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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter theorizes the epistemic roles of technology. Focusing on the example of magnetic resonance imaging, it approaches scientific instruments as adaptive mediators. The notion of adaptive mediator is drawn from the philosophy of Gilbert Simondon. The proposed approach aligns with accounts that historicize the conditions of knowledge but differs by pushing into an ecological and operational conceptual terrain. Challenging the dichotomy between sensibility and understanding, the ecologicizing move has the effect of putting technical mediation at the center of epistemology. The chapter explores the philosophical implications of replacing the subject/object model with an organism/environment model, showing how the latter fosters a new notion of ecological relationality that differs in philosophically significant respects from the poststructuralist relationality that underpins much science studies research. It proceeds to examine the epistemological implications of ecological relationality, pointing to how the ecological model opens the way for new epistemologies beyond the deadlocked positions of the science wars.

Keywords: technical mediation, adaptive mediators, technological agency, scientific instruments, magnetic resonance imaging, historical a priori, organism/environment model, ecological relationality, poststructuralist relationality, science wars, Gilbert Simondon

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