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Socio Norms, Representation and Language Represented in Scientific Inquiry

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Submitted By farrowschmid
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I had to explain how socio norms, representation and language are represented in scientific inquiry.
1. Language, Representation and socio-cultural norms in scientific inquiry.
It has been made clear that, in the evolution of scientific thought, language is playing a more active role than is implied by a passive vehicle which merely conveys information. In the context of communication theory, linguists themselves have also pointed to the inadequacies of this traditional viewpoint, for it is clear that the listener is as active as the speaker in elaborating the content of the message ( We could argue that there are strong parallels to be drawn between the way in which the visual world is created and the way in which language is used to create our mental spaces. We therefore see that language can play a particularly subtle and active role in the way scientists communicate with each other and the ways in which new ideas are developed, or can be blocked ( It is also important to understand the relationship between vision and language in great depth over the years of scientific inquiry it has grown in context and the thoughts that have been constructed from (i . These ideas can be seen and viewed through the eyes of three different author’s, Laquer’s work on historical tales told by representations of women’s bodies, Stephen’s discussion of metaphor and Gilman and Schienbinger’s discussion of Visual imagery.
Scientist view and representation of women and their body has been a constant battle though the prevailing scientific years of research and study. Their views and thoughts were depicted in their studies and changed just as community perceptions evolved and were reconstructed over time. Laqueur shows us this in his arguments and interpretations of women and medicine. He says, “Representation of women is always the arena in which the dominant ideology reproduces itself by constructing knowledge and defining social practice.” (Laqueur 2001:20) This is true because the representation of women serves the interest of various subgroups within the dominant group. Representation can never completely contain or master its subject because even the silenced body acts out a language that defies mastery. This leads to production of knowledge and leaves open spaces for opposition and analysis. But this judgment of women continues past medical society as Laquere speaks about, it also falls into social society and role play of men and women. In Emily Martin’s article, The Egg and The Sperm, the construction of stereotypical male-female roles are discussed. In Martin’s article , the anthropologist discusses the possibility that culture shapes how biological scientist describe what they discover about the natural world. This is seen through the views of feminism and masculinity. The egg and the sperm was a critique about how imagery is used to describe the birth process of egg and sperm. “Take the egg and the sperm, it is remarkable how “femininely” the egg behaves and how “masculine” the sperm is. The egg is seen as large and passive. It does not move or journey, but passively is transported, is swept or even drifts along the fallopian tube. In the utter contrast, sperm are small, streamlined and invariably active.” (Martin 1991:489) Another point of imagery made from Martin’s article is the comparison of wastefulness in roles of the egg and the sperm. Oogenesis is wasteful, so many eggs are formed only to die in the ovaries, but sperm is not seen as wasteful even though it produces 100 million sperm a day and only 400 to 500 eggs are released in a women’s 40 year period. (Martin 1991:488) The stereotypical representation of egg and sperm, simply replicates elements of textbook and socio-norm gender imagery, just in a different form. Gilman and Schiebinger’s articles give a deeper insight to explaining the observations of science and role play of men and women.
Nature’s Body-gender in the Making of Modern Science is a detailed article explaining how scientific communities viewed gender and race, using scientific theories to summarize human bodies, generating countless examples of radical misleading of the human body that scholars today have described as scientific racism and scientific sexism. These eighteenth-century natural historians created a peculiarly durable, vision of nature--one that embodied the sexual and racial tensions of that era. Many of these created ideas were mere paradoxes and incompatibilities that plagued the eighteenth century theories of sexual and racial differences using scientific research to understand and derive facts and knowledge about the similarities and differences in sexual traits, characteristics of races as well as body types and figures. Nature's Body draws on these and other examples to uncover the ways in which assumptions about gender, sex, and race have shaped scientific explanations of nature. This article showed in detail how the studies and thoughts of scientists were interlinked to the view of human representation as well as how socio- norms of that time influenced their works. Their studies at this time were focused on primarily men and women. Comparing and measuring bodies, making white males the alpha and using them as universal racial subjects. One of the biggest studies mention was the “racial pelvis” in the 1820’s. When pelvises were studied systematically they were ranked superior or inferior, lower or higher in accord with the principles of the supposed chain of being. Such evidence concluded from these studies were, differences in sex were subordinated to racial types, using examples of African, explaining how “their” female pelvis in contrast with the male was light and delicate, which was said to be dense resembling the pelvis of a wild beast. But compared to the white , race, both African men and women resembled more of ape species then they did humans. These comparisons made were based of their own scientific observations of the connection between race and species of this time. The strong racial language of this period was their influence to find studies that proved what they believed to be true, whether their studies were based of fact or assumptions, their endeavors were based of vision and representation. In the eighteenth century, a large amount of attention within the scientific communities was focused on skulls. Skulls were used to forge a new, racial chain of being. Interest in the faculty of reason, considered by many the generic characteristic responsible for humankind’s vast superiority over all other animals. One of the main headliners of this idea was Petrus Camper, naturalists who was one of the first to suggest that skull measurements could illuminate the natural relationship among apes, Negroes, and Europeans. He sorted apes and humans by Linea Facialis (“facial Line”). Camper spent much of his time, defining angles of “prognathism ” and finding distinct facial angles from different racial men and animals. He searched for a better guideline to define chief characteristics of each human group. The purpose and importance of understanding these early views was to sketch how the contours of racial and sexual science followed broader political studies. Also during this enlightenment new justifications were required for slavery and a center focus on European white men being the major focal point.
The ideas presented in Nature’s Body by Schiebinger, were similar to the ideas and thinking of the scientist in Stephan’s article. These scientists as well proposed ideas between racial and sexual differences as well as racial and class differences studying race, facial angle, measuring hierarchy in nature, and speaking of races as distinct species. The spin on this was the use of metaphors and analogies to make broader understanding of the issue at hand. Many cognitive scientists agreed that people make predictions by forming mental models, internal structures that represent external reality in at least approximant ways. Analogies as the naturalist in this article would describe, using these metaphors and analogies, allows the educator to take a step beyond ordinary mental models to represent some part of environment. The environment in this case was persona and understanding them. They also gave insight to new ideas. These mere bridges were not likened by everyone some consider it “obvious pseudoscience. The use of each can be a weak or general heuristics depending on the mental model used as well as the source and its target, so many scientists did not agree on them having a proper place in the scientific community, although, it was clear that they had impacted the community whether, completely useful or not. The Stephan’s article is a prime example of a scientific analogy itself, and a strong one at that. Using such systems allowed scientist to better prove their findings and allow the people to see the differences between classes, races and sexes, between civilized man and the savage, between rich and poor, and between child and adult and men and women. As stated, “Having a metaphorical system provided the “lenses” through which people experienced and saw”. But important questions defined in this article were how did these literal terms appear in science? From what did it derive its scientific authority and how did analogy shape research? The answers to these are not concrete, but made clear that certain analogies and metaphors were selected and accepted, but they were neither arbitrary nor personal. There lack of perceived “arbitrariness” made them acceptable in science.
Race and Gender, while making “scientific” judgments of races, made a point to include “Hottentot”. Recapping from the article, Winthrop Jordan says, “Blackness was indentified with baseness, sin, the devil and ugliness, and the whiteness with virtue, purity, holiness, and beauty. Overtime they were compared to apes, their childishness, savages, bestiality, sexuality, and lack of intellectual capacity. They were made to stand for all that white male was not”. This same analogy was talked about in the last article given, the Hottentot and the Prositute- Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality. This article examines the difference in views of women sexuality based on race using Honttentot Venus as the base of comparison. Hottentot Venus, one of the most famous women of Khoikoki women (African tribe) who were exhibited as a sideshow attraction in the 19th century Europe under the stage name Hottentot Venus. Black women during this time were viewed mostly as a servant to white women, a lust and seductive evil lure to white men, and nothing but a figure of amusement to white men’s society. Hottentot was full figured with curves, a large exterior and a well suited chest. Every part of her body type was exaggerated in every aspect. This same depiction was used to understand and describe black women as well as how they were viewed and thought of. The white scientific race was curious of this exclusive woman. As mentioned earlier, they as well used her body to try and scientifically justify their racial views of a juxtaposition of the black race and the primitive one. Even after her death they took out her body parts, preserved them and kept them to view, using such “scientific” analogies and steatopygia to make clear conceptions of what they perceived as a peculiar race. Hottentot and the Prostitute explored the “dark continent”, arguing the hidden truths about female sexuality. It relates images of male discover to images of the female as the object of discovery.
Together these articles bring out dominate views of how society looked at things through visual representation, metaphors and the influence of socio-norms. Science was growing during this time, and much of experimentation was very general and broad. Most of their “scientific” knowledge was based off mere racial views toward races and genders. This insight captures examples uncovering the ways in which assumptions about gender, sex, and race have shaped scientific explanations and the growth of feminism in early eighteenth and nineteenth century societies as well as today.…...

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