Objectivity will interest any reader interested in how the conceptions and practices of science change historically and culturally. A claim to objective knowledge is an absolute demand for obedience. There, science and its outcomes took on a very human face. But, it is precisely this humanness, and its presumed downsides for science that motivated Daston and Galison to write Objectivity. While its use as a word had 63 The Weekly Qualitative Report December 8, been around since the era of the early Greeks, objectivity gained its status as a scientific word, Daston and Galison argue, in the mid 19th century.
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Objectivity will interest any reader interested in how the conceptions and practices of science change historically and culturally. A claim to objective knowledge is an absolute demand for obedience. There, science and its outcomes took on a very human face. But, it is precisely this humanness, and its presumed downsides for science that motivated Daston and Galison to write Objectivity.
While its use as a word had 63 The Weekly Qualitative Report December 8, been around since the era of the early Greeks, objectivity gained its status as a scientific word, Daston and Galison argue, in the mid 19th century. Thus, scientists moved to new ways of ensuring the truth of their discoveries and experiments, adopting methods that could be replicated and scrutinized by respected peers. Objectivity, for Daston and Galison, found traction as a word when scientists began to more seriously reflect on what they saw as an increasing obstacle to scientific knowledge: themselves.
The irony this book points out is that objectivity itself has had to take on different human morals, meanings and practices — to fit different expectations for objectivity. While many may be quite prepared to accept that aesthetic tastes, technology, and ways of communicating might vary with time, the notion that the seeming linchpin of science, objectivity, might similarly change with the times can be unsettling.
The authors are not talking here about the classic evolving scientific narrative where things converge on ultimate truths and correct practices. Daston and Galison trace objectivity through different identifiable phases, with very different conceptions for being an objective scientist. This kind of re-presentation was done for one of the most important scientific endeavours of that era: classifying and representing biological, geological and other phenomena.
With the advent of daguerreotypes and cameras, the view that nature could be differently represented — without the taint of human idealism and standardization — ushered in what Daston and Galison described as the first modern era of objectivity: mechanical objectivity. Here is what they have to say about it: By mechanical objectivity we mean the insistent drive to repress the willful intervention of the artist-author, and to put in its stead a set of procedures that would, as it were move nature to the page through a strict Tom Strong 64 protocol, if not automatically.
This sometimes meant using an actual machine… p. Pages of pictures of machinery, and of the products of machinery are placed in alongside this account of the era of mechanical objectivity, and of the scientific loyalties expected.
Mechanically trying to reproduce the world, to show objectivity and scientific self-restraint, left some things out that scientists and society at large wanted — of the self as well. In tracing these shifting expectations of the scientist, they write, …genius migrates from well-stocked memory to steely will, as the self is reconceptualized first as a congeries of faculties, then as a will-centered monolith.
Moral imperatives shift accordingly, to combat first the temptations of the imagination and then subjectivity. Quests for truth and quests for objectivity do not produce the same kind of science or the same kind of scientist. With structural objectivity came a focus on measurement, logic, replicable, empirical sequences reliant on the pristine senses and dispassionate reasoning of the scientist.
But, listening properly came with added abstractions: numbers, a priori names, formulae, observational, measuring instruments, and so on. Structures owe something to the schemes of intelligibility that people use to identify them as such. In my profession of family therapy, this would be how my training might help me see a problematic pattern of family interaction where my psychology colleagues would see examples of individually diagnosable psychopathology.
By this logic, a cellular biologist, a geneticist, an anthropologist, and a psychologist can each look at a human being and come up with different structural accounts of the same person — all objectively one should add. References Bernstein, R. Beyond objectivism and relativism: Science, hermeneutics and praxis.
Oxford: Blackwell. Elias, N. The civilizing process. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Daston, L. New York: Zone Books. Foucault, M. Madness and civilization: A history of insanity in the age of reason. New York: Vintage. Galison, P. New York: W. Keeney, B. Aesthetics of change. New York: Guilford. Mendez, C, Coddou, F. The bringing forth of pathology. The Irish Journal of Psychology, 9, Nagel, T. The view from nowhere. New York: Oxford University Press. Taylor, C.
Sources of the self: The making of the modern identity. Toulmin, S. Cosmopolis: The hidden agenda of modernity. New York: Free Press.
Tom Strong 66 Author Note Dr. His research is concentrated in three areas: discursive analyses of psychotherapy and health conversations, theory development and application related to social constructionist or discursive approaches to counselling, and ethical issues in counselling. All correspondence should be addressed to Dr. The Weekly Qualitative Report, 1 10 ,
In Objectivity, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison chart the emergence of objectivity in the mid-nineteenth-century sciences--and show how the concept differs from its alternatives, truth-to-nature and trained judgment. This is a story of lofty epistemic ideals fused with workaday practices in the making of scientific images. From the eighteenth through the early twenty-first centuries, the images that reveal the deepest commitments of the empirical sciences--from anatomy to crystallography--are those featured in scientific atlases, the compendia that teach practitioners what is worth looking at and how to look at it. Galison and Daston use atlas images to uncover a hidden history of scientific objectivity and its rivals.