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Week Two, Code

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 1 month ago

Week Two, Lorraine Code, Ecological Thinking: The politics of Epistemic Location 



Introduction and Chapter 1                   Kristin


1.  In the introduction, Code frames her book as a critique of post-Enlightenment positivist-reductionism in the academy.  What are the main weaknesses of what she frames as these “epistemologies of mastery,” and how does she suggest that ecological thinking can lead to more responsible ways of knowing? 

2.  What do you make of her claim that ecological thinking has the potential to “effect a revolution in philosophy comparable to Kant’s Copernican revolution” (3)?  How is ecological thinking different from other emancipatory theoretical projects? 

3.  In the first chapter, Code discusses Castoriadis’ conceptions of the “instituted social imaginary” and the “instituting imaginary” at some length.  What is meant by these terms, and how are they important for Code’s larger project? 

4.  In order to provide examples of what she means by “ecological thinking,” Code discusses the work of Carson and Messing.  What characteristics of ecological thinking are illuminated in these discussions?  How do these authors deal with specificity and generalization? 


Chapter 2                                             Nathalie


In its critical engagement with natural science, according to Lorraine Code, ecological naturalism concerns itself with active interrelations among … {species] and between them and their habitat in its most diverse biochemical and geophysical properties, to learn, analogically and literally, from ecological science.  More specifically, Lorraine Code specifies that she is interest in the naturalism that derives from Quine’s now—landmark claim (72).  What is the difference between Quine’s naturalism and the normalized conception of naturalism?  Does it achieve to study physical human subject in an epistemologically responsible manner?


Chapter 3                                             Kate


Questions for discussion for Ch. 3:


1. How, precisely, does Code understand knowledge to be a process of negotiation?  Is she arguing for an empricism that is negotiated, or negotiated differently than it typically is?  What are some strategies, either that she provides or that you can think of, for enabling such a negotiated empiricism, given our current (disciplinary or otherwise) epistemological climate?


2. What is the role or significance of power in Code's understanding of "negotiated empiricism?"


General question to ponder (in class or elsewhere):

Code says a number of times that ecological thinking is more than simply providing context.  How exactly is it different from providing context?  What are some examples in which we might recognize the difference between providing context and thinking ecologically?




Chapter 4                                             Evan


1. How can we go about excavating pre-ecological naturalism research? Is the sort of information that is usually given with research results sufficient to that end or will more comprehensive work need to be done to properly situate the results? Where should we turn to supplement that information?


2. Code asserts that there are fields within which "abstract formalism, uniformity, and lawlike deduction are quite fitting" (160). Among those she lists math and logic. In fact, such characteristics do seem to be a "given" for such areas of thought. What should we say about "modes of inquiry" like theoretical physics (160)? Does the same apply? Should we try to call those fields into question and deconstruct their findings as well? (I ask this question in light of the accusations that ecological thinking "allied to the dreadful mistake of postmodernism in general" (158). of events like "the Sokal Affair". As much as it pains me to give him any more airtime, this link is to Sokal's archives on the "Affair".)


3. This is a more general question, something I've been mulling over throughout the book. Can we adapt the insights of ecological thinking to phenomenological methods, which so often seems to claim to capture (or construct) universal experience? Have we already seen instances of that sort of phenomenology? Whether we have or not, is such an ecological phenomenology desirable?


Chapter 5                                             Hagit


1. While autonomy is presented as a necessary but problematic imaginary (163) that demands correction, advocacy is presented as advantageous but at the same time it includes the same dangers that autonomy has – of patronizing and weakening those who receive it. Considering the idea that both autonomy and advocacy share the conflict between empowerment and patronizing, and that advocacy needs to be ‘good, responsible, knowledgeable advocacy” (179), does it conflict with the idea that advocacy has a liberating function (165)? do autonomy and advocacy have an equal moral value? Are they indifferent morally?

Does the reliance needed on moral criteria weakens the argue for the usefulness of advocacy to foster and correct autonomy?


2 In the claim to remodel epistemology on the basis of ecological thinking, Code exposed the role of advocacy (184), trust and testimony (190) in the processes of acquisition of knowledge (since privileged knowledge is also advocated invisibly) and argues for a public use of them as a balance  to the autonomy imaginary.

Is it accurate to say that she argues for a shift in the subject-matter of epistemology from knowledge in the form ‘know that p’ to a multiple-form epistemology that includes also ‘know how to p’ and ‘know A’ (=name, such as ‘myself’)? What happens to knowledge of the form ‘know that p’ in ecological epistemology? What is the status of scientific statements such as “the earth moves around the sun”?

She says that advocacy in not truth promoting because it is aimed to win and not to know (179), - is she arguing for an epistemology that is not depended on truth? if not, what is the account of truth given in ecological epistemology?


Small ones:

Is she saying yes to a collective autonomy? What is this collective free from? (181)

Is it accurate to say that for Code autonomy always needs advocacy, facts always need values and discovery always need justification?  (Those are dichotomies which 'flow together'(177) )

Chapter 6                                             Lisa


  •  What has Code ultimately said in this chapter about rights discourse?  Is it indispensible, despite problematic assumptions about the subject?  And if so, how can a language of rights be attentive to the particularities of individuals (and maybe more importantly, the inadequacy of individuality)?
  • How can we explain the status of the subject after all this?  Code seems to want to retain some aspects of individuality while also illustrating the importance of understanding and relationality.  How are those two tendencies working together for her?  Are they also in tension with one another?


Chapter 7 and Conclusion                     Hillary


  • What is “epistemic citizenship” like in the currently hegemonic scientific episteme? What would it be like in an ecological social imaginary?
  • In Code’s analysis of Olivieri’s presentation in the media, she notes that Olivieri is constructed by some as “incompetent.”  “Larger silences” were “resoundingly audible.”  Finally, one of the article sources she uses is titled, “Much Ado about Nothing.”  In these ways, Olivieri is trivialized, omitted, and condemned.  What are some of the ways, throughout the book, that we see symbolic annihilation (omission, trivialization and condemnation, this theory is courtesy of media scholar Gaye Tuchman) at work?
  • What are some ways we could foster literacy to enable publics to combine analogical and genealogical analysis to enhance informed consent?
  • Do you think Code’s epistemology necessitates a revolution?  She clearly argues for epistemological pluralism, but she also repeatedly refers to revolution and “successor” epistemologies.  First, do you think Code advocates more for a revolution or a revision?  Can more than one episteme function concurrently?  If so, must one be hegemonic and others marginal?  If an ecological epistemology were hegemonic, would it be possible to engage other epistemologies simultaneously?
  • Ultimately, how does ecological epistemology challenge, revise, or replace the notions of dominion, mastery, and power-over?



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