Narrative Experiments

Narrative Experiments: The Discursive Authority of Science and Technology

Gayle L. Ormiston
Raphael Sassower
Copyright Date: 1989
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 168
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttwj7
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  • Book Info
    Narrative Experiments
    Book Description:

    In Narrative Experiments, Gayle Ormiston and Ralph Sassower bring a refreshing perspective to the domains of inquiry we call “science” and “technology,” asserting that traditional definitions (like classical idealism and materialism) fail to suggest the rich and complex cultural/linguistic interplay occurring between them. This context is not merely a background, nor is Ormiston and Sassower’s just one more interdisciplinary approach to the subject. Instead, their book argues, science, technology, and the humanities developed in concert with one another, and their reciprocity obliterates all traditional disciplinary boundaries. Ormiston and Sassower build their case by devoting a chapter to each of the four themes emerging from the etymological introduction. First, they look at the role fiction and other literary modes play in developing our attitudes toward science and technology -- how the visions of Bacon, Hobbes, Galileo, Rousseau, Mary Shelley, and Orwell evoke both anxiety and hope. Next, they examine a series of eighteenth-century “fictions” -- the Enlightenment texts of Kant, Rousseau, and Hume -- and the elevated (but ambiguous) status science and technology associated with them. The last two chapters evaluate modes of discursive authority and its dissemination -- classical and modern extra-linguistic approaches; the contemporary-linguistic view espoused by Rorty, Quine, and others; and their own avowedly experimental journey through the labyrinths of cultural and linguistic usage.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5581-6
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. CHAPTER 1 THE INTERPLAY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: An Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    The exploration of what is called ″science, technology, and society″ assumes an interlacing of the multiple cultural and linguistic dimensions of contemporary life.¹ That is to say, the examination of the interplay of science, technology, and society presumes thatall inquirypresupposes and unfolds within a cultural context that always determines and is already determined by social relationships. The techniques and strategies of inquiry, themethodsused to identify so-called ″significant″ problems or questions facing a particular group or generation of individuals, are conditioned and rendered possible by the current historical, material, and intellectual culture.

    Even though the field of...

  5. CHAPTER 2 FICTIONAL VISIONS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
    (pp. 19-52)

    Two interrelated claims have been advanced regarding the interplay of science and technology.

    (1) Theactivitiesincorporated under the headings ofscienceandtechnologypresuppose and unfold within a broad cultural/linguistic matrix.

    (2) Themeaningof the termsscienceandtechnology, and thus, by analogy, thesignificanceattached to the set of activities designated by these terms, is determined by theirusewithin a broad cultural/linguistic matrix.

    These claims were advanced in a discussion primarily concerned with the etymology of the termsscienceandtechnology. The appeal to the Greek and Latin roots of these terms showed howusecreates...

  6. CHAPTER 3 LEGACIES, LEGENDS, AND ENLIGHTENMENTS: The Pretext of Critique
    (pp. 53-88)

    Negotiating the intricate assembly of any labyrinth (or text) requires dismantling and abandoning, or at the very least suspending, certain classical categories and binary oppositions. But such a dismantling or suspension of concepts is possible only as a reinscription of those concepts, or as a reinterpretation of the text. The textual interpretations of Bacon, Hobbes, Galileo, Rousseau, Shelley, and Orwell, offered in the preceding chapter, demonstrate how the play of certain categories, e.g., objective/subjective, true/false, real/fictional, literal/figurative, and inside/outside, constitutes, in each case, a labyrinth of textual conditions that prefigures a certain vision or account of science and technology. Moreover,...

  7. CHAPTER 4 THE DISSEMINATION OF AUTHORITY
    (pp. 89-114)

    Thus far, the texts and themes examined have been used to achieve a particular focus: to explore the roles language plays in determining and situating science and technology within particular cultural matrices. A central aim is to unravel an already articulated theme: use creates. That is to say, the use, the deployment, or the active interpretation of a text fabricates the conditions for understanding that text and any meaning—or authority—attributed to it. What should be understood at this point is the radically tentative character of this or any focus. By converging upon the process (and the effects) of...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. CHAPTER 5 CONSEQUENCES OF DISSEMINATION: Narrative Recollections and the Languages of Pedagogy
    (pp. 115-138)

    All narratives, whether they are cast as ″philosophical″ inquiries, ″scientific″ treatises, or ″literary″ texts, are inextricably bound to a labyrinth of interpretations, that is a web of other fictions, other narratives. Informed by another set of concerns, or what might be thought of as another ″Philosophical tradition,″ Richard Rorty recognizes this intractable condition by commenting on what he identifies as the ″post-Philosophical culture.″¹ According to Rorty, the condition that marks narrative accounts presents what he calls ″a bedrock metaphilosophical issue.″ Rorty asks if one can ″ever appeal to nonlinguistic knowledge in philosophical argument?″² Another way of posing this question is...

  10. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 141-146)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 149-155)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 156-156)