environmental stimulus.


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The passions of the soul are the impressions received by the nervous activity of the body communicated via the pineal gland. As well as having this degree of freedom over its received impressions, Descartes also believed that mind had the power to influence the habitual tendencies of the brain, eventually retraining these responses over time like a dog-owner retrains their canine friend Lloyd and Gatens As with the Stoics, but perhaps more so, we find Descartes relying on a notion of a mind outside of nature capable of imposing its will on the natural order of things from without.

Spinoza can in some ways be thought of in some ways a critic of the idea that human beings have some pre-given power of a relatively free mind capable of imposing itself on the body and its emotions. Overcoming the illusions of free will, our tendency to overestimate our own power, requires first of all understanding the laws that govern our pre-reflective imaginations. By developing social attachments with each other, we are able to form new affects that can restrain the sad passions that disable us, and foster joyful passions that enable us, in pursuit of our own personal ends Lefebvre ; Armstrong In short, we enlist the help and support of others to help ourselves.

But in order to be even to get to the point where we are capable of thinking well-enough to undertake an effort towards better understanding our own cognition, a whole range of social relations need to be in place for such a project to be even possible. Susan James has written on the subject of Spinoza and social epistemology, asserting that the whole project of personal knowledge depends upon access to education and an induction into a community of inquiry James For this reason, Spinoza offers a promising starting point for working out a philosophical anthropology, one that is both at in accord with a psychological conception of the human and a sociological one.

Ironically, by insisting on a more naturalistic re-embedding of the human in nature in a nature that rejects divine providence, the notion that we have to live according to our own human nature remains the only option we are left with. By attempting to take a non-anthropocentric view of ourselves, one which science enables, we may gain a more accurate and powerful understanding of who we actually are and how we might work that to our advantage. The point here need not be regressively anti-humanist but rather, I take it to suggest that we have to get real about human nature before we can properly explore our possibilities.

But knowing does not automatically equate to doing and it will probably be the case that if we are to derive any benefit from our understanding, we will need to embrace that we are at a pre-reflective level less than rational.


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For that reason, we might need prosthetic aids embedded in our environment, social institutions, rituals, myths, aesthetics, to activate our potential in empowering ways. The kind of view of mind on offer here is one that can serve well as an explanation as to why we need a social epistemology, but it may also serve as a useful philosophical tool for assessing the credibility of more macro-level social theories.

Of course, the macro- may behave according to its own rules and no doubt it will also impinge upon and shape the personal. But looking for a philosophical anthropology through the lens of a therapy may give us clues about how the social shapes us since it looks at the conditions of possibility for shaping ourselves.

Ansell-Pearson, Keith. Armstrong, Aurelia. Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Vol. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Pantheon, Gatens, Moira, and Genevieve Lloyd. Collective Imaginings: Spinoza, Past and Present. London: Routledge, Hadot, Pierre. Melbourne: Blackwell, James, Susan. Lefebvre, Alexandre. Lloyd, Genevieve. McCauley, Robert N. Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not. New York: Oxford University Press, Sellars, John.

Stoicism Ancient Philosophies. Berkeley: University of California Press, Ure, Michael. West, Mark. A ccording to my vision, setting policy is both a practical and theoretical task of social epistemology. There are direct and indirect ways to understand this idea.

As a normative discipline, social epistemology influences the process of doing science on methodological, axiological and organizational levels and, in this way, contributes to decision-making about what to accept as well-grounded knowledge and how to optimize the process of knowledge production. However, not only professionally trained epistemologists can fulfill such a job. Scientists and administrators often perform this effort on their own. Still, better outcomes can be produced if done in communication and collaboration with those who specialize in a subject.

See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Overview This book opens up a new route to the study of knowledge dynamics and the sociology of knowledge. Product Details Table of Contents. Table of Contents Metaphors and the dynamics of knowledge: preliminary thoughts.