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Review: The multistable ontology of Don Ihde Evan Selinger (ed.), Postphenomenology: A Critical Companion to Ihde. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006. Pp. xi + 307. US$28.95. PB.

Richardson, I. (2007) Review: The multistable ontology of Don Ihde Evan Selinger (ed.), Postphenomenology: A Critical Companion to Ihde. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006. Pp. xi + 307. US$28.95. PB. Metascience, 16 (3). pp. 549-553.

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Abstract

Over the past four decades, Ihde’s phenomenological approach has been instrumental in countering the traditional understanding of scientific knowledge as abstract and contemplative, an idea that has construed the relationship between science (as _originary’ theory) and technology (as derivative praxis) in epistemologically hierarchical terms. In this classical understanding, technological apparatuses are the material or instrumental substrate; they work to prove or provide evidence of what is already effectively known via contemplative reasoning, or by way of a thinking that is untainted by the secular and carnal fallibilities of either bodily or instrumental perception. Yet increasingly, as Ihde documents, experimental praxis and perception have become essential to scientific knowledge, such that science can be more aptly named technoscience – a term that points to the inextricable and irreducible relation between modern science, the tools and historically located concepts used to achieve that knowledge, and the body–technology relations implicit in any knowledge-in-the-making. Technology, for Ihde, is not an application of science. Rather, scientific and industrial knowledge emerges from specific body–technology couplings that in turn generate particular, contextual, located techno–perceptual ways of determining what can be known. This understanding of interpretive possibility also describes the non-neutral and transformative effects of technoscientific activity, the latent epistemological and ontological _inclinations’ or _trajectories’ of any apparatus or device used to grasp or literally _take hold’ of the world, and thus the impossibility of objectivity in scientific – or indeed any – knowledge.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: Springer
Copyright: 2007 Springer
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/11779
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