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Unhastening ScienceAutonomy and Reflexivity in the Social theory of Knowledge$
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Dick Pels

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780853236382

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846314322

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What (Again) is So Special about Science?

What (Again) is So Special about Science?

(p.25) Chapter 2 What (Again) is So Special about Science?
Unhastening Science
Liverpool University Press

This chapter takes up the fundamental notion of knowledge politics in order to prepare an alternative ‘normative description’ of scientific autonomy. The first step in the argument introduces a ‘knowledge–political continuum’, which replaces the heavily guarded, impassable boundary policed by essentialist criteria of truth, logic, and method by a gradient of lesser distinctions, lower thresholds, and weaker boundaries, which range all the way from the micropolitics of science to the macropolitics of the state. The second step in the argument introduces a differential time dimension in addition to the traditional dimension of space, suggesting that scientific autonomy can be reinvented within this new framework of graded distinctions and permeable boundaries by attending to the specific effects of deceleration or unhastening. This temporal gradient can be filled out by means of a critical phenomenology which points up a set of pragmatic differentials between slower ‘writing cultures’ and faster ‘talking cultures’, highlighting significant variations in public exposure, issue selectivity, and relative audience size. The question about the temporal specificity of science is then recaptured on the broader canvas of the so–called ‘social triangle’. This spatio–temporal model revises the classical triadic ontology of culture, polity, and economy in order to re–balance the liberal problem of the separation of social spheres with the postliberal one of de–differentiation and boundary erosion.

Keywords:   knowledge politics, temporal specificity, scientific autonomy, writing cultures, talking cultures, boundaries, social triangle

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