By Stefan Helmreich, Sophia Roosth, Michele Friedner
What's lifestyles? what's water? what's sound? In Sounding the bounds of Life, anthropologist Stefan Helmreich investigates how modern scientists—biologists, oceanographers, and audio engineers—are redefining those an important options. lifestyles, water, and sound are phenomena without delay empirical and summary, fabric and formal, medical and social. within the age of artificial biology, emerging sea degrees, and new applied sciences of listening, those phenomena stretch towards their conceptual snapping issues, breaching the limits among the typical, cultural, and virtual.
Through examinations of the computational lifestyles sciences, marine biology, astrobiology, acoustics, and extra, Helmreich follows scientists to the bounds of those different types. alongside the way in which, he deals severe bills of such other-than-human entities as electronic lifestyles types, microbes, coral reefs, whales, seawater, extraterrestrials, tsunamis, seashells, and bionic cochlea. He develops a brand new suggestion of "sounding"—as investigating, fathoming, listening—to describe the shape of inquiry applicable for monitoring meanings and practices of the organic, aquatic, and sonic in a time of world swap and weather crisis.
Sounding the boundaries of Life exhibits that existence, water, and sound now not suggest what they as soon as did, and that what count number as their crucial natures are below dynamic revision.
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Additional resources for Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond
This extreme nature is in its way a secularized supernatural; its orbit extends beyond and embraces our planet, but it also posits a “natural,” encountered elsewhere, that can intimate its own incompleteness as a source of explanation. Limit, or extreme, natures necessarily fold back to ask questions about “normal” nature. Astrobiologists’ sense that life may have different conformations elsewhere in the universe is leading some to ask whether life may have originated more than once on Earth. Astrobiologists now ask whether such life might have left traces of its multiple origins.
Both sides of the argument deployed “forms of life” in reasoning about the limits of biology—and reached opposite conclusions. William Whewell, a liberal Anglican and prominent Victorian scholar best known for coining the term “scientist” in 1833, maintained that life did not exist on other planets; he considered his position both a scientific and a moral one.
36 Humboldt brought into play the habitual, environmental conditioning of form, pulling aesthetic abstractions down to earth, beginning a shift from deductive to inductive thinking about life forms. ”38 Humboldt influenced the thinking of Charles Darwin, who read Humboldt on his voyage on the Beagle and took to heart Humboldt’s conception of the environmental shaping of form. . . ”45 Insofar as Haeckel retained something of Goethe’s intuition about archetypes, he sited those archetypes not in an ideal world but in the past.
Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond by Stefan Helmreich, Sophia Roosth, Michele Friedner