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Category Archives: biocultures

Biocultures Manifesto: Disease, Technology, Selves and Knowledge

Adrian over at immanence posts the Biocultures Manifesto which he tells us was originally published in New Literary History back in 2007. Certainly worth repeating here:

* Science and humanities are incomplete without each other.
* It is untrue that the humanities are the realm of values and the sciences the realm of facts.
* Science isn’t hard and the humanities aren’t soft.
* You can’t fully understand the results of a given data set without knowing the historical, social, cultural, discursive fields surrounding the data.
* Any contemporary research needs more than a cursory background in history and in the history of the concepts it employs.
* You can’t study a subject that is an object.
* You can’t study an object that isn’t a subject.
* Diseases are disease entities.
* If you divide truths in half you get half-truths.
* If you divide knowledge, your knowledge is divided.
* Pain is always in your head because your brain is.
* Nothing human is universal or atemporal.
* Embodiment is necessarily biological, and knowledge is always embodied.
* A fact is a socially produced conclusion.
* Bodies are always cultural and biological.
* Selves today are embodied, biologized, shaped by medical knowledge.
* The body-whose, what, when, where-is always in question.
* The boundary between organic and inorganic is no longer clear.
* Technology has become human; humans have become technologies.
* Patients and experimental subjects are part of the decision-making process.
* Science can be postmodern; postmodernisms can be scientific.
* Biology, as a science, cannot exist outside culture; culture, as a practice, cannot exist outside biology.

I have say that I agree with nearly every one of these points (though not big on the subject/object distinction, and the bit on truth and knowledge seems a bit trite). All in all, a nice formulation of principles.  Adrian offers several links, including this.