This book explores two disparate sets of debates in the history and philosophy of the life sciences: the history of subjectivity in shaping objective science and the history of dominance of reductionism in molecular biology. It questions the dominant conception of the scientist-subject as a neo-Kantian ideal self – that is, the scientist as a unified and wilful, self-determined, self-regulated, active and autonomous, rational subject wilfully driven by social and scientific ethos – in favour of a narrative that shows how the microcosm of reductionism is sustained, adopted, questioned, or challenged in the creative struggles of the scientist-subject.
The author covers a century-long history of the concept of the gene as a series of "pioneering moments" through an engagement with life-writings of eminent scientists to show how their ways of being and belonging relate with the making of the science. The scientist-self is theorized as fundamentally a feeling, experiencing, and suffering subject split between the conscious and unconscious and constitutive of personality aspects that are emotional/psychological, "situated" (cultural and ideological), metaphysical, intersubjective, and existential at the same time.
An engaging interdisciplinary interpretation of the dominance of reductionism in genetic science, this book will be of major interest to scholars and researchers of science, history, and philosophy alike.
"Esha Shah richly demonstrates how the 'ways of being and belonging' affect the 'structures' of rational cognition and how the method and philosophy of reductionism stand determined by 'affective' scientific self. Drawing widely on the history of science, auto/biographies, psychoanalysis, and metaphysics, she shows how preference for unity and order, fascination for immortality, and love of complexity have shaped the scientific estate. The bonds of love often overcome the hegemony of gene. This is an incredible feat of feminist social epistemology and a sustained provocation to historiographical doxa." Upendra Baxi, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Warwick, UK, and University of Delhi, India
1. Introduction: Affective History of the Gene 2. Who is the Scientist-Subject? A Critique of the Neo-Kantian Scientist-Subject in Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison’s Objectivity 3. Immortality Ideologies and the Particulate Gene: H. J. Muller 4. What is Life? Placed in Erwin Schrodinger’s Life 5. The Myth and Truth of Barbara McClintock 6. Rosalind Franklin and her Science-in-the-making: A Situated, Sexual and Existential Portrait 7. The Ultra-Contemporary Self and Hyper-Reductionism of Human Genome Science: Craig Venter 8. Conclusion
There is little doubt that science and technology are the most influential agents of global circulation of cultures. Science & Technology Studies (STS) is a well-established discipline that has for some time challenged simplistic understanding of science and technology (S&T) by drawing on perspectives from history, philosophy and sociology. However, an asymmetry between ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ cultures continues, not only in the production of new S&T but also in their analysis. At the same time, these cultures which have little contribution to the understanding of S&T are also becoming their dominant consumers. More importantly, S&T are themselves getting modified through the interaction with the historical, cultural and philosophical worldviews of the non-western cultures and this is creating new spaces for the interpretation and application of S&T. This series aims to take into account these perspectives and set right this global imbalance by promoting monographs and edited volumes which analyse S&T from multicultural and comparative perspectives.