When theater and related forms of live performance explore the borderlands labeled animal and autism, they both reflect and affect their audiences’ understanding of what it means to be human. Affect, Animals, and Autists maps connections across performances that question the borders of the human whose neurodiverse experiences have been shaped by the diagnostic label of autism, and animal-human performance relationships that dispute and blur anthropocentric edges.
By analyzing specific structures of affect with the vocabulary of emotions, Marla Carlson builds upon the conception of affect articulated by psychologist Silvan Tomkins. The book treats a diverse selection of live performance and archival video and analyzes the ways in which they affect their audiences. The range of performances includes commercially successful productions such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse, and The Lion King as well as to the more avant-garde and experimental theater created by Robert Wilson and Christopher Knowles, Back to Back Theatre, Elevator Repair Service, Pig Iron Theatre, and performance artist Deke Weaver.
How can literary imagination help us engage with the lives of other animals? The question represents one of the liveliest areas of inquiry in the humanities, and Mark Payne seeks to answer it by exploring the relationship between human beings and other animals in writings from antiquity to the present. Ranging from ancient Greek poets to modernists like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, Payne considers how writers have used verse to communicate the experience of animal suffering, created analogies between human and animal societies, and imagined the kind of knowledge that would be possible if human beings could see themselves as animals see them.
The Animal Part also makes substantial contributions to the emerging discourse of the posthumanities. Payne offers detailed accounts of the tenuousness of the idea of the human in ancient literature and philosophy and then goes on to argue that close reading must remain a central practice of literary study if posthumanism is to articulate its own prehistory. For it is only through fine-grained literary interpretation that we can recover the poetic thinking about animals that has always existed alongside philosophical constructions of the human. In sum, The Animal Part marks a breakthrough in animal studies and offers a significant contribution to comparative poetics.
In Beyond Prejudice, Evelyn B. Pluhar defends the view that any sentient conative being—one capable of caring about what happens to him or herself—is morally significant, a view that supports the moral status and rights of many nonhuman animals. Confronting traditional and contemporary philosophical arguments, she offers in clear and accessible fashion a thorough examination of theories of moral significance while decisively demonstrating the flaws in the arguments of those who would avoid attributing moral rights to nonhumans. Exposing the traditional view—which restricts the moral realm to autonomous, fully fledged "persons"—as having horrific implications for the treatment of many humans, Pluhar goes on to argue positively that sentient individuals of any species are no less morally significant than the most automomous human. Her position provides the ultimate justification that is missing from previous defenses of the moral status of nonhuman animals. In the process of advancing her position, Pluhar discusses the implications of determining moral significance for children and "abnormal" humans as well as its relevance to population policies, the raising of animals for food or product testing, decisions on hunting and euthanasia, and the treatment of companion animals. In addition, the author scrutinizes recent assertions by environmental ethicists that all living things or that natural objects and ecosystems be considered highly morally significant. This powerful book of moral theory challenges all defenders of the moral status quo—which decrees that animals decidedly do not count—to reevaluate their convictions.
As the world economy becomes increasingly integrated, companies can shift production to wherever wages are lowest and unions weakest. How can workers defend their rights in an era of mobile capital? With national governments forced to compete for foreign investment by rolling back legal protections for workers, fair trade advocates are enlisting consumers to put market pressure on companies to treat their workers fairly. In Beyond the Boycott, sociologist Gay Seidman asks whether this non-governmental approach can reverse the "race to the bottom" in global labor standards. Beyond the Boycott examines three campaigns in which activists successfully used the threat of a consumer boycott to pressure companies to accept voluntary codes of conduct and independent monitoring of work sites. The voluntary Sullivan Code required American corporations operating in apartheid-era South Africa to improve treatment of their workers; in India, the Rugmark inspection team provides 'social labels' for handknotted carpets made without child labor; and in Guatemala, COVERCO monitors conditions in factories producing clothing under contract for major American brands. Seidman compares these cases to explore the ingredients of successful campaigns, as well as the inherent limitations facing voluntary monitoring schemes. Despite activists' emphasis on educating individual consumers to support ethical companies, Seidman finds that, in practice, they have been most successful when they mobilized institutions—such as universities, churches, and shareholder organizations. Moreover, although activists tend to dismiss states' capabilities, all three cases involved governmental threats of trade sanctions against companies and countries with poor labor records. Finally, Seidman points to an intractable difficulty of independent workplace monitoring: since consumers rarely distinguish between monitoring schemes and labels, companies can hand pick monitoring organizations, selecting those with the lowest standards for working conditions and the least aggressive inspections. Transnational consumer movements can increase the bargaining power of the global workforce, Seidman argues, but they cannot replace national governments or local campaigns to expand the meaning of citizenship. As trade and capital move across borders in growing volume and with greater speed, civil society and human rights movements are also becoming more global. Highly original and thought-provoking, Beyond the Boycott vividly depicts the contemporary movement to humanize globalization—its present and its possible future. A Volume in the American Sociological Association's Rose Series in Sociology
In Biocultural Creatures, Samantha Frost brings feminist and political theory together with findings in the life sciences to recuperate the category of the human for politics. Challenging the idea of human exceptionalism as well as other theories of subjectivity that rest on a distinction between biology and culture, Frost proposes that humans are biocultural creatures who quite literally are cultured within the material, social, and symbolic worlds they inhabit. Through discussions about carbon, the functions of cell membranes, the activity of genes and proteins, the work of oxygen, and the passage of time, Frost recasts questions about the nature of matter, identity, and embodiment. In doing so, she elucidates the imbrication of the biological and cultural within the corporeal self. In remapping the relation of humans to their habitats and arriving at the idea that humans are biocultural creatures, Frost provides new theoretical resources for responding to political and environmental crises and for thinking about how to transform the ways we live.
The Comparative Anatomy and Histology of the Cerebellum was first published in 1972. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
This is the third and final volume of the late Dr. Larsell's definitive work on the cerebellum, brought to completion for publication by Dr. Jansen. Two additional contributing authors for this volume are Enrico Mugnaini, M.D., and Helge K. Korneliussen, M.D.
The first section of this volume deals with the morphology of the human cerebellum. The morphogenetic development, the fissure formation, and the differentiation of the cerebellar lobules are described in detail, and followed by a comprehensive account of the adult cerebellum, its lobes and lobules. It is shown that the ten major lobules which Dr. Larsell distinguished in other mammals are recognizable also in man.
Chapters on the cerebellum connections include detailed accounts of all afferent and efferent cerebellar tracts. A subsequent chapter, by Drs. Jansen and Korneliussen, is devoted to the fundamental plan of cerebellar organization. The final chapters, by Dr. Mugnaini, deal with the histology and cytology of the cerebellar cortex. A comprehensive account is given of electron micrographs, a virtual atlas of the ultrastructure of the cerebellar cortex, illustrate the description.
What might become of anthropology if it were to suspend its sometime claims to be a social science? What if it were to turn instead to exploring its affinities with art and literature as a mode of engaged creative practice carried forward in a world heterogeneously composed of humans and other than humans? Stuart McLean claims that anthropology stands to learn most from art and literature not as “evidence” to support explanations based on an appeal to social context or history but as modes of engagement with the materiality of expressive media—including language—that always retain the capacity to disrupt or exceed the human projects enacted through them.
At once comparative in scope and ethnographically informed, Fictionalizing Anthropology draws on an eclectic range of sources, including ancient Mesopotamian myth, Norse saga literature, Hesiod, Lucretius, Joyce, Artaud, and Lispector, as well as film, multimedia, and performance art, along with the concept of “fabulation” (the making of fictions capable of intervening in and transforming reality) developed in the writings of Bergson and Deleuze. Sharing with proponents of anthropology’s recent “ontological turn,” McLean insists that experiments with language and form are a performative means of exploring alternative possibilities of collective existence, new ways of being human and other than human, and that such experiments must therefore be indispensable to anthropology’s engagement with the contemporary world.
Habeas Viscus focuses attention on the centrality of race to notions of the human. Alexander G. Weheliye develops a theory of "racializing assemblages," taking race as a set of sociopolitical processes that discipline humanity into full humans, not-quite-humans, and nonhumans. This disciplining, while not biological per se, frequently depends on anchoring political hierarchies in human flesh. The work of the black feminist scholars Hortense Spillers and Sylvia Wynter is vital to Weheliye's argument. Particularly significant are their contributions to the intellectual project of black studies vis-à-vis racialization and the category of the human in western modernity. Wynter and Spillers configure black studies as an endeavor to disrupt the governing conception of humanity as synonymous with white, western man. Weheliye posits black feminist theories of modern humanity as useful correctives to the "bare life and biopolitics discourse" exemplified by the works of Giorgio Agamben and Michel Foucault, which, Weheliye contends, vastly underestimate the conceptual and political significance of race in constructions of the human. Habeas Viscus reveals the pressing need to make the insights of black studies and black feminism foundational to the study of modern humanity.
History, the Human, and the World Between is a philosophical investigation of the human subject and its simultaneous implication in multiple and often contradictory ways of knowing. The eminent postcolonial theorist R. Radhakrishnan argues that human subjectivity is always constituted “between”: between subjective and objective, temporality and historicity, being and knowing, the ethical and the political, nature and culture, the one and the many, identity and difference, experience and system. In this major study, he suggests that a reconstituted phenomenology has a crucial role to play in mediating between generic modes of knowledge production and an experiential return to life. Keenly appreciative of poststructuralist critiques of phenomenology, Radhakrishnan argues that there is still something profoundly vulnerable at stake in the practice of phenomenology.
Radhakrishnan develops his rationale of the “between” through three linked essays where he locates the terms “world,” “history,” “human,” and “subject” between phenomenology and poststructuralism, and in the process sets forth a nuanced reading of the politics of a gendered postcolonial humanism. Critically juxtaposing the works of thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Adrienne Rich, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, David Harvey, and Ranajit Guha, Radhakrishnan examines the relationship between systems of thought and their worldly situations. History, the Human, and the World Between is a powerful argument for a theoretical perspective that combines the existential urgency of phenomenology with the discursive rigor of poststructuralist practices.
Two summers ago, scientists removed a tiny piece of flesh from Philip Ball’s arm and turned it into a rudimentary “mini-brain.” The skin cells, removed from his body, did not die but were instead transformed into nerve cells that independently arranged themselves into a dense network and communicated with each other, exchanging the raw signals of thought. This was life—but whose?
In his most mind-bending book yet, Ball makes that disconcerting question the focus of a tour through what scientists can now do in cell biology and tissue culture. He shows how these technologies could lead to tailor-made replacement organs for when ours fail, to new medical advances for repairing damage and assisting conception, and to new ways of “growing a human.” For example, it might prove possible to turn skin cells not into neurons but into eggs and sperm, or even to turn oneself into the constituent cells of embryos. Such methods would also create new options for gene editing, with all the attendant moral dilemmas. Ball argues that such advances can therefore never be about “just the science,” because they come already surrounded by a host of social narratives, preconceptions, and prejudices. But beyond even that, these developments raise questions about identity and self, birth and death, and force us to ask how mutable the human body really is—and what forms it might take in years to come.
Amanda Rees and Charlotte Sleigh Reaktion Books, 2020
What does it mean to be human? And what, if anything, does it have to do with being a member of the animal species Homo sapiens? This dazzling book gets to the very heart of our rather unscientific motivations and prejudices, showing how they are of great use in resolving the world’s biggest problems. From beasts to aliens, this book explores widely discussed but often problematic links between humans and six other beings, tackling deep philosophical questions including humanity’s common purpose, life’s meaning, and what it means to be accepted as part of a community. Global in its outlook and illustrated with stunning pictures, Human is a powerful, funny, and iconoclastic antidote to post-humanism.
From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, new anatomical investigations of the brain and the nervous system, together with a renewed interest in comparative anatomy, allowed doctors and philosophers to ground their theories on sense perception, the emergence of human intelligence, and the soul/body relationship in modern science. They investigated the anatomical structures and the physiological processes underlying the rise, differentiation, and articulation of human cognitive activities, and looked for the “anatomical roots” of the specificity of human intelligence when compared to other forms of animal sensibility.
This edited volume focuses on medical and philosophical debates on human intelligence and animal perception in the early modern age, providing fresh insights into the influence of medical discourse on the rise of modern philosophical anthropology. Contributions from distinguished historians of philosophy and medicine focus on sixteenth-century zoological, psychological, and embryological discourses on man; the impact of mechanism and comparative anatomy on philosophical conceptions of body and soul; and the key status of sensibility in the medical and philosophical enlightenment.
Turning an anthropological eye toward cyberspace, Human No More explores how conditions of the online world shape identity, place, culture, and death within virtual communities.
Online worlds have recently thrown into question the traditional anthropological conception of place-based ethnography. They break definitions, blur distinctions, and force us to rethink the notion of the "subject." Human No More asks how digital cultures can be integrated and how the ethnography of both the "unhuman" and the "digital" could lead to possible reconfiguring the notion of the "human."
This provocative and groundbreaking work challenges fundamental assumptions about the entire field of anthropology. Cross-disciplinary research from well-respected contributors makes this volume vital to the understanding of contemporary human interaction. It will be of interest not only to anthropologists but also to students and scholars of media, communication, popular culture, identity, and technology.
Medical professionals are often viewed as a special breed of stoic figures whose tough grace allows them to stay strong as they confront human frailty and tragedy on a daily basis. Human is a new anthology that aims to dispel this unhelpful line of thought, revealing a more realistic picture of individuals shaped by forces—good and bad—just like the rest of us. Collecting writing from medical students around the world, Human aims to demystify medical education by showing the vulnerability in a group typically viewed as indestructible. It also seeks to remind medical trainees that, even though it may feel like their lives have been put on hold for the sake of their education, they are continually growing and evolving, and as worthy of love and a full life as anyone else—in short, that they are human.
Fire-breathing dragons, beautiful mermaids, majestic unicorns, terrifying three-headed dogs—these fantastic creatures have long excited our imagination. Medieval authors placed them in the borders of manuscripts as markers of the boundaries of our understanding. Tales from around the world place these beasts in deserts, deep woods, remote islands, ocean depths, and alternate universes—just out of our reach. And in the sections on the apocalypse in the Bible, they proliferate as the end of time approaches, with horses with heads like lions, dragons, and serpents signaling the destruction of the world.
Legends tell us that imaginary animals belong to a primordial time, before everything in the world had names, categories, and conceptual frameworks. In this book, Boria Sax digs into the stories of these fabulous beasts. He shows how, despite their liminal role, imaginary animals like griffins, dog-men, yetis, and more are socially constructed creatures, created through the same complex play of sensuality and imagination as real ones. Tracing the history of imaginary animals from Paleolithic art to their roles in stories such as Harry Potter and even the advent of robotic pets, he reveals that these extraordinary figures help us psychologically—as monsters, they give form to our amorphous fears, while as creatures of wonder, they embody our hopes. Their greatest service, Sax concludes, is to continually challenge our imaginations, directing us beyond the limitations of conventional beliefs and expectations.
Featuring over 230 illustrations of a veritable menagerie of fantastical and unreal beasts, Imaginary Animals is a feast for the eyes and the imagination.
Humanity’s creative capacity has never been more unsettling than it is at our current moment, when it has ushered us into new technological worlds that challenge the very definition of “the human.” Those anxious to safeguard the human against techno-scientific threats often appeal to religious traditions to protect the place and dignity of the human. But how well do we understand both theological tradition and today’s technological culture? In The Indiscrete Image, Thomas A. Carlson challenges our common ideas about both, arguing instead that it may be humanity’s final lack of definition that first enables, and calls for, human creativity and its correlates—including technology, tradition, and their inextricable interplay within religious existence.
Framed in response to Martin Heidegger’s influential account of the relation between technological modernity and theological tradition, The Indiscrete Image builds an understanding of creativity as conditioned by insurmountable unknowing and incalculable possibility through alternative readings of Christian theological tradition and technological culture—and the surprising resonance between these two. Carlson concludes that the always ongoing work of world creation, tied essentially to human self-creation, implies neither an idol’s closure nor an icon’s transcendence, but the “indiscrete image” whose love makes possible—by keeping open—both the human and its world.
Context and situation always matter in both human and animal lives. Unique insights can be gleaned from conducting scientific studies from within human communities and animal habitats. Inside Science is a novel treatment of this distinctive mode of fieldwork. Robert E. Kohler illuminates these resident practices through close analyses of classic studies: of Trobriand Islanders, Chicago hobos, corner boys in Boston’s North End, Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees of the Gombe Stream Reserve, and more. Intensive firsthand observation; a preference for generalizing from observed particulars, rather than from universal principles; and an ultimate framing of their results in narrative form characterize these inside stories from the field.
Resident observing takes place across a range of sciences, from anthropology and sociology to primatology, wildlife ecology, and beyond. What makes it special, Kohler argues, is the direct access it affords scientists to the contexts in which their subjects live and act. These scientists understand their subjects not by keeping their distance but by living among them and engaging with them in ways large and small. This approach also demonstrates how science and everyday life—often assumed to be different and separate ways of knowing—are in fact overlapping aspects of the human experience. This story-driven exploration is perfect for historians, sociologists, and philosophers who want to know how scientists go about making robust knowledge of nature and society.
Although the two great commandments to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves are central to Christianity, few theologians or spiritual writers have undertaken an extensive account of the meaning and forms of these loves. Most accounts, in fact, make love of God and love of self either impossible or immoral. Integrating these two commandments, Edward Vacek, SJ, develops an original account of love as the theological foundation for Christian ethics.
Vacek criticizes common understandings of agape, eros, and philia, examining the arguments of Aquinas, Nygren, Outka, Rahner, Scheler, and other theologians and philosophers. He defines love as an emotional, affirmative participation in the beloved's real and ideal goodness, and he extends this definition to the love between God and self. Vacek proposes that the heart of Christian moral life is loving cooperation with God in a mutually perfecting friendship.
The lives of animals in Russia are intrinsically linked to cultural, political and psychological transformations of the Imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet eras. Other Animals examines the interaction of animals and humans in Russian literature, art, and life from the eighteenth century until the present. The chapters probe a range of human-animal relationships through tales of cruelty, interspecies communion and compassion, and efforts to either overcome or establish the human-animal divide. These essays also explore the unique nature of the Russian experience in this regard.
Four themes run through the volume: the prevalence of animals in utopian visions; the ways in which Russians have both incorporated and sometimes challenged Western sensibilities and practices, such as the humane treatment of animals and the inclusion of animals in urban domestic life; the quest to identify and at times exploit the physiological basis of human and animal behavior and the ideological implications of these practices; and the breakdown of traditional human-animal hierarchies and categories during times of revolutionary upheaval, social transformation, or disintegration.
From failed Soviet attempts to transplant the semi-nomadic Sami and their reindeer herds onto collective farms, to performance artist Oleg Kulik’s scandalous portrayal of Pavlov’s dogs as a parody of the Soviet “new man,” to novelist Tatyana Tolstaya’s post-cataclysmic future world of hybrid animal species and their disaffection from the past, Other Animals presents a completely new perspective on Russian and Soviet history. It also offers a fascinating look into the Russian psyche as seen through human interactions with animals.
‘Panarchy’ is a new term coined from the name of the Greek god Pan, a symbol of universal nature and associated with unpredictable change. It represents an alternative framework for managing the issues that emerge from the interaction between people and nature. That interaction generates countless surprises, often the result of slow changes that can accumulate and unexpectedly flip an ecosystem or an economy into a qualitatively different state. That state may be not only impoverished, but also effectively irreversible. Thus, understanding how such change occurs is critical to achieving a sustainable society. Developed from the work of the Resilience Alliance, a worldwide group of leading organizations and individuals involved in ecological and economic research, Panarchy provides a framework to understand the cycles of change in complex systems and to gauge if, when, and how they can be influenced. This synopsis introduces lay readers and decision makers to this widely acclaimed line of inquiry and to the basic concept behind Panarchy, published by Island Press.
Creating institutions to meet the challenge of sustainability is arguably the most important task confronting society; it is also dauntingly complex. Ecological, economic, and social elements all play a role, but despite ongoing efforts, researchers have yet to succeed in integrating the various disciplines in a way that gives adequate representation to the insights of each.Panarchy, a term devised to describe evolving hierarchical systems with multiple interrelated elements, offers an important new framework for understanding and resolving this dilemma. Panarchy is the structure in which systems, including those of nature (e.g., forests) and of humans (e.g., capitalism), as well as combined human-natural systems (e.g., institutions that govern natural resource use such as the Forest Service), are interlinked in continual adaptive cycles of growth, accumulation, restructuring, and renewal. These transformational cycles take place at scales ranging from a drop of water to the biosphere, over periods from days to geologic epochs. By understanding these cycles and their scales, researchers can identify the points at which a system is capable of accepting positive change, and can use those leverage points to foster resilience and sustainability within the system.This volume brings together leading thinkers on the subject -- including Fikret Berkes, Buz Brock, Steve Carpenter, Carl Folke, Lance Gunderson, C.S. Holling, Don Ludwig, Karl-Goran Maler, Charles Perrings, Marten Scheffer, Brian Walker, and Frances Westley -- to develop and examine the concept of panarchy and to consider how it can be applied to human, natural, and human-natural systems. Throughout, contributors seek to identify adaptive approaches to management that recognize uncertainty and encourage innovation while fostering resilience.The book is a fundamental new development in a widely acclaimed line of inquiry. It represents the first step in integrating disciplinary knowledge for the adaptive management of human-natural systems across widely divergent scales, and offers an important base of knowledge from which institutions for adaptive management can be developed. It will be an invaluable source of ideas and understanding for students, researchers, and professionals involved with ecology, conservation biology, ecological economics, environmental policy, or related fields.
Promoting Islam as a defender of human rights is laden with difficulties. Advocates of human rights will readily point out numerous humanitarian failures carried out in the name of Islam. In The Rights of God, Irene Oh looks at human rights and Islam as a religious issue rather than a political or legal one and draws on three revered Islamic scholars to offer a broad range of perspectives that challenge our assumptions about the role of religion in human rights.
The theoretical shift from the conception of morality based in natural duty and law to one of rights has created tensions that hinder a fruitful exchange between human rights theorists and religious thinkers. Does the static identification of human rights with lists of specific rights, such as those found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, make sense given the cultural, historical, and religious diversity of the societies in which these rights are to be respected and implemented? In examining human rights issues of the contemporary Islamic world, Oh illustrates how the value of religious scholarship cannot be overestimated.
Oh analyzes the commentaries of Abul A'la Maududi, Sayyid Qutb, and Abdolkarim Soroush—all prominent and often controversial Islamic thinkers—on the topics of political participation, religious toleration, and freedom of conscience. While Maududi and Qutb represent traditional Islam, and Soroush a more reform and Western-friendly approach, all three contend that Islam is indeed capable of accommodating and advocating human rights.
Whereas disentangling politics and culture from religion is never easy, Oh shows that the attempt must be made in order to understand and overcome the historical obstacles that prevent genuine dialogue from taking place across religious and cultural boundaries.
Tracing the connections between human-like robots and AI at the site of dehumanization and exploited labor
The word robot—introduced in Karel Capek’s 1920 play R.U.R.—derives from rabota, the Czech word for servitude or forced labor. A century later, the play’s dystopian themes of dehumanization and exploited labor are being played out in factories, workplaces, and battlefields. In The Robotic Imaginary, Jennifer Rhee traces the provocative and productive connections of contemporary robots in technology, film, art, and literature. Centered around the twinned processes of anthropomorphization and dehumanization, she analyzes the coevolution of cultural and technological robots and artificial intelligence, arguing that it is through the conceptualization of the human and, more important, the dehumanized that these multiple spheres affect and transform each other.
Drawing on the writings of Alan Turing, Sara Ahmed, and Arlie Russell Hochschild; such films and novels as Her and The Stepford Wives; technologies like Kismet (the pioneering “emotional robot”); and contemporary drone art, this book explores anthropomorphic paradigms in robot design and imagery in ways that often challenge the very grounds on which those paradigms operate in robotics labs and industry. From disembodied, conversational AI and its entanglement with care labor; embodied mobile robots as they intersect with domestic labor; emotional robots impacting affective labor; and armed military drones and artistic responses to drone warfare, The Robotic Imaginary ultimately reveals how the human is made knowable through the design of and discourse on humanoid robots that are, paradoxically, dehumanized.
Throughout the recent culture and science “wars,” the radically new conceptions of knowledge and science emerging from such fields as the history and sociology of science have been denounced by various journalists, scientists, and academics as irresponsible attacks on science, absurd denials of objective reality, or a cynical abandonment of truth itself. In Scandalous Knowledge, Barbara Herrnstein Smith explores and illuminates the intellectual contexts of these crude denunciations. A preeminent scholar, theorist, and analyst of intellectual history, Smith begins by looking closely at the epistemological developments at issue. She presents a clear, historically informed, and philosophically sophisticated overview of important twentieth-century critiques of traditional—rationalist, realist, positivist—accounts of human knowledge and scientific truth, and discusses in detail the alternative accounts produced by Ludwik Fleck, Thomas Kuhn, Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, and others.
With keen wit, Smith demonstrates that the familiar charges involved in these scandals—including the recurrent invocation of “postmodern relativism”—protect intellectual orthodoxy by falsely associating important intellectual developments with logically absurd and morally or politically disabling positions. She goes on to offer bold, original, and insightful perspectives on the currently strained relations between the natural sciences and the humanities; on the grandiose but dubious claims of evolutionary psychology to explain human behavior, cognition, and culture; and on contemporary controversies over the psychology, biology, and ethics of animal-human relations. Scandalous Knowledge is a provocative and compelling intervention into controversies that continue to roil through journalism, pulpits, laboratories, and classrooms throughout the United States and Europe.
Artists today are at a crossroads. With funding for the arts and humanities endowments perpetually under attack, and school districts all over the United States scrapping their art curricula altogether, the place of the arts in our civic future is uncertain to say the least. At the same time, faced with the problems of the modern world—from water shortages and grave health concerns to global climate change and the now constant threat of terrorism—one might question the urgency of this waning support for the arts. In the politically fraught world we live in, is the “felt” experience even something worth fighting for?
In this soul-searching collection of vignettes, Patrick Summers gives us an adamant, impassioned affirmative. Art, he argues, nurtures freedom of thought, and is more necessary now than ever before.
As artistic director of the Houston Grand Opera, Summers is well positioned to take stock of the limitations of the professional arts world—a world where the conversation revolves almost entirely around financial questions and whose reputation tends toward elitism—and to remind us of art’s fundamental relationship to joy and meaning. Offering a vehement defense of long-form arts in a world with a short attention span, Summers argues that art is spiritual, and that music in particular has the ability to ask spiritual questions, to inspire cathartic pathos, and to express spiritual truths. Summers guides us through his personal encounters with art and music in disparate places, from Houston’s Rothko Chapel to a music classroom in rural China, and reflects on musical works he has conducted all over the world. Assessing the growing canon of new operas performed in American opera houses today, he calls for musical artists to be innovative and brave as opera continues to reinvent itself.
This book is a moving credo elucidating Summers’s belief that the arts, especially music, help us to understand our own humanity as intellectual, aesthetic, and ultimately spiritual.
Tactics of the Human returns to American fiction published during the 1990s, formative years for digital cultures, to reconsider these narratives’ comparative literary print methods of critically engaging with digital technologies and their now ubiquitous computation-based modes of circulation, scenes of writing, and social spaces. It finds that fiction by John Barth, Shelley Jackson, Leslie Marmon Silko, Ruth L. Ozeki, and Jeffrey Eugenides, by creatively transposing digital writing, material formats, and spatiotemporal orientations into print, registers shifting relations to technologies at multiple sites and scales. Grappling with the digital practices catalyzed by post–World War II biological, information, and systems theory, these literary narratives tactically enlist, and enable speculative diagnoses of, emerging relations to digital technologies. Their experimental technics comparatively retrace emerging relations to the digital as these impact American nationalisms and their transnational economic networks; processes of gendering and racialization that remain crucial to differential discourses of the human; and as they enter, unnoticed, into micropractices of everyday life and lived space.
In the midst of expanding technoscientific processes of digital de- and re-materialization that render multiple, charged boundaries of the human increasingly plastic, Tactics of the Human illustrates why it is ever more crucial to query and assess the divergent (re)understandings of the human now categorized, quite loosely, as posthumanisms with particular attention to women’s, subalterns’, and other knowledges already considered liminal to the human. It identifies here and pursues strains of systems thinking, informed by feminist, new materialist, queer, and subaltern understandings of material practices, revealing why these are so pivotal to ongoing efforts to assess current limits to digital technics and expand upon their biological, cultural, social, and poetic potentialities.