Symmetry, asymmetry, and the real possibility of radical change: reply to Kochan

In his critique of my book Heidegger and Marcuse, Jeff Kochan (2006) asserts that I am committed to the possibility of private knowledge, transcendent truths, and individualism. In this reply I argue that he has misinterpreted my analysis of the Challenger disaster and Marcuse’s work. Because I do not dismiss Roger Boisjoly’s doubts about the Challenger launch, Kochan believes that I have abandoned a social concept of knowledge for a reliance on the private knowledge of a single individual. In fact, I consider Boisjoly’s observations just as social, if not as scientific, as the results of rigorous scientific study. Kochan’s reliance on a principle of symmetry derived from science studies to explain such politically charged technological controversies tends to mask the role of power and ideology in social life. Kochan interprets Marcuse as a failed Heideggerian who regresses from Heidegger’s social conception of human being to traditional individualism. I am accused of sharing this view. This interpretation overlooks the importance of the Hegelian–Marxist category of ‘real possibility’ in Marcuse’s work and so mistakes his critique of conformist politics for individualist romanticism. Marcuse always attempted to ground radical opposition in a community of struggle without abandoning the heritage of a long critical tradition. This view I willingly share. Keywords: Philosophy of technology; Principle of symmetry; Challenger disaster; Herbert Marcuse; Martin Heidegger; Knowledge .
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2006.09.003
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,305
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Jeff Kochan (2006). Feenberg and STS: Counter-Reflections on Bridging the Gap. [REVIEW] Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 37 (4):702-720.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Harry Collins & Trevor Pinch (2007). Who is to Blame for the Challenger Explosion? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (1):254-255.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

23 ( #204,634 of 1,932,568 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #114,865 of 1,932,568 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.