Narrative Experiments: The Discursive Authority of Science and Technology
Narrative Experiments was first published in 1989. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In Narrative Experiments, Gayle Ormiston and Ralph Sassower bring a refreshing perspective to the domains of inquiry we call "science" and "technology," asserting that traditional definitions (like classical idealism and materialism) fail to suggest the rich and complex cultural/linguistic interplay occurring between them. This context is not merely a background, nor is Ormiston and Sassower's just one more interdisciplinary approach to the subject. Instead, their book argues, science, technology, and the humanities developed in concert with one another, and their reciprocity obliterates all traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Ormiston and Sassower build their case by devoting a chapter to each of the four themes emerging from the etymological introduction. First, they look at the role fiction and other literary modes play in developing our attitudes toward science and technology -- how the visions of Bacon, Hobbes, Galileo, Rousseau, Mary Shelley, and Orwell evoke both anxiety and hope. Next, they examine a series of eighteenth-century "fictions" -- the Enlightenment texts of Kant, Rousseau, and Hume -- and the elevated (but ambiguous) status science and technology associated with them. The last two chapters evaluate modes of discursive authority and its dissemination -- classical and modern extralinguistic approaches; the contemporary-linguistic view espoused by Rorty, Quine, and others; and their own avowedly experimental journey through the labyrinths of cultural and linguistic usage.