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Jeff Kochan

Published On


Page Range

pp. 347-384

Print Length

37 pages

Chapter Seven - Conclusion: Subjects, Systems, and Other Unfinished Business

  • Jeff Kochan (author)
Chapter Seven does double duty: first, as a review of key themes from the preceding chapters; second, as a rough roadmap for future work. Later in his life, Heidegger’s attention shifted to the alleged dangers posed by scientific thinking to society. He claimed that modern science paves the way for the technologisation of society, or what he called ‘enframing.’ The chapter opens with Heidegger’s long friendship with the physicist Carl von Weizsäcker, who affirmed Heidegger’s concept of enframing as an outgrowth of modern science, but insisted that it offered liberating possibilities for humankind, especially in the form of cybernetics. While von Weizsäcker advocated for deeper engagement with cybernetics, the later Heidegger tried to radically depart from modern scientific thinking. Kochan argues that Heidegger’s considerations may be usefully translated into an interactionist social theory, as developed by SSK pioneer, Barry Barnes. Enframing is thus explained by the micro-interactions of instinctively social subjects. For von Weizsäcker, in contrast, enframing is a system which organises autonomous subjects into a social whole. Where the interactionist emphasises the subject over the system, the cyberneticist emphasises the system over the subject. The chapter concludes by arguing for a strong compatibility between Heidegger’s concept of the subject’s affectivity, introduced in Chapter Three, and Barnes’s interactionist attention to the emotional dynamics of ‘status groups.’ From this perspective, von Weizsäcker’s commitment to enframing evinces his membership in a status group whose interpersonal dynamics enforce that commitment at an emotional level. A concentrated research focus on the emotional dynamics governing scientific status groups flows naturally from the arguments advanced throughout this book. The book thus sketches a road forward for those intrepid STS scholars eager to produce innovative and exciting new work.


Jeff Kochan