Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Daston, Galison and Grant McCracken.
"Trust us. We're experts." Victor Frankenstein 

Daston and Galison. Trained Judgment
This judging, unconscious-intuitive scientific self is a long way from a self built around the imperious will. Nor was it a return to the fragmented self of the eighteenth-century savants. Though expert trained judgment, like truth-to-nature, stood in opposition to mechanical objectivity, trained judgment and truth-to-nature are far from identical. The atlas author of the twentieth century is a more adept version of the reader — a trained expert —not a debased echo of the sage. To the reader-apprentice of the twentieth century, there was no need to rely on the guiding genius's qualitatively different sensibility. The Gibbses may have been more familiar with the erratic markings of an electroencephalogram than the advanced medical student or up-to-date physician, but the aspiring electro-encephalogram reader is promised 98 percent reading accuracy in twelve short weeks. No part of the self-confidence displayed here is grounded in genius. The trained expert (doctor, physicist, astronomer) grounds his or her knowledge in guided experience, not special access to reality. (Imagine Goethe promising his readers the ability to construct the ur-forms of nature after a Gibbs-like high-intensity training course.) Nor are the interpreted images that judgment produces to be likened to the metaphysical images of an earlier age. Explicitly "theoretical," the new depictions not only invited interpretation once they were in place but also built interpretation into the very fabric of the image — but they did so as an epistemic matter. Theirs were exaggerations meant to teach, to communicate, to summarize knowledge, for only through exaggeration (advocates of the interpreted image argued) could the salient be extracted from the otherwise obscuring "naturalized" representation. The extremism of iconography generated by expert judgment exists not to display the ideal world behind the real one but to allow the initiate to learn how to see and to know.

Along with this conjoint history of scientific self and image comes a reshaping of the presupposed audience for the scientific work itself. For different reasons, both the reasoned and the objective images took for granted an epistemic passivity on the part of those who viewed them. The reasoned image is authoritative because it depicts an otherwise hidden truth, and the objective image is authoritative because it "speaks for itself" (or for nature). But the interpreted image demands more from its recipient, explicitly so. The oft-repeated refrain that one needs to learn to read the image actively (with all the complexity that reading implies) also transforms an assumed spectator into an assumed reader. Both the maker and the reader of images have become more active, more dynamic, drawing on unconscious as well as conscious faculties to effect something far more complex than a simple Manichaean struggle of the will between (good) receptivity and (dangerous) intervention.
"The atlas author of the twentieth century is a more adept version of the reader — a trained expert —not a debased echo of the sage. To the reader-apprentice of the twentieth century, there was no need to rely on the guiding genius's qualitatively different sensibility."

endless fucking repeats. Marcus Stanley etc.
"The sociology of modern knowledge production empowers the scholar over the humanist, and the collective / communal enterprise of scholarship over the inspiration of the individual thinker."
You have that precisely backwards. The humanist is embedded in culture by calling, the mathematician only by default, while embedded by choice in a private world of universals. 
I'd forgotten Stanley cites Galison.
...what united the Logical Positivists and the members of Bauhaus was a desire to create an alternative vision of social relations than the one promulgated by Volkisch thought – the intellectual representative of National Socialism.
Daston and Galison can't imagine life outside the bubble of technocratic reason. They can't imagine the history of empire, of people screaming to be heard, ignored by reasonable enlightened white society. Their arguments cannot explain the changing attitudes towards Palestinians in the western imagination.

Immigration and mass communication are the proximate causes of the turn against Zionism, the realization -on the part of westerners and Jews- of what in fact it always was. The experts led no more this time than last, or ever. They've been pushed by events, from outside and below, by the new fact of Palestinians and Muslims, as human beings, in the news and in their lives.

The book is blurbed by Bruno Latour.

Modernism was the fantasy of writing with the assumption that from then on there would be only reading with and no reading against. To read tale against teller or to read against the grain would be gross error. Rebellion against this has always taken the form of the rebellion of youth against their parents, with the more sympathetic elders caught in the middle, trying to justify the revolt while trying to make it fit with what they know and what they are. So we get the obscurantist poeticizing of Derrida -the philosopher magistrate as wise old fool- and the blandness of Rorty and Nussbaum, struggling to find a way beyond technocracy while being mocked for the attempt by professional technocrats and lionized by amateur enthusiasts. The model of the Continental philosopher was as Pope and Antipope combined, a philosophical self that could contain an other, in a sense obviating the need for actual democracy. And now that Continental and Anglo-American philosophy are joining out of necessity and the need for survival, we see parallels in Bruno Latour's Collective and David Chalmers' Extended Mind.
Galison began with the fantasies of the Bauhaus, the founding fantasies of Israel.

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