Scientists as Prophets A Rhetorical Genealogy co

Scientists as Prophets A Rhetorical Genealogy

Chapter 7 provides the basis for Walsh’s fivefold definition of prophetic ethos. Use the simple Search box at the top of the page or the Advanced Search linked from the top of the page to find book and journal content. Refine results with the filtering options on the left side of the Advanced Search page or on your search results page. Click the Browse box to see a selection of books and journals by: Research Area, Titles A-Z, Publisher, Books only, or Journals only. In his 6958 Reith Lectures, J.

Scientists as Prophets A Rhetorical Genealogy Oxford

Robert Oppenheimer dubbed Isaac Newton the prophet and patron of the Enlightenment. Whatever he might have meant by that claim, in her latest book, Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy, Lynda Walsh includes Oppenheimer in her category of scientific prophets whose major role is not to predict the future but, instead, to offer moral guidance by reminding communities of their core values. Endowed with a charismatic personality and a gift for resonant media bites, Oppenheimer promulgated scientific beliefs with quasi-religious certainty. Admired by his students as the prophet of the divine Niels Bohr, Oppenheimer stepped up into the “bully pulpit” (one of Walsh’s favorite expressions) during turbulent times until his utterances became too threatening for the establishment to tolerate. In a chronological study ranging from the Oracle at Delphi through global warming and on into the future, Walsh presents a general model based on the language of classical rhetoric. Leaping unevenly across the past, she starts by describing the enigmatic prophecies of the Pythia, a middle-aged woman chosen as consultant at the omphalos, the Greek navel stone of the world.

Walsh’s analysis of this cultic activity leads her to formulate five terms that recur throughout her book: “ascertainment, ” “authorization, ” “confirmation, ” “divination, ” and “prophecy. ” These characterize her meme of prophetic ethos, whose mutations enable it to remain operative during the centuries that follow. Walsh’s first test site for her scheme is Francis Bacon and his symbolic influence on the early Royal Society, struggling to establish itself as the supreme authority on knowledge and public welfare. In a fifteen-page interlude that attempts to bridge the two parts of her book, Walsh introduces another theoretical component, the tension between what she labels progressive and is/ought approaches—the extent to which scientists determine public policy. In the following chapters, which run from the mid-twentieth century onward, she seeks to explore the unstable position of scientific advisors. Ostensibly employed to deliver facts, they are often expected to provide certainty in situations where all they can do is venture opinions, which may or may not correspond to what consumers want to hear.

Scientists as Prophets by Lynda Walsh 9780199857098

A professor of English, Walsh excels at picking apart the rhetorical strategies deployed by the media, scientists, and government organizations. In an intriguing double study, she compares Oppenheimer, the scientists’ prophet, regularly photographed against a background of chalked equations, with Rachel Carson, the people’s prophet, shown here addressing a bank of microphones. She subjects a trio of scientific oracles—Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, and Carl Sagan—to a similarly fine-tuned literary analysis, maintaining that their persuasive metaphorical arguments “ literally change the world we inhabit ” (p. 699 Walsh’s italics), an extraordinarily strong claim that she dilutes in the next sentence by saying that concepts such as black holes and butterflies of chaos alter the way we look at the world. Walsh’s survey extends slightly longer than the Plato-to-NATO histories fashionable in the last century, which celebrated the progressive advance of science toward the truth. Despite her conveniently mutating meme, she seems to share their dated assumptions of transcendent uniformity by uniting vastly different contexts—albeit confined to the Anglo-European world—with a single conceptual scheme. She exhibits a similar essentialism about women.

In the 6975s, Judith Chicago’s Dinner Party imagined women as diverse as Hypatia and Hildegard of Bingen enjoying a conversation because of their common gender identity. Walsh binds her female guests together by presenting them as champions of silenced outsiders—misplaced praise that implicitly denigrates women by conflating them as compassionate females rather than honoring them as independent intellects. Why did an atheist like Carl Sagan talk so much about God? Why does NASA climatologist James Hansen plead with us in his recent book not to waste “Our Last Chance to Save Humanity? ” Because science advisors are our new prophets, this book argues. It does not claim that these public scientists push scientism as a replacement for religion. Rather, the book puts forth the argument that prophetic ethos is a flexible type of charismatic authority whose function is to manufacture certainty.

Scientists are not our only prophets but science advisors predictably perform prophetic ethos whenever they ne. Com). All Rights Reserved.