Verran: Science and an African Logic
1. Explaining away what is meant to be explained: Verran pushes you towards: “What is to be explained?” (Dorothy’s “What is the problematic?”) – who has what sort of problem? Starting with the problem explains away the interesting part, instead of eventually getting to the problem. This means rethinking both ontology (now understood as political) and politics (not a matter of intervention, but clarification). Problematic is limiting because we can move too quickly that which should be kept open. In the best ANT studies, it is not a strict beginning.
2. Literalizing: numbers are a conceptual organization, but we treat them as a natural kind. The history of numbers is taking embodied rituals. Once the literalizing is done, those things are there? “We do things with numbers, but numbers are things with us” – “numbers are familiars that seem to do us as we do them.” Goes to the Thomas theorem – we create the reality, but it becomes real in its consequences. It then is able to change in various ways in the course of doing us.
204-205 – once in existence, the numbers systems take on a life of their own. Meanings become black boxes – at that point, the grammar becomes part of the system.
Ontological Politics: sorting out what counts as “differences.” What counts as “X” when “X” counts? What does count? ANT politically does not want to put anyone in a “hero role” positions (direct lineage of “Science as a vocation” – lets acknowledge). Multiple versions are all not equal as “what counts” – multiplicity. ANT always wants an honest game that understands what the rules are, who is doing what.
Reflexivity: 4 pages from the end: “Would I act any differently?” – and she says “not really.” A curious example of a knowing actor. Even in the ANT study (236) “letting these little rituals happen as they would… trust teachers, and to trust myself to know what was successful.” The knowing teacher, the bottom line: trust the people who are actually out there doing the out there work. So then, what was the book about? The work was about western ways of knowing. The theory needed a knowing subject – trust embodied certainty?
Where the observing writer – who is the reader, and what is that reader supposed to be concerned with? \
How much do you watch the world / how much do you let it be? How much is it doing Warhol and just setting up the camera and documenting? As soon as you start publishing something, it becomes part of the picture.
The book ends up being about bodies, and repeated enactments of bodies, and the possibilities of language, and how our categories are repeated things we do over and over again, give a name to, and then reify the name. The name does a thing (it does us/as we do it).
Ordered/Ordering Micro-worlds: what is the ordered/ordering micro-world? Something is happening / is ordered (the people have resources they are expected to deploy, say a diagnosis) /is ordering (a teaching scene – doing ordering that will perpetuate). The scene could be otherwise (say, an other diagnosis) (the deconstruction of the category). Recognizing the inadequacy.
Foundationalism (p. 210): foundationalism (learning to see through the confusing surface p. 165). The expert gaze is supposed to see through to something else with expertise. The “murky surface” – claims to explain all possible worlds must be refused (relativity). Yet, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t safe to get in an airplane. It’s built within specifications that work in this world, good enough to get from here to there (modest version of social science – middle range). The idea of some ultimate theory is a foundationalist pipe dream (another authority bid). Live in a world of modest claims.
Findings: “the report has me “finding” the order” – another version of literalizing.
218: Think of certainty (method as it is taught): downward flow / legitimizing / (also 144 – translations). Method is a way of legitimizing various claims by having a cognative authority. All about claims making. Which winners/which losers?
Constitution of certain categories: who are the winners and who are the losers? Who comes off better or worse?