This commentary on Isabelle Stengers's article, “Comparison as a Matter of Concern” is an assessment of her stance toward experimental psychology. At the various points in her work where she considers that discipline, she tends to accuse it of failing to embrace the “risk” that she sees as defining the “collective games” of science. Brown invokes the behavioral approach to experimental psychology of the early to mid-twentieth century to contextualize Stengers's treatment of continuous comparison conducted by scientists around “matters of concern.” Her use of the metaphor of predator/prey relationships between practices is seen as reversing the usual direction of critique within psychology, such that experimental psychology appears to have, in the Wistar rat, an object grounding a community that is capable of performing continuous comparison, which its critics contrastingly lack. Stengers's ecological view of practices may then ultimately lead to a reappraisal of branches of the human sciences, such as experimental psychology, which she tends, on occasion, to dismiss.
Steven D. Brown; RATS, ELEPHANTS, AND BEES AS MATTERS OF CONCERN. Common Knowledge 1 January 2011; 17 (1): 71–76. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2010-037
Download citation file: