Proverbial Economies: How an Understanding of Some Linguistic and Social Features of Common Sense Can Throw Light on More Prestigious Bodies of Knowledge, Science for Example
MetadataShow full item record
CitationShapin, Steven. 2001. Proverbial economies: How an understanding of some linguistic and social features of common sense can throw light on more prestigious bodies of knowledge, science for example. Social Studies of Science 31(5): 731-769.
AbstractAn evaluative contrast between learned expertise and lay knowledge is a pervasive and longstanding feature of modern culture. Occasionally, the learned have pointed to folkish proverbs to illustrate the inadequacies of common-sense reasoning and judgement. Proverbs are said perspicuously to display the superficiality, the imprecision, and even the logical contradictions of common-sense thinking. I offer an interpretation of proverbs in their naturally occurring settings as epistemically powerful, mnemonically robust, practically pertinent, and referentially flexible. My purpose is not just to recuperate the value of proverbial reasoning but, ultimately, to show the relevance of such reasoning to a revised appreciation of modern technical practices, including science, technology and medicine. To that end, the paper concludes with some speculative remarks about the linguistic forms in which the heuristics of present-day technical practices are expressed and transmitted.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:3221093
- FAS Scholarly Articles