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Augustine’s Cup: Boundary Conditions and Relocating Science in a Post-postmodern World
Unformatted Document Text:  distribution of resources. 18 Moreover, from the perspective of the Marxian critical scholar, science is a pillar without which the society being criticized would collapse. Science is therefore implicated in the injustices and ills perpetrated by such societies. Every scientist who has struggled to write a grant application to meet the interests and priorities of a federal agency or foundation is quite aware how the scientific enterprise is embedded in a society’s social and political structure. Indeed, I would argue that the increasingly close association between science and economic, social, and political institutions has arisen in part because those institutions that fail to embrace the scientific enterprise fall by the wayside in competition with institutions and societies which exploit that enterprise. To the extent that one dislikes these institutions, one is likely to dislike the scientific activity that supports it technologically. That is to dislike the use to which the tool is put, not necessarily to dislike the method or all of its products. The postmodernist may critique the science, but love the word processor. The mythos of an all-powerful, benevolent science, one is appropriated by ideologues and owners of capital when convenient to support and justify their enterprises, is part of the “grand narrative” critiqued by Lyotard. The mythos of science is not science itself; that seems to be a confusion characterizing the thinking of some postmodernist critics. (Perhaps this is because, given their usual training in literature, they know how to analyze narrative; it is tempting to mistake the representation one understands for the actual phenomena that one does not understand, or understands only very partially. Scientists are prone to a parallel error, mistaking their fragile models for the actual complex of phenomena and relations between phenomena that the models represent). In fact, scientists sometimes must battle the mythos of science. For example, ecologists and other environmental scientists struggle with politicians who invoke the

Authors: Slater, Michael.
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distribution of resources.
18
Moreover, from the perspective of the Marxian critical scholar,
science is a pillar without which the society being criticized would collapse. Science is
therefore implicated in the injustices and ills perpetrated by such societies.
Every scientist who has struggled to write a grant application to meet the interests
and priorities of a federal agency or foundation is quite aware how the scientific enterprise is
embedded in a society’s social and political structure. Indeed, I would argue that the
increasingly close association between science and economic, social, and political institutions
has arisen in part because those institutions that fail to embrace the scientific enterprise fall
by the wayside in competition with institutions and societies which exploit that enterprise.
To the extent that one dislikes these institutions, one is likely to dislike the scientific
activity that supports it technologically. That is to dislike the use to which the tool is put,
not necessarily to dislike the method or all of its products. The postmodernist may critique
the science, but love the word processor.
The mythos of an all-powerful, benevolent science, one is appropriated by
ideologues and owners of capital when convenient to support and justify their enterprises, is
part of the “grand narrative” critiqued by Lyotard. The mythos of science is not science
itself; that seems to be a confusion characterizing the thinking of some postmodernist critics.
(Perhaps this is because, given their usual training in literature, they know how to analyze
narrative; it is tempting to mistake the representation one understands for the actual
phenomena that one does not understand, or understands only very partially. Scientists are
prone to a parallel error, mistaking their fragile models for the actual complex of phenomena
and relations between phenomena that the models represent).
In fact, scientists sometimes must battle the mythos of science. For example,
ecologists and other environmental scientists struggle with politicians who invoke the


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