Code Dependency: Biotechnology and the Embrace of Biopolitics

Code Dependency: Biotechnology and the Embrace of Biopolitics

Bradley William Bryan

Language: English

Pages: 435

ISBN: 2:00144002

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This dissertation explores the conditions of subjectivity in biotechnology by analyzing
the way living entities are spoken of in various discourses of biotechnology. It examines
the way biotechnology arises against the backdrop of an urgent need to manage the
conditions that set upon human beings in their very livelihood, often called ìbiopolitics.î
ìInterpellationî or ìhailingî is the way the modern subject comes to understand herself as
a biological entity, and biopolitics occurs through the interpellation of the subject ñ
threatened as that subject is by the vicissitudes of biological existence. The dissertation
explores the way the vitality of things is characterized in biotechnology and the debates
about it, such that individuals come to understand themselves as the biological subjects
they are. Part One identifies and examines three historical conditions of the
biotechnological manner of interpreting how and what entities are: (i) that entities can be
identified, named and reckoned with in the natural world, (ii) that these entities vary
along a continuum rather than differ in any essential way, and (iii) that the variance
among entities can be quantitatively measured. After a consideration of these pre-conditions, Part Two of the dissertation turns to look at three particular ways of speaking about beings in biotechnology that, in being spoken, call upon us to see ourselves and the beings of the world around us in its terms. These are (i) how human activity is thought of through the increasingly troublesome terms ìnaturalî and ìartificial,î (ii) how the emergence of statistical analysis brings into being a way of apprehending truths about
living beings as amalgams of classifiable properties, thereby allowing beings to be
identified solely in terms of their relative place within a population that bears similar
properties, and (iii) the way legal metaphors are used in both the scientific and ethical
discourses of biotechnology to characterize the necessity with which entities exist,
function, and are cognizable. By looking at the preconditions and rhetorical modes of
biotechnology, the dissertation aims to understand how individuals are interpellated as
biopolitical subjects in a world of biotechnology.

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..................................................................................382 IV. Beyond the Question of Epistemology… and Ontology ................................386 Bibliography ...............................................................................................................390 iii Preface: why a look into what we are doing is worthwhile I It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old

understands names as attaching to the effects that things have on 10 Emphasis added. Ibid, 112. Hobbes, Elements of Philosophy, II.4 in Hobbes Selections, ed. Frederick J. E. Woodbridge (New York: Scribner’s, 1958), 18. 12 Ian Hacking, Historical Ontology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 15. It has also been noted that Hobbes’s understanding of science was grounded in his political and social understanding of the problem of order: Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the

pressing mission? Earth, dear one, I shall! -- Rilke, Duino Elegies IX. xii Acknowledgements This dissertation is barely mine, as so many have contributed to it that I can only fail to acknowledge them all or convey my thanks. My first expression of deep gratitude must go to David Lieberman, who has provided incisive and instructive guidance to me at every step of my graduate education. I have learned more under his tutelage than he would expect or admit, and his insightful commentary, gentle

problem of specie variation to take account of a vastly different understanding of time. By chronicling and attempting to understand change, Darwin came to see the way time was imbricated into life’s development, providing the concept of “evolution.”23 The concept of time in Darwinian thought is the time of today – living beings do not occur “in” time (as Aristotle would 20 Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species and the Descent of Man (New York: Modern Library, 1936), 360-61. 21 See, for

an industrial herbicide. Both are produced by Monsanto Inc. “The better your genetics, the better your yield. With Roundup Ready canola you can get early control of a very broad spectrum of weeds - and the option of using an economical second application for control of multiple weed flushes.” From Monsanto Canada’s 120 Bringing these two conditions together provides the opportunity for the gene to be the site for reconciling variation in traits with origins. Reconciling variation with the

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