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Science as Social Existence

Jeff Kochan

Chapter Seven. Conclusion: Subjects, Systems, and Other Unfinished Business

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1Heidegger delivered his lectures on Galileo, Newton, and mathēsis during the winter semester of 1935–1936. In the autumn of 1935, just before, or just as, this lecture course was getting started, Heidegger also hosted, over the course of several days, a discussion by two distinguished German scientists: the physiologist and physician Viktor von Weizsäcker, and the physicist Werner Heisenberg. The discussion took place in Heidegger’s small cabin, perched on the slope of a meadow above the Black Forest village of Todtnauberg. Also present, among others, was Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, a nephew of the older von Weizsäcker and a student of both Heisenberg and Niels Bohr. The younger von Weizsäcker would later become a distinguished nuclear physicist in his own right. The meeting in Todtnauberg marked the beginning of the younger von Weizsäcker’s long friendship with Heidegger, one which lasted until Heidegger’s death in 1976.

  • 1 Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1977a), ‘Begegnungen in vier Jahrzehnten,’ in Erinnerung an Martin (...)

2According to von Weizsäcker’s later recollection, the participants of the meeting crowded around the narrow table in Heidegger’s tiny living room, with Heidegger seated at the table head, Viktor von Weizsäcker and Heisenberg on either side of him, and Carl von Weizsäcker at the foot, facing Heidegger.1 The two scientists spoke at length with one another, ‘each interested in the other, but, in fact, separated by a chasm.’ Heisenberg was deeply preoccupied with the ‘abyss opened by the unsought after discovery of the inseparability of subject and object in quantum theory,’ but he felt one could not live in this abyss. He insisted on ‘a precise explanation of the role of the subject as observer, as experimenter.’ Viktor von Weizsäcker, in contrast, wanted just as badly to see the subject as a ‘living object’: ‘He did not view the objective observer of quantum theory as a subject at all.’ When the two scientists had anchored themselves deep in mutual misunderstanding, Heidegger intervened.

‘You, Mr. von Weizsäcker, seem to mean the following.’ Three crystal clear sentences. ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted to say.’ ‘And you, Mr. Heisenberg, probably mean this.’ Three sentences of the same kind, and the answer: ‘Yes, that’s how I picture it.’ ‘Then the relation could be the following’: Four or five short sentences. Both agreed: ‘It could be like that.’ The dialogue continued until Heidegger had to help them out of the next impasse.

  • 2 von Weizsäcker (1977a), ‘Begegnungen in vier Jahrzehnten,’ pp. 240–41.
  • 3 Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1990 [1949]), ‘Beziehungen der theoretischen Physik zum Denken Heid (...)

3A year earlier, in 1934, when the young von Weizsäcker was working with Bohr in Copenhagen, he bought a copy of Being and Time and read it alongside Kant’s work. Although he had trouble understanding the writings of both, he felt Heidegger came closer than any other philosopher to the ‘unsolved problems’ he faced in his own work.2 Later, in a 1949 essay on the ‘Relations of Theoretical Physics to Heidegger’s Thinking,’ von Weizsäcker observed that ‘the substantive separation of the res cogitans and res extensa is the methodological presupposition of the classical natural sciences in their entirety.’ The methodological purity of these classical sciences forbids the mixing of the two. Furthermore, the ideal of classical physics had been to speak only of one of the two Cartesian substances: ‘It should speak of the object as if there were no subject whose object it is or can be.’ With the new physics, in contrast, a physicist who asks what the atom is ‘has every reason not to repeat Descartes’s error’ by determining this ‘is’ in terms of the properties of a discrete substance, but instead ‘to follow Heidegger in questioning what “being” itself means.’3

  • 4 On the relationship between Heidegger and Heisenberg, see: Cathryn Carson (2010), ‘Science as Inst (...)

4Despite Heidegger’s impartial adjudication of the debate between the older von Weizsäcker and Heisenberg, it is clear that the younger von Weizsäcker viewed Heidegger’s philosophy as directly (though not entirely) supportive of the new physics, and as directly critical of the classical understanding exemplified by his uncle Viktor. Indeed, as we saw in Chapter One, Heidegger traced the original impulse of modern treatments of the subject as a ‘living object’ not just back to Descartes, but still further back to Aristotle’s definition of the human being as zōon logon echon, later interpreted to mean ‘animal rationale,’ a living thing capable of reason. In Chapter Four, we then saw how, according to Heidegger, this ancient view was transformed (among other things, Christianised) within the framework of Descartes’s substance ontology. The living thing becomes a discrete substance, an object with the properties of life and reason. By insisting that the subject be understood reductively as a living object, Viktor von Weizsäcker appears to have been reproducing the modern entanglement of Cartesian ontology and the methods of classical science. The Cartesian subject continues to circulate beneath the elder von Weizsäcker’s commitment to an object ontology, asserting its presence through those deliberate methodological acts which, paradoxically, seek to erase it from the realm of legitimate scientific discourse. At least, this is how I imagine it would have looked from the perspectives of Heidegger, Heisenberg, and Carl von Weizsäcker. On the other hand, Heisenberg’s insistence on the need for a precise explanation of the scientific subject would have presumably looked to the older von Weizsäcker like a regressive move threatening the basic methodological presuppositions of established scientific method, and hence the prevailing norms of objective knowledge production.4

5One central goal of this book has been to provide a more precise account of the subjectivity of the scientific subject — in a nutshell, to elaborate an account of science as social existence. This has involved the combination of SSK with Heidegger’s existential conception of science. This combination is based, among other things, on the phenomenological deconstruction of the Cartesian subject-object distinction in its entirety, rather than on the reductive collapse of the subject-side of the distinction into its object-side.

6Yet, from a certain perspective, this method may appear lamentably misguided, as it insists on a necessary role for the subject. The first three chapters of this book considered a number of criticisms which appear to have been motivated by this perspective. Looking back, I would like to suggest (not without mischief) that these criticisms may be labelled as either conservative or liberal. Chapter One briefly addressed the conservative criticism, and Chapters Two and Three addressed variations of the liberal criticism. On my reading, the conservative feels threatened by the thematisation of the subject because she believes that the prevailing methods of science prohibit a place for subjects. Instead, she emphasises the strictly object-based nature of knowledge: the subject must be suppressed in order to conserve the propriety of established scientific norms. The liberal, in turn, feels threatened by attention to the subject because she views this as a sly attempt to reassert the authority of the subject-object distinction, and thus to re-impose an unwelcome and atavistic constraint on the recently won autonomy of the post-Cartesian scientific imagination. Despite their differences, both criticisms mistakenly believe that a methodological orientation to the subject must be underpinned by an essentialist commitment to Cartesian substance ontology.

7The conservative critics mentioned at the beginning of Chapter One accuse SSK practitioners of handling their alleged Cartesian commitment with incompetence. For these critics, the object-based method is meant to capture the independently existing object without interference from the subject. SSK practitioners argue that this is not possible, because knowledge of the object necessarily implicates the knowing subject. The critics interpret this as scepticism about the existence of an independent object of knowledge, or, put otherwise, scepticism about the fundamental separability of object from subject. This is more generally framed as scepticism about the existence of the external world. This scepticism, so the critics say, results from SSK’s incompetent failure to protect the object-side from corruption by the subject-side of the Cartesian ontological schema. In other words, it results from an incompetent failure to follow the established methods of classical science.

8I have argued that this criticism misjudges SSK in both motive and method. SSK practitioners deliberately seek to follow the methodological conventions of science by affirming the existence of an external world. At the same time, however, they wish to radically reform the theory of knowledge arising from the Cartesian schema. This attempted reform, I have suggested, has not been radical enough, and this has led to significant tensions in SSK’s attitude towards external-world scepticism, tensions which have been effectively exploited by critics, conservative and liberal alike. I argued that SSK can resolve these tensions by adopting Heidegger’s phenomenological deconstruction of the Cartesian schema, a move which explains the subject-object distinction in terms of a more basic subject-world relation. Now the subject is no longer seen as a social substance gaining access to an external world, but as an entity whose basic modes of existence include being-in-the-world and being-with-others. With this move, an affirmation of the existence of an external world becomes meaningless, because the subject is not something to which a world can be external. This move may be viewed as a preliminary answer to Heisenberg’s call for a more precise explanation of the scientific subject, the experimenter, following the collapse of the orthodox subject-object distinction in the early twentieth century.

9The liberal critic of Chapter Two was Joseph Rouse, who accuses both Heidegger and SSK practitioners of espousing a theory-dominant account of science. I challenged this criticism in both cases, while acknowledging that, in the case of SSK, Rouse makes some good points. Indeed, he exploits the tensions just mentioned in order to charge SSK with a ‘vestigial commitment to epistemology.’ By this he means a commitment to the Cartesian schema. According to Rouse, SSK practitioners seek to separate social and natural phenomena into autonomous domains, and they must then face the sceptical problem of how the constructive social domain achieves access to the natural domain in the production of knowledge. Rouse reads this as an atavistic recapitulation of the subject-object distinction, where the subject is a relatively rigid social substance and nature the discrete object of its epistemic attentions. Yet, without claiming that SSK practitioners have slipped entirely free from this schema, I argued that Rouse dramatically suppresses the not inconsiderable ways in which they have recognised the instability and dynamism of the social realm.

10Rouse’s argument that Heidegger, too, espouses a theory-dominant account of science is based on his claim that Heidegger’s mathematical projection of nature is a theoretical phenomenon. In particular, Heidegger’s emphasis on this allegedly theoretical projection purportedly leads him to dismiss experimental practice as merely incidental to scientific activity. In response, I have argued, over several chapters, that Heidegger’s mathematical projection is the existential condition which makes modern scientific activity — both theoretical and experimental — possible. In his alternative proposal, Rouse turns this explanatory model on its head, arguing instead that meaning-constitutive scientific practices are, in fact, the condition of possibility for existence. The existence of subjects and objects is to be explained by practices, and not the other way around. Hence, the explanatory role of Heidegger’s mathematical projection — as a historical mode of scientific subjectivity — is neutralised. In his proposed alternative to SSK, Rouse likewise seeks to dissolve the distinction between social subject and natural object in an ever-circulating field of heterogeneous scientific practices. Here, too, the explanatory role of the social subject has been neutralised.

11In my view, such attempts to erase — rather than to deconstruct and transform — the traditional distinctions of subject and object, society and nature, mind and body, and theory and practice serve a particular conception of freedom, one which regards such distinctions as placing an unnecessary and unwelcome constraint on the free play of intellectual analysis. Underpinning this conception is a particular idea of the human being. This is an idea which credits the human being with an intrinsic ability to throw off the cognitive constraints of its social and historical circumstances, so as to achieve autonomy. It is, in other words, an idea which directly challenges the finitude of human reason and imagination.

12This brings us to the liberal critic of Chapter Three, Bruno Latour. My analysis focussed narrowly on Latour’s debate, in the 1990s, with David Bloor. In inviting his readers to take ‘one more turn after the social turn,’ Latour argued that the symmetry principle, a central tenet of SSK, uncritically reproduces the subject-object schema as formulated by Immanuel Kant. According to Latour, SSK is grounded in a distinction between a ‘subject pole’ and an ‘object pole,’ with all of SSK’s explanatory resources being gathered around the subject pole, and none at all being drawn to the object pole. He declares this asymmetrical, and proposes that all explanatory resources should be removed from the subject pole as well, leaving both the subject and the object equally useless in explanations of scientific knowledge production. Under this new, and allegedly more thoroughgoing, symmetry, the subject and object, society and nature, themselves become topics requiring explanation. As with Rouse, they are to be explained in terms of fields of circulating scientific practice. Thus the explanatory significance of the social subject has once again been neutralised.

13I argued that Latour, like Rouse, exploits genuine tensions in the SSK literature, but likewise exaggerates their significance, consequently suppressing the extent to which SSK practitioners have sought to radically reformulate the orthodox subject-object distinction. In my view, to acknowledge such efforts would have compromised Latour’s main goal: to promote an unrestrained constructivity, stripped of its social and historical constraints, as the fundamental explanatory resource for studies of science.

14I suggested that we can better understand what is at stake in the debate between Bloor and Latour by considering Heidegger’s own analysis of the Kantian version of the subject-object distinction. Kant construes the object as a thing-in-itself. On Heidegger’s reading, the thing-in-itself marks the extreme limit of human understanding. It is that aspect of nature which continually outstrips our correspondingly finite ability to make sense of it, to draw it into the snare of our constructive power. The thing-in-itself thus represents independently existing nature, and so figures as a basic presupposition in the position I have called ‘minimal realism.’ Accordingly, I argued that Latour’s attack on the thing-in-itself amounts to a rejection of both minimal realism and the finitude of human understanding. As a consequence, Latour may be viewed as embracing a concept of unrestrained constructivity, as well as a position which I have dubbed ‘pragmatic idealism.’

15My main goal in these concluding reflections is not to relaunch my earlier critique of the positive doctrines of these liberal critics, but instead to reemphasise the inadequacy of their alleged refutations of SSK and Heidegger’s existential conception of science. They have not succeeded in refuting these positions because they have not properly understood them. I will, nevertheless, offer the opinion that these critics have also failed in their positive attempt to radically liberate themselves from the subject-object distinction. Rather than superseding the informal, existential root of this distinction (that is, our feeling of directedness towards independently existing things), they have instead succeeded only in suppressing it as a topic of analysis, and hence as a potential basis for understanding science. As a result, these critics seem to grant free licence to the subject’s activities while simultaneously withholding the conceptual tools by which to properly analyse and explain those activities. This unfortunate circumstance may be viewed as a form of — perhaps unwitting — intellectual dissimulation: the concealment of a concept which, in fact, plays a central role in the position being promoted. This concealed concept is, of course, the concept of the subject.

16In contrast to this, Chapters Four, Five, and Six investigated the scientific subject as one side of a phenomenologically grounded distinction between thinking and things. One central consequence of this investigation has been to improve our understanding of the concept of scientific practice. The liberal dissimulation sinks the subject beneath the surface of a smoothly functioning system of practices, thereby masking the subject’s crucial role in the constitution of those practices. The reintroduction of the subject allows us to topicalise practices in a way discouraged by those who, paradoxically, promote practice as one of their primary explanatory resources. By topicalising practices, we can develop a better understanding of what practices are, and this, in turn, will enable us to better control and apply the concept of practice as a central explanatory resource.

17These considerations now allow us to segue back to Carl von Weizsäcker’s reflections on Heidegger and post-classical physics. Von Weizsäcker felt that Heidegger’s ruminations on the question of being could guide him in his attempt to overcome the classical Cartesian image of the atom as a property-bearing substance. Heisenberg, in kind, was searching for a new post-Cartesian understanding of the experimenter-subject’s role vis-à-vis the atom and other experimentally detectable objects. As we have seen, Heidegger’s question of being may be treated as a question about the meaning of the word ‘being.’ He argues that ‘being’ is a polysemous word, with connotations of both existence and essence, that-being and what-being. Hence, to ask about the being of the atom is to ask both whether it is and what it is.

18I have argued that to assert the independent existence of a thing to which an experimental term refers is to be a minimal realist about that thing; it is to assert that the thing is, that it exists. This assertion formally articulates, in propositional terms, our experience of that thing’s independent existence, an experience grounded in our receptivity towards, our ability to be affected by, that thing. On the basis of this experience, we know that the thing is, but not what it is; we can state whether it is, but not what it is. In contrast, being able to say what the thing is depends on our being able to experience it in its whatness as well as its thatness. This experience is grounded in our projective understanding of the thing, our ability to make sense of it, to construct it as meaningful. This experience, too, may be formally articulated in propositional statements about what the thing is, about its essence. Such acts of articulation may, however, also be non-linguistic, as, for example, in the case of a laboratory set-up, constructed to let the thing be what it is for the disciplined experience of an attentive observer. That the experimenter’s experience is disciplined points to the sociological — in addition to the psychological, biological, and technological — conditions which give shape to that experience. For this reason, topicalising the scientific subject invites the application of psychological, biological, technological, and sociological explanatory resources.

19We can now see how von Weizsäcker’s question about the being of the atom and Heisenberg’s question about the role of the experimenting subject come together. The that-being and what-being of the atom correlate, respectively, to the receptivity and constructivity of the scientific subject. Hence, in order to understand the being of the atom, we must also investigate the structure of scientific experience. This is why Heidegger argued that the question of being points necessarily towards the existential structure of the subject (Dasein), towards a phenomenological analysis of the subjectivity of the subject. As we have seen, Heidegger’s analysis picks out at least four basic, interrelated characteristics of that subjectivity: (1) being-in-the-world; (2) being-with-others; (3) understanding; and (4) affectivity.

  • 5 Martin Heidegger (1962a [1927]), Being and Time, trans. by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (Ox (...)

20In Chapter One, the first characteristic was used to help SSK practitioners in their realist response to the external-world sceptic. According to Heidegger, being-in-the-world is a basic state of subjectivity when experienced in more immediate non-Cartesian and non-Kantian terms. But it is not the only basic state. The second characteristic — being-with-others — is an equally basic aspect of subjectivity. Indeed, Heidegger writes that ‘[t]he world of Dasein is a with-world [Mitwelt]. Being-in is Being-with Others.’5 However, Heidegger did not develop this second characteristic of subjectivity as thoroughly as he did the first characteristic. I have used the insights and empirical studies of SSK to help mitigate this deficiency in Heidegger’s work, first with respect to the social foundations of logic, in Chapter Four, and then with respect to the emergence of early-modern experimental practice, in Chapter Six. Certainly a good deal more work could still be done in this area.

21The third basic characteristic of subjectivity — understanding — has received ample attention throughout the preceding chapters. This characteristic picks out the fundamentally cognitive aspect of subjectivity, an aspect underpinning and enabling all knowledge, whether it be tacit or explicit, non-propositional or propositional, practical or theoretical. Much attention has also been given to the changes-over from tacit to explicit, non-propositional to propositional, and practical to theoretical forms of cognition. For Heidegger, all of these changes-over occur against the continuous backdrop of the subject’s elemental state of understandingly being in the world with others. As we have seen, a key structure of this understanding is projection. Accordingly, Heidegger viewed the emergence of early-modern scientific practice and theory against the existential backdrop of a mathematical projection of the thingness of things. Understanding may thus be viewed in terms of the projective constructivity of the subject.

22The fourth basic characteristic of the subjectivity of the subject — affectivity — has received comparatively little attention in this book. Indeed, I directly addressed it only in Chapter Three, and again, more briefly, in Chapter Four, as part of a discussion of the receptivity of the subject. The argument in Chapter Three was that Heidegger’s construal of receptivity as affectivity grounds his reinterpretation (not rejection) of the Kantian thing-in-itself. Affectivity is thus a core concept of minimal realism. Things affect us, therefore they exist. I drew from clinical studies of anxiety to empirically support this claim.

  • 6 David Bloor (1997b), Wittgenstein, Rules and Institutions (London: Routledge), p. 22.

23In Chapter Four, we saw that Kant, in Heidegger’s reading, recognised the affective nature of receptivity in his phenomenology of respect for rules. The compulsive character of this respect provides an existential condition of possibility for thinking and doing, for understanding, as such. Our affectivity vis-à-vis rules for understanding helps to explain their normative power as guides for our thinking and doing. However, as we also saw, in Heidegger’s account it is not towards the rules themselves that our respect is directed, but towards the persons, the community, generating and sustaining those rules. On this basis, I developed the implications of Heidegger’s phenomenology of rule-following by joining it with the more empirical work of SSK, summed up in Bloor’s observation that ‘[w]e are compelled by rules in so far as we, collectively, compel one another.’6

  • 7 Heidegger (1962a), Being and Time, p. 205 [162]; translation modified.
  • 8 Heidegger (1962a), Being and Time, pp. 182 [143], 173 [134].

24However, unlike in the case of being-with-others, SSK can offer few resources for developing Heidegger’s meagre account of the affective dimension of scientific subjectivity. Indeed, against the backdrop of Heidegger’s claim that ‘Dasein-with is already essentially manifest in a co-affectivity and a co-understanding,’ we may judge SSK to have been far more concerned with co-understanding than with co-affectivity.7 This is a serious deficiency, one also reflected in the pages of this book. Despite the substantial attention which has already been given to changes-over in understanding, these changes-over will never be properly understood until comparable attention has been also given to the corresponding changes-over in affectivity. Although Heidegger argued that ‘[u]nderstanding always has its mood,’ and although he recognised ‘[t]he fact that moods can […] change over,’ he gave scarcely any attention to the affective structure of cognitive changes-over in understanding.8 For their part, SSK practitioners have likewise failed to produce studies systematically focussed on the affective aspect of scientific knowledge production.

25I view this deficiency as ‘unfinished business,’ and thus as an invitation for future research. Accordingly, the remainder of this chapter will point forward, towards areas where valuable scholarly work might still be done. In moving forward, then, let us begin by first looking back, one last time, to Carl von Weizsäcker’s reflections on Heidegger and twentieth-century science. Despite his high regard for Heidegger, von Weizsäcker also points to deficiencies in Heidegger’s knowledge of the natural sciences. Von Weizsäcker’s criticism hinges on Heidegger’s later reflections, from the 1940s onward, on the relationship between modern physics and modern technology, and so carries us beyond the scope of Heidegger’s earlier work, which has been the main focus of this book. Let us review some of Heidegger’s later reflections before considering von Weizsäcker’s criticism.

  • 9 Martin Heidegger (1977b [1954]), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ in The Question Concerning (...)
  • 10 Heidegger (1954a), ‘Die Frage nach der Technik,’ p. 24. Cf. Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Conce (...)
  • 11 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 21.
  • 12 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 19. In ordinary usage, Gestell usually (...)
  • 13 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 10.

26In 1953, Heidegger presented a lecture, published in 1954 as ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ in which he argued that ‘[t]he modern physical theory of nature prepares the way […] for the essence of technology,’ and that it does so because it ‘pursues and entraps [ stellt] nature as a calculable coherence of forces.’9 The implication is that modern physics paves the way for modern technology, because it ‘entraps’ nature. However, ‘entraps’ is a misleading translation of stellen, which typically means ‘to place.’ Indeed, just a few lines earlier, Heidegger had made clear that stellen, in his specialised usage, reflects two different meanings: first, an ‘ordering which challenges forth’ (das herausfordernde Bestellen); second, a ‘producing which brings forth’ (das hervorbringende Her-stellen).10 He states that these two meanings are ‘fundamentally different, and yet they remain related in their essence.’11 The word ‘entraps’ emphasises the first meaning of stellen, and suppresses the second. To more succinctly express this first meaning, Heidegger proposes the word Ge-stell, typically translated, for this purpose, as ‘enframing.’12 As the essence of modern technology, enframing places nature in a frame, just as ‘entrap’ means to place something in a trap. To more succinctly express the second, contrasting meaning of stellen, Heidegger uses the ancient Greek word poiēsis, which is meant to signify the kind of the non-modern technical production typical of art, poetry, and handicraft.13 Heidegger thus denotes the double meaning he ascribes to stellen by the concepts of enframing and poiēsis.

  • 14 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 21.
  • 15 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 11.

27As just mentioned, Heidegger states that these two meanings are fundamentally different, but he also says that they are related ‘in their essence.’ They are essentially related because ‘[b]oth are ways of revealing.’14 For Heidegger, revealing means ‘com[ing] into unconcealment.’15 This may be glossed as a thing’s being moved, metaphorically, from hiddenness or concealment, and placed in the light. Revealing thus means ‘illuminating,’ rendering a thing intelligible or understandable as what it is. According to Heidegger, enframing and poiēsis are two fundamentally different ways in which this is done, two fundamentally different ways in which a thing is ‘placed’ in the light of projective understanding.

28If placing a thing in the light of understanding means putting it in its proper place, the place where it may be encountered as what it is, then enframing and poiēsis each suggest fundamentally different conceptions of a thing’s proper place, and hence also of its whatness. While this is not how Heidegger explicitly described the difference, the grounds for such an interpretation have already been established in Chapters Five and Six, with the discussions of mathēsis and final causation. In Chapter Five, I argued that we need the concept of a final cause in order to make sense of the artful manipulation of things. The final cause explains the order and meaning of such manipulations, grounds their intelligibility, thereby distinguishing them from random, unstructured behaviour. It thus plays a necessary role in any comprehensive account of practice. It explains how a practice realises its completion in a finished thing, how the practice lets the thing become what it is. In Aristotelian terms, to let a thing become what it is means to guide it to its proper place in the cosmos. A practice may thus be viewed as an act of placing, regulated by a final cause. There will be as many final causes as there are proper places in the cosmos.

29In Chapter Six, I laid out Heidegger’s account of the mathematisation of early-modern science in terms of mathēsis, a process whereby final causes become consolidated under a single, uniform measure. This uniform measure is the one final cause, the basic blueprint, regulating the early-modern experimental manipulation of nature. Under the guidance of this basic blueprint, the prevailing conception of the thingness, or whatness, of things is rendered uniform. As a consequence, the scientific thing now has only one proper place in the cosmos, and there is thus only one general way of properly ‘placing’ it in that cosmos, of letting it be what it is. Under these circumstances, the scientific thing is illuminated or revealed — experienced as intelligible — in the light of a single, homogenous understanding.

30I want to now suggest that, as two different ways of placing things in the light of understanding, enframing and poiēsis are guided, respectively, by homogenous and heterogeneous pictures of place. Enframing is a homogenous revealing; poiēsis is a heterogeneous revealing. With enframing, then, the world is experienced in light of a single, uniform picture. With poiēsis, by contrast, the world is experienced in light of multiple diverse pictures.

  • 16 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ pp. 16, 19.
  • 17 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 30.

31Heidegger calls enframing a ‘challenging revealing,’ as well as an ‘ordering revealing.’16 His idea seems to have been that enframing challenges or orders things — forcibly places, or frames, them — into a single, homogenous picture, in light of which we may then experience them as what they are. In this way, ‘[e]nframing […] blocks poiēsis,’ prevents us from encountering things in the heterogeneous light of multiply different pictures.17

  • 18 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 22.

32On the face of it, this seems like not such a bad thing when it comes to scientific practice. For example, standardised terminologies and methods allow for effective cooperation between differently situated laboratories. In this sense, homogenous revealing may be viewed as a strength of modern science. Natural scientists are able to coordinate with one another, and to build on one another’s results, because they all inhabit, so to speak, the same general picture. Homogenous revealing allows for a productive co-understanding of nature among members of the scientific community. However, Heidegger also observes that this strength carries with it a danger, because the modern physical theory of nature ‘prepares the way’ for enframing: ‘Modern physics is the herald of Enframing.’18 His idea seems to have been that modern science proffers a standardised form of understanding which, when transported out of the realm of scientific practice, and into the broader realm of human society, poses a threat to the diverse range of understandings which are presumably integral to the well-being of that broader society. What stands as a strength in science proves to be a weakness in society in general. Modern machine technology provides the physical medium by which the homogenous revealing of modern science becomes suffused into society as a whole. However, as I suggested at the end of Chapter Six, the fact that machine technology should have provided this medium seems a matter of social and historical contingency. Whether one understands society in terms of a machine or in terms of an organism, one is, in both cases, conceptualising it as a whole, in light of a single, uniform picture. And it is this homogenisation of understanding which sits at the core of Heidegger’s worries about scientific and technological modernity.

  • 19 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 33.
  • 20 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 33.
  • 21 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ pp. 35, 33. Andrew Feenberg has developed (...)

33A significant question, which Heidegger leaves unanswered, is why this homogenisation should at all take place. Assuming Heidegger’s account is correct, then how should society in general have become, or now be under threat of becoming, wholly enframed by the homogenous revealing peculiar to the comparatively small community of modern scientists? This question is perhaps best left to historians and sociologists of science and technology. From the perspective presented here, however, their answers should give consequential attention to the role of subjectivity in the process. In this regard, Heidegger offers a phenomenological clue when he refers to the ‘irresistibility of ordering.’19 Because the co-understanding giving shape to modern science is irresistible, its application beyond the scientific realm will also be experienced, increasingly, as irresistible or compelling. Hence, alternative experiences of nature will be blocked, among them, and most importantly, the experience enabled by the heterogeneous revealing of poiēsis. In some highly speculative comments, Heidegger suggests that the irresistibility of enframing may somehow lead to its own dissolution, by bringing to light an ‘as yet unexperienced […] saving power.’20 This saving power will allow for a return to the heterogeneous revealing of poiēsis. Heidegger then wonders: ‘Could it be that the fine arts […] may expressly foster the growth of the saving power […]?’ This, then, is his highly tentative answer to the perceived threat of enframing. In concluding his speculations, Heidegger does not argue that, but instead wonders whether, the fine arts may furnish the necessary ‘restraint’ by which to counter the irresistibility of enframing. He thus leaves the question concerning technological enframing unresolved.21

  • 22 For my part, I have responded to Latour’s Heideggeresque claim that modern science ‘transform[s] s (...)
  • 23 Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ in Der Garten des Me (...)
  • 24 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 431.
  • 25 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 431.
  • 26 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 429.
  • 27 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 431.

34There is much to contend with here. For present purposes, however, let us limit ourselves to von Wiezsäcker’s response to Heidegger.22 Von Weizsäcker argues that Heidegger was right to identify enframing as ‘the signature of our time.’ Nevertheless, Heidegger’s own reflections on enframing were handicapped, he writes, because ‘Heidegger was unable to think the natural sciences through to their base.’ In von Weizsäcker’s view, the reason that an alternative to enframing has not yet presented itself ‘lies in the fact that the path of science has not yet reached its end.’23 As a physicist, von Weizsäcker felt himself obliged to follow scientific understanding to its conclusion, and he expressed mild optimism that an alternative would be thus disclosed, while he remained sensitive to the risk and uncertainty of the venture: ‘The saving power is already intangibly present here in the middle of the world of tangibility. The prospecting and trespass of paths in the danger is accessible through planning and is therefore an obligation.’24 The ‘planning’ to which von Weizsäcker refers seems to deliberately depend on empirical-causal analysis guided by the homogenising revealing of enframing. He describes enframing as ‘the deconstruction of reality in conceptual acts of imagination, and the attempt to reconstruct the whole as the sum of interacting parts.’25 For him, the ‘whole’ to be deconstructed and reconstructed includes the subject. He writes that ‘[t]he reflexive or phenomenological self-awareness of the subject can be supported or corrected by the causal insight of the natural sciences.’26 The idea seems to be that subjectivity should be drawn within the frame of a world picture, where it will then be analytically deconstructed and reconstructed in a process which will, so von Weizsäcker hopes, ultimately disclose a mode of understanding which enables ‘restraint’ in the face of the ‘irresistibility’ of enframing. Where Heidegger saw the path from enframing back to poiēsis as travelling through the fine arts, von Weizsäcker saw it as travelling more deeply into the natural sciences, or, more specifically, more deeply into the dynamics of enframing itself. Indeed, he even named the scientific field most likely to yield this result: ‘[t]his conceptual reconstruction of a whole is today called systems theory.’27 For him, an answer to the danger posed by modern technological thinking lies in the direction of systems theory, the scientific discipline of cybernetics.

  • 28 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 429.
  • 29 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ pp. 428, 429.

35Von Weizsäcker argues that in order to understand the conditions of possibility for modern science and technology, that is, in order to understand the origins of enframing, we must investigate ‘the basic condition of possibility for conceptual thinking as such.’28 In other words, the focus of his proposed system-theoretic investigation of enframing is squarely centred on an understanding of the subjectivity of the subject. The subject is to be viewed in cybernetic terms, as an entity existing within a self-regulating system. And this system, in turn, is to be viewed in ecological terms, as the physical surroundings in which conceptual thinking, as such, emerges, stabilises, and evolves. Von Weizsäcker’s hope was that cybernetics will discover the ‘fundamental laws formulat[ing] the way and manner by which a conceptual-empirical thinking of what is can be the case.’ More specifically, these laws will describe the logic of objective experience, that is, the rules governing ‘the correctness of behaviour [a]s adaequatio ad rem, adaptation to the conditions of the ecological niche.’29 In a nutshell, then, von Weizsäcker proposed a cybernetic theory of normativity.

  • 30 Martin Heidegger (1993c [1969]), ‘The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,’ trans. by Joan (...)
  • 31 Heidegger (1993c [1969]), ‘The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,’ p. 64.
  • 32 Heidegger, Martin (1987/88), ‘Brief an Jean Beaufret/Letter to Jean Beaufret,’ trans. by Steven Da (...)
  • 33 Andrew Pickering consistently obscures Heidegger’s identification of enframing with homogenous rev (...)

36Although von Weizsäcker comments that Heidegger had never tried to dissuade him from his interest in cybernetics, Heidegger did, in fact, otherwise express clear scepticism about cybernetics in his later work, especially in respect of what he understood to be that theory’s account of subjectivity. In an essay from the late 1960s, Heidegger writes that ‘the new fundamental science that is called cybernetics […] corresponds to the determination of man as an acting social animal [handelnd-gesellschaftliches Wesens].’30 The translation of this passage could be misleading. The word ‘acting’ possesses a more neutral connotation than does handelnd. It simply means to take action, without specifying the nature of that action. Hence, it is closer to the German word tätig. The word handelnd, in contrast, also carries connotations of ‘dealing’ and ‘trading,’ and thus may carry a distinctly economic hue. The word ‘social,’ in turn, can mean ‘gregarious’ or ‘sociable,’ much like the German word gesellig. The word gesellschaftlich, on the other hand, may also be translated as ‘societal’ or ‘corporate.’ It thus suggests an organised body of individuals, rather than an individual who is simply disposed to engage with others. In Heidegger’s view, then, cybernetics begins with an inappropriately narrow conception of the human being, one seemingly influenced by economic and corporate models of rationality and exchange. He was especially concerned about the influence of cybernetics on prevailing conceptions of language: ‘Cybernetics transforms language into an exchange of news.’31 In 1975, the year before his death, Heidegger wrote that ‘[t]he ascending dominion of linguistics and of the information sciences threatens to drive the efforts of thinking and poetizing and their great traditions out of human eyesight.’32 Hence, for Heidegger, cybernetics offered little hope for salvation in the face of the perceived threat of enframing. Indeed, by apparently eclipsing the poetical and contemplative aspects of human experience — by blocking poiēsis — cybernetics seemed, for Heidegger, to powerfully exemplify the very phenomenon of homogenous revealing characteristic of enframing.33

37Whereas von Weizsäcker’s theory of normativity puts the system at its centre, Heidegger’s theory puts the subject at its centre. Nevertheless, the root difference between their respective theories lies in their contrasting interpretations of the subject. In my view, von Weizsäcker implicitly advances a theory of the subject which makes necessary a systems-theoretic account of normativity. Heidegger, in contrast, does not. In order to more clearly understand this difference, it will be useful to revisit two concepts introduced in Chapter Six, those of the Galilean First Thing and of the world picture.

  • 34 Mayr notes that the idea that the ‘discord of individuals […] contribute[s] to a concord of the wh (...)

38Recall that the Galilean First Thing is a thing left entirely to itself, to be at rest, or to move uniformly in a straight line, without interference from without. Newton formalised this concept in the First Law, which interprets the thing, fundamentally, as a law-abiding thing. Note that this image, of a thing left entirely to itself, negates the necessity of a system to which that thing belongs as a constituent part. This situation changes, however, when seventeenth-century experimental philosophers begin to consider the thing as existing in a world also inhabited by other things. Robert Boyle and his colleagues, as we saw, viewed the experimental thing as endeavouring to beat back its neighbours, so as to open up around itself an autonomous space, a space in which to achieve its native independence. One puzzle which seems to arise from such a conception of things is that of the order among things: if things are fundamentally disposed to seek their independence from one another, then why are we not now faced with a world of disjointed chaos? I want to suggest that the concept of system emerged as an answer to this question. The order we observe is not to be explained in terms of individuals, but in terms of an organised whole in relation to which those individuals stand as constitutive parts. Order is a property of the whole, irreducible to the part. This ordered whole is a system. Insofar as this system possesses the principle of its own organisation, it is a self-organising system. While the individual strives to move itself towards autonomy, the system strives to move itself towards order, equilibrium. Autonomy and equilibrium thus figure as the respective final causes of the individual thing and the system. The latter explains the presence of order left unaccounted for by the former. The world pictured as a self-regulating system thus offsets the threat of world disorder implied in the thing conceived as an autonomous individual.34

  • 35 See Martin Heidegger (1971b [1954]), ‘The Thing,’ in Poetry, Language, Thought, by Martin Heidegge (...)

39If, however, one conceives of the thing in a different manner, one suggesting relative order among things rather than potential chaos, one will then require no additional concept of system to explain order. Order among things will instead be the result of things regulating themselves, rather than of things being the constituents of a discrete, self-regulating system. Indeed, in 1950, three years before presenting ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ Heidegger presented to the same audience a lecture entitled ‘The Thing,’ which was published together with the later lecture in 1954. He was evidently involved in a further reconceptualisation of the thing during the same period in which he was developing his critique of enframing.35

  • 36 Heidegger (1971b), ‘The Thing,’ p. 177.
  • 37 Heidegger (1971b), ‘The Thing,’ p. 181. Cf. the original German: ‘Das Ding verweilt das Geviert. D (...)

40Heidegger’s alternative conception of the thing is a strange one. He grounds it in an old Germanic meaning for ‘thing’ as ‘gathering.’36 Furthermore, when a thing ‘does its thing,’ that is, when it subsists as a gathering, we may say — employing an obsolete English usage, meaning ‘to reconcile’ — that the thing things, that it brings reconciliation in the form of a gathering. What does the thing, by thinging, gather together? According to Heidegger, it gathers together earth, sky, gods, and mortals in a unitary ‘fourfold.’ This gathered fourfold, in turn, makes a ‘world’ possible. Heidegger writes: ‘The thing stays — gathers and unites — the fourfold. The thing things world.’37

  • 38 Heidegger (1954b), ‘Das Ding,’ pp. 158–66; my translations. Cf. Heidegger (1971b), ‘The Thing,’ pp (...)
  • 39 Heidegger (1954b), ‘Das Ding,’ p. 165. Cf. Heidegger (1971b), ‘The Thing,’ p. 173.

41In developing this self-consciously poetical account of the thing, the later Heidegger uses the example of a wine jug — a vessel or ‘stowage’ (Gefäß) in which to ‘stow’ (fassen) wine.38 To pour wine for someone is to ‘bestow’ (schenken) it on them, and the result of this bestowing is a ‘bestowal’ (Geschenk, or ‘gift’). This bestowal lets the jug be what it is qua jug. The bestowing of wine gathers together, in the same moment — in one bestowal — the earth and sky, gods and mortals. In this moment, with the bestowed wine, one experiences the earth’s nutrients and the sky’s sun and rain. One also experiences the mortals whose thirst the wine slakes, and, when it is offered as a libation, the gods whom it honours. Crucially, Heidegger argues that the bestowing of wine as a libation is the ‘true’ (eigentliche) bestowal.39 Through this act the jug is let be what it essentially is. The gods are apparently the fundamental for-the-sake-of-which of the wine jug in the context of use, the principal reason for the jug’s being what it is.

42This claim may be more fully unpacked by returning to ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ where Heidegger discusses a ceremonial bowl. Drawing on Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes in order to explain the whatness of the bowl, Heidegger writes the following.

  • 40 Heidegger (1954a), ‘Die Frage nach der Technik,’ p. 13; my translation. Cf. Heidegger (1977b), ‘Th (...)

But a third cause remains above all responsible for it. It is that which limits the bowl beforehand within a realm of dedication and offering. Through this, the bowl is defined [umgrenzt] as a sacrificial implement. That which defines brings the thing to an end. With this end the thing does not finish, but rather, from it, the thing begins to be what, following its manufacture, it will be. Bringing-to-an-end, consummation, in this sense, is what the Greeks called telos, which one all too often translates, and thus misconstrues, as ‘goal’ and ‘purpose.’40

43Just as the jug is truly let be what it is in the act of pouring a libation for the gods, so too the bowl is, above all, let be what it is in an act of dedication and offering, presumably also directed towards the gods. That for the sake of which a thing is enrolled in a practice is the final cause, the ultimate meaning and end, of that thing. As I argued in Chapter Five, this end is the norm governing the thing’s proper usage. A thing is thus defined by its directedness towards that end.

  • 41 Indeed, as Miles Burnyeat has shown, the paradox of the heap has been also used to undermine the a (...)

44Yet, as I furthermore argued in Chapter Six, the experimental thing is also defined by its directedness towards an end, namely, the state of pure autonomy represented by the Galilean First Thing. In my view, the difference between the two conceptions lies in the fact that this autonomy, as an end, stands as the only end, the singular basic blueprint, for the thingness of things in general. In contrast, on Heidegger’s alternative conception the final cause according to which the thingness of things is determined is presented as plural — ‘the gods’ — rather than as singular. It is, in other words, a heterogeneous rather than a homogenous conception. Furthermore, Heidegger’s alternative is couched in terms which seem to resist formalisation, in much the same way as the term ‘heap,’ which we considered at the beginning of Chapter Five.41 Although a plurality of gods may be thematised as a mytho-poetical pantheon, it will nevertheless resist formalisation as a system. Heidegger presumably felt that a Newtonian rationalisation of the fourfold is not possible, because rationalisation demands homogenisation (in this case, monotheism) in order to avoid contradiction. Viewed through the lens of Heidegger’s late reflections, one might see the Galilean First Thing as a god which has successfully beaten back the other gods, thereby establishing itself as an autonomous and uniform measure for the mathematicisation of nature.

  • 42 For arguments that Heidegger’s concept of the gods can be reinterpreted in sociological terms, see (...)

45But let us bring Heidegger’s mytho-poetical phenomenology back down to a more concrete level. I suggest that it may still be possible to proceed scientifically on the basis of Heidegger’s comments. My proposal involves reading Heidegger’s late reflections in light of his earlier views on final causation and the subjectivity of the subject, as discussed in Chapter Five. Recall Heidegger’s claim that the final causes guiding and regulating practice ultimately bottom out in the existential possibilities of the subject, possibilities which comprise its historical tradition. I propose to view Heidegger’s concept of the gods as a mytho-poetical thematisation of these basic existential possibilities, and I wish to argue that these possibilities — this tradition — may instead be thematised in terminology more suited to historical and sociological analysis.42 In this regard, it is important to also recall the normative role played by final causes: such causes provide the measure by which practitioners distinguish proper from improper action, thereby giving order and direction to their activities. Hence, to respect the rules governing one’s actions means to respect the existential possibilities comprising one’s shared historical tradition. By respecting these possibilities, as manifest both in one’s own actions as well as in the actions of others, one sustains and gives shape to the tradition. In this way, the subject is its possibilities. Moreover, as being-in-the-world, as one who historically constructs and experiences meaning in the world, the subject also always experiences and pursues its possibilities in conjunction with others, as being-with-others. Meaning-constitutive action is thus, necessarily, both social and historical action, because the source and cause of that action — the subject — is social and historical.

  • 43 Bloor (1997b), Wittgenstein, Rules and Institutions, p. 22.
  • 44 Martin Heidegger (1992 [1982]), Parmenides, trans. by André Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz (Bloomin (...)

46Heidegger’s gods may thus be viewed in terms of the historical possibilities for meaning-constitutive action available to persons who share and sustain a tradition. Furthermore, these possibilities are experienced as more or less compelling. We feel compelled to follow certain possibilities for action, rather than others, because they have normative force for us, because we view them as good rather than bad, proper rather than improper. As I argued above, this feeling of compulsion is the existential condition of possibility for understanding as such. We understand because we can be affected, and thus also guided, by the rules which structure that understanding. As I also argued above, as well as earlier in Chapter Four, according to both Heidegger and SSK, our receptivity to rules, in particular, and a tradition, more broadly, is, at base, a receptivity to each other. As Bloor says, ‘[w]e are compelled by rules in so far as we, collectively, compel one another.’43 Within this phenomenological constellation, which determines the subjectivity of the subject, being-in-the world, being-with-others, and understanding combine with affectivity in order to produce an experience of intelligibility, or cognitive order. Heidegger’s gods are thus a mytho-poetical marker for the affective component of human subjectivity. Indeed, Heidegger describes the gods as providing the basis for ‘every affective disposition [wesentliche Gestimmtheit] from respect and joy to mourning and terror.’44 The affectivity and the sociality of the subject combine in a mutual receptivity which enables it to projectively understand its environment as an ordered world.

47For both Heidegger and SSK, cognitive order is grounded in social order, and social order is, in turn, produced in micro-social interactions between mutually receptive subjects who both compel and defer to one another in (and often by manipulating bits of) a common material environment. We might call this an ‘interactionist theory of normativity,’ in contrast to von Weizsäcker’s cybernetic theory of normativity. The norms governing behaviour are not, finally, to be located in a system, of which each person is a constitutive part, but in the often mundane interactions between persons who, to a greater or lesser extent, share a history and culture. Whether or not these interactions achieve a level of consistency and stability allowing for their reification as a ‘system’ will be a matter for empirical investigation. But, if such were the case, then it would be important to remember that this system is, in fact, a simplification, a reification, a matter of conceptual art and convenience, rather than a fundamental statement about the nature of normativity, much less the ontology of groups.

  • 45 Barry Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory (London: UCL Press), chpt. 3; Barry Barnes (200 (...)
  • 46 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 102.
  • 47 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 103. In a welcome step beyond his earlier work, d (...)

48Interactionism is SSK’s social theory of choice, and has been discussed at length by Barry Barnes.45 An interactionist social theory puts the individual subject at the methodological centre of explanations of social, and thus also of cognitive, order. According to this theory, the subject does not eschew interaction, beating away its neighbours in pursuit of its own autonomy, but instead seeks to interact with them as a matter of natural necessity. This is the sociological equivalent of Heidegger’s claim that being-with-others is a fundamental characteristic of the subjectivity of the subject. A natural disposition to interact with others is, however, not yet an explanation of social order. Barnes argues that this disposition is accompanied by ‘the readiness of the individual to align her cognition with that of others and co-ordinate her activities with theirs.’46 This is an innate orientation towards cooperation with others, but not towards conformity to rules. According to Barnes, a person’s natural gregariousness does not constrain her to a fixed social order, but rather facilitates her participation in a ‘form of life.’47 This is the sociological near equivalent of Heidegger’s claim that being-with-others is a necessary (but not a sufficient) condition of the subject’s being able to make sense of things, to project a space of intelligibility — a world — in which things may be encountered as what they are. Put another way, gregariousness plays a necessary role in revealing, in opening up a world of understanding.

49From this it follows that enframing — homogenous revealing — may be experienced as the opening up of a world within which action becomes possible, rather than as an external constraint on action. However, so Heidegger worries, the existential basis for this freedom to act, its condition of possibility, is ontologically limited. From an interactionist perspective, in such a world, the subject’s natural gregariousness is increasingly guided into an intersubjective alignment of cognition and co-ordinated action which may allow for considerable freedom, but only within a limited cognitive and material domain, a domain in which alternative existential possibilities have been blocked or suppressed. Heidegger’s later work thematises, or topicalises, the phenomenology of this situation. SSK provides the resources by which to explain it.

50On an interactionist account, the homogenising impulse of enframing is to be explained by reference to the micro-social interactions through which enframing is produced and sustained. Enframing does not have a life of its own, existing independently of people, and exercising an external power over them, but must instead be explained reductively in terms of the interactions of those people. As Barnes notes, this methodological point may be difficult to square with immediate personal experience.

  • 48 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 75.

For a single involved individual, norms may still be experienced as having a fixed meaning beyond her own discretion and as pressing on her judgement like an external force. This is just one of many instances of the fact that what is created and controlled collectively may be experienced as given and coercing individually, and what is actually the power of many other people may be experienced individually as a power external to people altogether.48

  • 49 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 112.
  • 50 In a discussion of Heidegger and science studies, Steiner reads the later Heidegger as claiming th (...)

51The basic idea is that enframing ‘does not carry us along but rather […] we carry it along.’49 The same insight may also be applied to systems: the system does not carry us along, we carry it along. We are compelled by the system only insofar as we, collectively, compel one another.50

52On this basis, an interactionist theory of normativity turns a systems theory of normativity on its head. Von Weizsäcker proposed that a systems-theoretic deconstruction and reconstruction of ‘reality’ would yield the ‘fundamental laws’ which govern the ecological conditions of possibility for conceptual thinking. He thus characterised the subject as being carried along in a system whose law-like regularities enable conceptual understanding. The interactionist account reverses this, arguing that the aligned cognition and co-ordinated action — that is, the co-understanding — of subjects may enable a shared experience of the world as a single, integrated system, a coherently organised reality. If a person experiences this world picture as compelling, it is not because the picture itself is compelling, but because the person is aligned with others who deem it a good thing to feel compelled by that picture, and so actively encourage the person to feel so compelled. The community compels the person to feel compelled by the picture. In so doing, the community carries the picture along.

53This attention to feelings of compulsion evinces the deep relationship between co-understanding and co-affectivity. Von Weizsäcker viewed the systems-theoretical reassembly of subjectivity as an ‘obligation.’ For him, the path of science must be pursued to its end. Such statements tell us something about the particular mode of co-affectivity characteristic of von Weizsäcker’s own scientific community. In these final paragraphs, I want to suggest that much exciting work could still be done investigating such modes of scientific co-affectivity.

  • 51 Barry Barnes (1992b), ‘Status Groups and Collective Action,’ Sociology 26(2), 259–70; see also Bar (...)
  • 52 Barnes (1992b), ‘Status Groups and Collective Action,’ pp. 260, 266, 263.

54Here, too, SSK can offer guidance, with Barnes’s interactionist elaboration of Max Weber’s concept of ‘status groups,’ an elaboration which puts at its centre the emotional susceptibility to one another of group members.51 A status group arises when a number of people come together on the basis of a characteristic, or ‘good,’ which they share in common, and which they simultaneously use to exclude from membership those who fail to uphold that good. This dynamic of inclusion and exclusion defines a field of legitimate competition: group members may compete with one another for status within the group, while those excluded are disqualified from such competition. The criterion which determines inclusion in and exclusion from the group will be a matter of historical contingency. However, the dynamic holding group members together, in accordance with the relevant, contingent criterion, is, Barnes suggests, a matter of necessity.52 Indeed, this fundamental dynamic forms the basis of human sociality; it is a necessary characteristic of the subjectivity of the subject, comparable to Heidegger’s being-with-others.

  • 53 Barnes (1992b), ‘Status Groups and Collective Action,’ p. 263.
  • 54 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 72. Cf. Thomas J. Scheff (1988), ‘Shame and Confo (...)
  • 55 Barnes (1992b), ‘Status Groups and Collective Action,’ p. 263.

55Moreover, also in step with Heidegger, Barnes argues that the sociality of the subject necessarily combines with affectivity: ‘we convey to each other signals of praise and blame, approval and disapproval, recognition or rejection, honour or contempt, socially organised to sustain the collective good, and our susceptibility to these signals is what encourages collective action.’ Our conveyance of, and susceptibility to, these signals — our co-affectivity — ‘is the basis of our sociability, and may be taken as given in accounting for any particular manifestation or consequence of that sociability.’53 This is a description of social order in terms of the emotionally infused interaction of individuals who are biologically so predisposed. Barnes credits Thomas Scheff with having ‘systematized’ this description under the rubric of a ‘deference-emotion system.’54 This is an interactive system in which ‘the individual constantly monitors how he or she stands in the eyes of others, and experiences feelings of pride or shame accordingly.’ However, it is difficult to thematise and articulate these interactions: ‘cultural taboos often prohibit explicit recognition of the system in everyday discourse, because the system is everywhere operative and hence not totally under the conscious, calculative control of members themselves.’55 Once we accept the existence of this emotion-based dynamic — including its cognitive importance — then a largely uncharted research area opens itself up for exploration by science studies scholars. This is an opportunity not only to discover new facts about the way science is and has been done, but also to develop new sociological and historiographic methods by which to discover those facts.

  • 56 A natural departure point for this would be Steven Shapin’s work on trust and honour in seventeent (...)

56Status groups are formed and sustained by members’ elicitation of feelings of pride and shame in one another. One’s behaviour will attract deference, on the one hand, or disregard, even disdain, on the other, depending on whether or not it promotes the collective good. This collective good will vary between groups on the basis of their contingent social and historical circumstances. In Chapter Four, we saw that, historically, the idea of the good has played an essential role in organising understanding, enabling intelligibility, by allowing for normative distinctions to be made between epistemically good and bad phenomena. We saw, furthermore, that Heidegger reinterprets Plato’s idea of the good in terms of the for-the-sake-of-which, that is, the existential possibilities available to an engaged subjectivity. In Chapter Six, I read Heidegger as arguing that the collective good around which the subjectivity of seventeenth-century experimental philosophers organised itself was the autonomous First Thing. In the dispute between Robert Boyle and Francis Line, the Galilean First Thing served as the measure according to which Boyle successfully excluded Line from the community of experimentalists. Yet, I said nothing about the emotional dynamics which — on the present account — must have played a fundamental role in this dispute and its resolution. As a consequence, the story remains half-told. More work still needs to be done in order to complete the historical picture.56

57In his later writings, Heidegger argued, with von Weizsäcker’s agreement, that the collective good around which the community of modern physics organises itself is enframing. We should expect, on this argument, that the social interactions of modern physicists will be such that they defer to those who promote enframing and disregard those who do not. This is a sociological conjecture which requires empirical testing in order to determine its truth value. Nevertheless, it suggests an explanation for the difference in attitude between Heidegger and von Weizsäcker vis-à-vis enframing. It suggests that von Weizsäcker’s professed ‘obligation’ to carry the systematisation of natural philosophy through to its end was, tacitly, an affective response to the deference-emotion dynamic characteristic of the status group to which he belonged. By manifesting this feeling of obligation in his behaviour, he showed himself to be an honourable member of his community.

58The later Heidegger, in contrast, by failing to promote enframing, signalled his distance from this community, his relative immunity to its internal emotional dynamic. Indeed, for him, this dynamic, and the collective good it sustains, were a topic, rather than a resource, for investigation. In his earlier work, on which this book has chiefly focussed, Heidegger addresses that topic from the standpoint of a scientific philosophy, employing the methods of phenomenology. Like SSK, he sought, in part, to develop a scientific account of science, an account based on an analysis of the subjectivity of the scientific subject. In this analysis, the deference-emotion dynamic of modern science is treated as the combined result of the subject’s affectivity and its being-with-others — as co-affectivity. The collective good sustained by co-affectivity is, in turn, treated as the combined result of the subject’s understanding, or projectivity, and its being-with-others — as co-understanding. Yet, the collective good can be experienced as ‘good’ only with the support of co-affectivity. Without co-affectivity, by which the collective good is constituted as good, co-understanding will project only an image, absent the normative force necessary for it to be experienced as a compelling image. Hence, on this account, the compelling nature, the goodness, of the mathematical projection of nature, of mathēsis — indeed, of enframing — entails co-affectivity. Without co-affectivity, co-understanding will lack normative weight.

59Inversely, without co-understanding, co-affectivity will lack order and direction. We saw the extreme consequence of this in Chapter Three, with Heidegger’s discussion of anxiety. Anxiety arises in the face of unintelligibility, a global breakdown in meaning, our failure to make sense of, to understand, the things around us. I argued that, in such rare situations, we experience the thing as a thing-in-itself: we know that it is, but not what it is.

  • 57 Heidegger (1962a), Being and Time, p. 231 [186]; translation modified, my brackets. Cf. Martin Heid (...)

60Heidegger argues that the thing in the face of which we feel anxiety is ‘completely indefinite’; it is a thing ‘essentially incapable of having an end-directedness [Bewandtnis].’57 In other words, without the benefit of projectivity, we lack a final cause, an image by which to let things be what they are, by which to get our bearings in the world. Co-understanding gives us a collective image, co-affectivity lends that image normative weight, turning it into a measure. Hence, co-affectivity grounds the normativity of a practice, and co-understanding grounds the intelligibility, or order, of that practice. This reprises a key claim from Chapter Five, that a practice stripped of the final cause which gives it order and direction will amount to no more than random behaviour. Thus, on its own, the deference-emotion dynamic produces only random behaviour, never practice. Only when that dynamic coalesces around and affirms an end, giving that end weight, will it produce collective practice and social order. Enframing, as a normative force, a collective good, is thus constituted, on Heidegger’s account, in the interactive, emotion-infused group dynamic of the modern physics community. By carrying enframing along in this way, the community becomes what it is. Indeed, on this account, every community becomes what it is by so affirming and carrying along the collective good, or goods, which give it its characteristic shape. These are the conditions of possibility for social identity and order as such. The virtue of SSK and Heidegger’s existential conception of science, indeed, the virtue of the two combined, is that they equip us with fundamental tools by which to topicalise and examine those conditions. In so doing, they promise to throw new explanatory light on the workings of society, in general, and the sciences, in particular.

  • 58 Charles Baudelaire (1964 [1863]), ‘The Painter of Modern Life,’ in The Painter of Modern Life and (...)

61The pursuit of this exciting research prospect has been, and will continue to be, met with resistance. Paradoxically, as we have seen, some of the strongest criticism has come from those who themselves promote a practice-based theory of science. For them, a turn to practice entails the rejection of the scientific subject as an explanatory resource. Because SSK practitioners and the early Heidegger do not reject the explanatory importance of the subject, these critics conclude that neither account is compatible with a practice-based theory. As I have argued, this conclusion is false, and the evidence educed in its favour collapses under scrutiny. This suggests that the critics’ motivation may be not so much to champion the practice-based study of science, as to ensure that such studies proceed without critical attention to the contribution of the subject. The subject has not been eliminated in these studies, but suppressed. Hence, subjectivity continues to circulate, tacitly and obscurely, in these practice-based accounts of science, while inquisitive scholars are denied the critical tools by which to address, analyse, and understand its role. To pinch a phrase from Charles Baudelaire, under such circumstances, the scientist — including the social scientist — becomes ‘a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito.’58

62Yet, what good is this incognito? I suggested earlier that the suppression of inquiry into subjectivity may, in effect, grant free licence to an unrestrained constructivity, a subjectivity which knows neither social nor historical limits, even while it remains (perhaps unwittingly) conditioned by those limits. This amounts to a particular conception of human freedom, one challenged by SSK practitioners and the early Heidegger alike, both of whom, as we saw in Chapter Three, emphasise the finitude of human cognition, and so espouse a policy of epistemic humility. We might now say that, in challenging this conception of human freedom, SSK practitioners and the early Heidegger signal their distance from a scholarly community in which that conception has acquired the normative weight of a collective good. Their challenge displays their relative immunity to the deference-emotion dynamic characteristic of that community. But another, deeper observation can also be made. Through the suppression of subjectivity, critical attention is deflected from the emotion-infused interactions by which knowledge is generated and sustained. Indeed, as noted earlier, Barnes argues that ‘cultural taboos’ may prevent explicit recognition of the largely non-deliberative, but nonetheless pervasively present deference-emotion dynamic of a community. These taboos against thematising co-affectivity would seem stronger than similar taboos against thematising co-understanding. With the suppression of subjectivity, co-affectivity seems to have been buried more deeply than co-understanding, perhaps because we are taught that feelings are more private than thoughts. This may help to explain why SSK practitioners and the early Heidegger both give more attention to thinking than to feeling, even as their respective accounts directly challenge this very distinction. As a consequence, the work of both remains incomplete. This is good news for us, as it means there is still much work left to be done. Instead of maintaining the established architecture of a familiar intellectual territory, we have a chance to explore new ground, to build new structures within fresh horizons, to come together around these still largely unarticulated possibilities in our irrepressibly motley social existence.


1 Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1977a), ‘Begegnungen in vier Jahrzehnten,’ in Erinnerung an Martin Heidegger, ed. by Günther Neske (Pfullingen: Verlag Neske), pp. 239–47 (pp. 239–40); my translations.

2 von Weizsäcker (1977a), ‘Begegnungen in vier Jahrzehnten,’ pp. 240–41.

3 Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1990 [1949]), ‘Beziehungen der theoretischen Physik zum Denken Heideggers,’ in Zum Weltbild der Physik, 13th edn, by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (Stuttgart: S. Hirzel Verlag), pp. 243–45 (pp. 244–45); my translations.

4 On the relationship between Heidegger and Heisenberg, see: Cathryn Carson (2010), ‘Science as Instrumental Reason: Heidegger, Habermas, Heisenberg,’ Continental Philosophy Review 42(4), 483–509; Bernard Freydberg (2002), ‘What Becomes of Science in “The Future of Phenomenology”?,’ Research in Phenomenology 32(1), 219–29; Trish Glazebrook (2000a), Heidegger’s Philosophy of Science (New York: Fordham University Press), pp. 247–51; Werner Heisenberg (1959), ‘Grundlegende Voraussetzungen in der Physik der Elementarteilchen,’ in Martin Heidegger zum Siebzigsten Geburtstag. Festschrift, ed. by Günther Neske (Pfullingen: Verlag Günther Neske), pp. 291–97; Werner Heisenberg (1977), ‘Brief an Martin Heidegger zum 80. Geburtstag,’ in Dem Andenken Martin Heideggers. Zum 26. Mai 1976 (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann), pp. 44–45; Hans-Peter Hempel (1990), Natur und Geschichte. Der Jahrhundertdialog zwischen Heidegger und Heisenberg (Frankfurt: Hain); and Hans Seigfried (1990), ‘Autonomy and Quantum Physics: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Heisenberg,’ Philosophy of Science 57(4), 619–30.

5 Martin Heidegger (1962a [1927]), Being and Time, trans. by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (Oxford: Blackwell), p. 155 [118]. (Following scholarly convention, page numbers in square brackets refer to the original 1927 German edition of Being and Time.) Cf. Heidegger (1962a), Being and Time, p. 163 [125]: ‘So far as Dasein is, it has Being-with-one-another as its kind of Being.’

6 David Bloor (1997b), Wittgenstein, Rules and Institutions (London: Routledge), p. 22.

7 Heidegger (1962a), Being and Time, p. 205 [162]; translation modified.

8 Heidegger (1962a), Being and Time, pp. 182 [143], 173 [134].

9 Martin Heidegger (1977b [1954]), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, by Martin Heidegger, trans. by William Lovitt (New York: Harper & Row), pp. 3–35 (pp. 22, 21); my brackets. Cf. Martin Heidegger (1954a), ‘Die Frage nach der Technik,’ in Vorträge und Aufsätze, by Martin Heidegger (Pfullingen: Verlag Günther Neske), pp. 9–40 (p. 25).

10 Heidegger (1954a), ‘Die Frage nach der Technik,’ p. 24. Cf. Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 21.

11 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 21.

12 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 19. In ordinary usage, Gestell usually means ‘frame,’ ‘rack,’ or ‘shelf.’

13 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 10.

14 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 21.

15 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 11.

16 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ pp. 16, 19.

17 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 30.

18 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 22.

19 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 33.

20 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 33.

21 Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ pp. 35, 33. Andrew Feenberg has developed Heidegger’s suggestion that the fine arts may facilitate resistance to enframing (Andrew Feenberg (2005), Heidegger and Marcuse: The Catastrophe and Redemption of History (London: Routledge). I have critiqued Feenberg’s proposal from an SSK perspective (Jeff Kochan (2006), ‘Feenberg and STS: Counter-Reflections on Bridging the Gap,’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 37(4): 702–20). Feenberg has responded to this criticism (Andrew Feenberg (2006), ‘Symmetry, Asymmetry, and the Real Possibility of Radical Change: A Reply to Kochan,’ Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 37(4), 721–27). Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch have thrown their hats into the debate as well (Harry M. Collins and Trevor Pinch (2007), ‘Who Is to Blame for the Challenger Explosion?,’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 38(1), 254–55). Wiebe Bijker and Trevor Pinch cite this exchange as exemplifying debates over whether SSK (and its offshoot, the social construction of technological systems, or SCOTS) provide grounds for a political critique of science and technology (Wiebe E. Bijker and Trevor Pinch (2012), ‘Preface to the Anniversary Edition,’ in The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in Sociology and History of Technology (25th Anniversary Edition), ed. by Wiebe E. Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes and Trevor Pinch (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), pp. xi–xxxiv (p. xxvii n. 3)).

22 For my part, I have responded to Latour’s Heideggeresque claim that modern science ‘transform[s] society into a vast laboratory’ by arguing that the field sciences offer an alternative model, one contrary to the epistemic imperialism implicit in Latour’s laboratory model (Bruno Latour (1983), ‘Give Me a Laboratory and I Will Raise the World,’ in Science Observed: Perspectives on the Social Study of Science, ed. by Karin D. Knorr-Cetina and Michael Mulkay (London: SAGE), pp. 141–70 (p. 166)). I gloss the subjectivity of this alternative in terms of ‘epistemic neighbourliness’ (Jeff Kochan (2015d), ‘Objective Styles in Northern Field Science,’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 52, 1–12).

23 Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ in Der Garten des Menschlichen: Beiträge zur geschichtlichen Anthropologie, by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag), pp. 413–31 (pp. 431, 413–14, 427); my translations.

24 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 431.

25 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 431.

26 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 429.

27 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 431.

28 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ p. 429.

29 von Weizsäcker (1977b), ‘Heidegger und die Naturwissenschaft,’ pp. 428, 429.

30 Martin Heidegger (1993c [1969]), ‘The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,’ trans. by Joan Stambaugh, in Basic Writings, revised and expanded edn, by Martin Heidegger, ed. by David Farrell Krell (New York: HarperCollins), pp. 431–49 (p. 434); my brackets. Cf. Martin Heidegger (1969), ‘Das Ende der Philosophie und die Aufgabe des Denkens,’ in Zur Sache des Denkens, by Martin Heidegger (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag), pp. 61–80 (p. 64).

31 Heidegger (1993c [1969]), ‘The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,’ p. 64.

32 Heidegger, Martin (1987/88), ‘Brief an Jean Beaufret/Letter to Jean Beaufret,’ trans. by Steven Davis, Heidegger Studies 3/4, 3–6 (p. 5). Similar statements about cybernetics may also be found in Martin Heidegger (1998), ‘Traditional Language and Technological Language,’ trans. by Wanda Torres Gregory, Journal of Philosophical Research 23, 129–45.

33 Andrew Pickering consistently obscures Heidegger’s identification of enframing with homogenous revealing, first by claiming that Heidegger actually draws a sharp distinction between the two, and then by identifying enframing with ‘asymmetric domination’ and revealing with ‘performative and open-ended dances of agency’ (Andrew Pickering (2009), ‘The Politics of Theory: Producing Another World, With Some Thoughts on Latour,’ Journal of Cultural Economy 2(1/2), 197–212 (pp. 205, 204)). On this infelicitous base, Pickering introduces labels for two distinct kinds of cybernetics: ‘authoritarian enframing,’ on the one hand, and ‘liberal democratic revealing,’ on the other (Andrew Pickering (2010), The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), passim). He then promotes the second as a politically attractive alternative to the first. This uneven conceptual terrain makes it difficult to properly address, in a short space, the relation of Pickering’s account to the present discussion. Suffice to observe that, whatever the attractions of Pickering’s alternative, his description of liberal-democratic cybernetics as the ‘levelling of power relations’ and the placement of all subjects ‘metaphysically […] on a single and level playing field’ seems to suggest the homogenous revealing of enframing (Pickering (2010), The Cybernetic Brain, pp. 384, 393). On this view, swapping one uniform political blueprint for another, whatever the benefit, reshuffles the deck of enframing rather than rejects it. Note that the distinction between authoritarian and democratic technology has a long history in technology studies (Andrew Feenberg (1992), ‘Subversive Rationalization: Technology, Power, and Democracy,’ Inquiry 35(3/4), 301–22; Otto Mayr (1986), Authority, Liberty & Automatic Machinery in Early Modern Europe (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press); Lewis Mumford (1964), ‘Authoritarian and Democratic Technics,’ Technology and Culture 5(1), 1–8; and Langdon Winner (1980), ‘Do Artifacts Have Politics?,’ Daedalus 109(1), 121–36). Carol Steiner has staged an imaginary dialogue between Pickering and Heidegger (Carol J. Steiner (2008), ‘Ontological Dance: A Dialogue between Heidegger and Pickering,’ in The Mangle in Practice: Science, Society, and Becoming, ed. by Andrew Pickering and Keith Guzik (Durham: Duke University Press), pp. 243–65).

34 Mayr notes that the idea that the ‘discord of individuals […] contribute[s] to a concord of the whole’ was already much discussed in the seventeenth century, but only acquired an adequate explanation a century later with the concept of the self-regulating system (Mayr (1986), Authority, Liberty & Automatic Machinery, p. 185). According to Mayr, ‘[w]hat won the concept such popularity was its promise of linking the values of equilibrium and liberty’ (p. 188). The concept would reach full development only in the twentieth century, with the arrival of cybernetics theory (p. 187).

35 See Martin Heidegger (1971b [1954]), ‘The Thing,’ in Poetry, Language, Thought, by Martin Heidegger, trans. by Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper & Row), pp. 165–86. The audience for the two lectures was the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. In fact, earlier versions of both lectures were presented together, on the same day, in 1948, to the Club at Bremen. See the introductory note in Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Thing,’ pp. ix–x.

36 Heidegger (1971b), ‘The Thing,’ p. 177.

37 Heidegger (1971b), ‘The Thing,’ p. 181. Cf. the original German: ‘Das Ding verweilt das Geviert. Das Ding dingt Welt’ (Martin Heidegger (1954b), ‘Das Ding,’ in Vorträge und Aufsätze, by Martin Heidegger (Pfullingen: Verlag Günther Neske), pp. 157–79 (p. 173)). The normally intransitive verb verweilen is put to unconventional transitive use in this passage, thus exacerbating attempts at translation. In this context, the word also suggests ‘temporalises’ and, translating more freely, ‘harbours.’

38 Heidegger (1954b), ‘Das Ding,’ pp. 158–66; my translations. Cf. Heidegger (1971b), ‘The Thing,’ pp. 166–74.

39 Heidegger (1954b), ‘Das Ding,’ p. 165. Cf. Heidegger (1971b), ‘The Thing,’ p. 173.

40 Heidegger (1954a), ‘Die Frage nach der Technik,’ p. 13; my translation. Cf. Heidegger (1977b), ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ p. 8.

41 Indeed, as Miles Burnyeat has shown, the paradox of the heap has been also used to undermine the attempted rationalisation of conceptions of the gods (Miles F. Burnyeat (1982), ‘Gods and Heaps,’ in Language and Logos, ed. by Malcolm Schofeld and Martha Craven Nussbaum (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 315–38). Note, also, Heidegger’s 1962 comment that ‘a poem does not […] let itself be programmed’ (Heidegger (1998), ‘Traditional Language and Technological Language,’ p. 141).

42 For arguments that Heidegger’s concept of the gods can be reinterpreted in sociological terms, see: Jeff Kochan (2010b), ‘Latour’s Heidegger,’ Social Studies of Science 40(4), 579–98 (p. 592); Charles Spinosa (2000), ‘Heidegger on Living Gods,’ in Heidegger, Coping, and Cognitive Science: Essays in Honor of Hubert L. Dreyfus, ed. by Mark A. Wrathall and Jeff Malpas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 209–28 (p. 216); and Julian Young (2006), ‘The Fourfold,’ in The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger, 2nd edn, ed. by Charles B. Guignon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 373–92 (p. 375).

43 Bloor (1997b), Wittgenstein, Rules and Institutions, p. 22.

44 Martin Heidegger (1992 [1982]), Parmenides, trans. by André Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), p. 106, my brackets. Cf. Martin Heidegger (1982b), Parmenides (Gesamtausgabe, vol. 54) (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann), p. 157.

45 Barry Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory (London: UCL Press), chpt. 3; Barry Barnes (2001), ‘Practice as Collective Action,’ in The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory, ed. by Theodore R. Schatzki, Karin Knorr Cetina and Eike von Savigny (London: Routledge).

46 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 102.

47 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 103. In a welcome step beyond his earlier work, discussed in Chapter Two, Joseph Rouse now defends an account of normative practice which appears, in its essentials, very similar to Barnes’s older and sociologically more detailed account: ‘a practice is […] held together by the interactions among its constitutive performances’ (Joseph Rouse (2015), Articulating the World: Conceptual Understanding and the Scientific Image (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), p. 163). Note, however, Rouse’s reference to interacting performances, not performers, a difference in focus reflecting his continuing attempt to neutralise the subject as an explanatory resource. It is a small intellectual tragedy that Rouse’s earlier misreading of SSK should now blind him to the benefits of positively enrolling SSK in the elaboration of his own interactionist theory of normativity.

48 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 75.

49 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 112.

50 In a discussion of Heidegger and science studies, Steiner reads the later Heidegger as claiming that ‘when we understand Being as the nil source of our knowledge, […] then what we know is no longer under our control. […] All that remains to move on to the path to primordial Being is to embrace the mystery’ (Carol J. Steiner (1999), ‘Constructive Science and Technology Studies: On the Path to Being?,’ Social Studies of Science 29(4), 583–616 (p. 589)). I will reserve judgement on whether this fairly represents Heidegger’s later views. My task here is to use SSK to demystify explanations of this kind, a task I view as compatible with Heidegger’s earlier work.

51 Barry Barnes (1992b), ‘Status Groups and Collective Action,’ Sociology 26(2), 259–70; see also Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, chpt. 5. Cf. Max Weber (1968), Economy and Society, trans. by Günther Roth and Claus Wittich (Berkeley: University of California Press). Note that there is an established and growing body of literature addressing the topics of scientific emotion, in particular, and epistemic emotion, more generally. See the Appendix at the end of this chapter for an incomplete overview (p. 381).

52 Barnes (1992b), ‘Status Groups and Collective Action,’ pp. 260, 266, 263.

53 Barnes (1992b), ‘Status Groups and Collective Action,’ p. 263.

54 Barnes (1995), The Elements of Social Theory, p. 72. Cf. Thomas J. Scheff (1988), ‘Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System,’ American Sociological Review 53(3), 395–406. Both Barnes and Scheff acknowledge their debt in this context to Goffman’s work on ‘interaction rituals’ (Erving Goffman (1967), Interaction Ritual (New York: Anchor)).

55 Barnes (1992b), ‘Status Groups and Collective Action,’ p. 263.

56 A natural departure point for this would be Steven Shapin’s work on trust and honour in seventeenth-century experimental philosophy (Steven Shapin (1994), A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press)). See also Steven Shapin (2012), ‘The Sciences of Subjectivity,’ Social Studies of Science 42(2), 170–84, and a discussion thereof in Kochan (2013), ‘Subjectivity and Emotion in Scientific Research.’

57 Heidegger (1962a), Being and Time, p. 231 [186]; translation modified, my brackets. Cf. Martin Heidegger (1927), Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag), p. 186.

58 Charles Baudelaire (1964 [1863]), ‘The Painter of Modern Life,’ in The Painter of Modern Life and Others Essays, by Charles Baudelaire, trans. by Jonathan Mayne (London: Phaidon Press), pp. 1–40 (p. 9).


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