Steve Joshua Heims: The Cybernetics Group (1991)

19 September 2017, dusan

“This is the engaging story of a moment of transformation in the human sciences, a detailed account of a remarkable group of people who met regularly from 1946 to 1953 to explore the possibility of using scientific ideas that had emerged in the war years (cybernetics, information theory, computer theory) as a basis for interdisciplinary alliances. The Macy Conferences on Cybernetics, as they came to be called, included such luminaries as Norbert Wiener, John von Neumann, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Warren McCulloch, Walter Pitts, Kurt Lewin, F. S. C. Northrop, Molly Harrower, and Lawrence Kubie, who thought and argued together about such topics as insanity, vision, circular causality, language, the brain as a digital machine, and how to make wise decisions.

Heims, who met and talked with many of the participants, portrays them not only as thinkers but as human beings. His account examines how the conduct and content of research are shaped by the society in which it occurs and how the spirit of the times, in this case a mixture of postwar confidence and cold-war paranoia, affected the thinking of the cybernetics group. He uses the meetings to explore the strong influence elite groups can have in establishing connections and agendas for research and provides a firsthand took at the emergence of paradigms that were to become central to the new fields of artificial intelligence and cognitive science.

In his joint biography of John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener, Heims offered a challenging interpretation of the development of recent American science and technology. Here, in this group portrait of an important generation of American intellectuals, Heims extends that interpretation to a broader canvas, in the process paying special attention to the two iconoclastic figures, Warren McCulloch and Gregory Bateson, whose ideas on the nature of the mind/brain and on holism are enjoying renewal today.”

Paperback edition appeared under the title Constructing a Social Science for Postwar America: The Cybernetics Group (1946–1953) in 1993.

Publisher MIT Press, 1991
ISBN 0262082004, 9780262082006
xii+334 pages

Reviews: N. Katherine Hayles (Hist Human Sciences, 1992), R.V. Jones (New Scientist, 1992), Carlos A. Martínez-Vela (2001).

WorldCat

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Donna Haraway: Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science (1989)

19 June 2016, dusan

“Haraway’s discussions of how scientists have perceived the sexual nature of female primates opens a new chapter in feminist theory, raising unsettling questions about models of the family and of heterosexuality in primate research.”

This “large book may be read from start to finish as a chronological and thematic survey of twentieth-century primatology. … But each chapter is simultaneously history of science, cultural studies, feminist exploration, and engaged intervention into the constitutions of love and knowledge in the disciplined crafting of the Primate Order. … My placing this account of primatology within SF–the narratives of speculative fiction and scientific fact–is an invitation for the readers of Primate Visions–historians, culture critics, feminists, anthropologists, biologists, anti-racists, and nature lovers–to remap the borderlands between nature and culture.” (from the Introduction)

Publisher Routledge, 1989
ISBN 0415902940, 9780415902946
ix+486 pages

Reviews: George E. Marcus (Science 1990), Alison Jolly and Margaretta Jolly (New Scientist 1990), Robin Dunbar (NY Times 1990), Louise Krasniewicz and Michael Blitz (Discourse 1990), Anne Fausto-Sterling (J Hist Biology 1990), Susan Cachel (Am J Primatology 1990), Meredith F. Small (Am J Physical Anthropology 1990), Sarah Franklin (J Hist Sexuality 1990), Matt Cartmill (Int J Primatology 1991), M. Lynn Byrd (H-Ideas 2001).

WorldCat

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Donna Haraway: How Like a Leaf: An Interview with Thyrza Nichols Goodeve (1999)

5 October 2015, dusan

A lengthy interview-conversation that covers aspects of both Haraway’s life and work.

Publisher Routledge, 1999
ISBN 0415924022, 9780415924023
197 pages

Reviews: Tony Scott (Kairos, 2000), Erika Bourguignon (NWSA Journal, 2001).
Commentary: McKenzie Wark (Public Seminar, 2015).

Publisher
WorldCat

PDF (2 MB)