Essays on the Anthropology of Reason

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Overview

This collection of essays explains and encourages new reflection on Paul Rabinow's pioneering project to anthropologize the West. His goal is to exoticize the Western constitution of reality, emphasize those domains most taken for granted as universal, and show how their claims to truth are linked to particular social practices, hence becoming effective social forces. He has recently begun to focus on the core of Western rationality, in particular the practices of molecular biology as they apply to our understanding of human nature. This book moves in new directions by posing questions about how scientific practice can be understood in terms of ethics as well as in terms of power.

The topics include how French socialist urban planning in the 1930s engineered the transition from city planning to life planning; how the discursive and nondiscursive practices of the Human Genome Project and biotechnology have refigured life, labor, and language; and how a debate over patenting cell lines and over the dignity of life required secular courts to invoke medieval notions of the sacred. Building on an ethnographic study of the invention of the polymerase chain reaction—which enables the rapid production of specific sequences of DNA in millions of copies Rabinow, in the final essay, reflects in dialogue with biochemist Tom White on the place of science in modernity, on science as a vocation, and on the differences between the human and natural sciences.

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Editorial Reviews

The Times Higher Education Supplement - Jon Turney
Rabinow has produced a rich and elegantly written set of reflections for those who want to study a culture in the making, or are part of one. It is, of course, part of his argument that they include all of us.
From the Publisher
"Rabinow has produced a rich and elegantly written set of reflections for those who want to study a culture in the making, or are part of one. It is, of course, part of his argument that they include all of us."—Jon Turney, The Times Higher Education Supplement
The Times Higher Education Supplement
Rabinow has produced a rich and elegantly written set of reflections for those who want to study a culture in the making, or are part of one. It is, of course, part of his argument that they include all of us.
— Jon Turney
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 Science as a Practice: Ethos, Logos, Pathos 3
Ch. 2 Representations Are Social Facts: Modernity and Post-Modernity in Anthropology 28
Ch. 3 On the Archaeology of Late Modernity 59
Ch. 4 Georges Canguilhem: A Vital Rationalist 80
Ch. 5 Artificiality and Enlightenment: From Sociobiology to Biosociality 91
Ch. 6 Galton's Regret: Of Types and Individuals 112
Ch. 7 Severing the Ties: Fragmentation and Dignity in Late Modernity 129
Ch. 8 Steps toward a Third Culture 153
Ch. 9 American Moderns: On Sciences and Scientists 162
Index 189
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