Social Epistemology as Fullerism, James H. Collier

SERRC —  August 14, 2018 — 14 Comments

Author Information: Jim Collier, Virginia Tech, jim.collier@vt.edu.

Collier, James H. “Social Epistemology for the One and the Many: An Essay Review.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7, no. 8 (2018): 15-40.

Jim Collier’s article “Social Epistemology for the One and the Many” will be published in four parts. The pdf of the article includes all four parts as a single essay, and gives specific page references. Shortlinks:

Introduction: https://wp.me/p1Bfg0-3ZN

Part One, Social Epistemology as Fullerism: https://wp.me/p1Bfg0-3ZY

Is it appropriate to call a public intellectual, a university-employed academic, a rock star?
Image by Ernesto de Quesada via Flickr / Creative Commons

 

Remedios and Dusek present social epistemology wholly as Fullerism; that is, current social epistemology amounts to glorifying Fuller’s supposed acumen and prolificacy.

Fullerism’s Narrow Scope

Fullerism oversimplifies the processes and aims of social epistemology. If Knowing Humanity in the Social World just extolled Fuller and explicated and his corpus, Remedios and Dusek would have written a book within an established genre in academic publishing—a very crowded genre, to be sure, of titles about august individual thinkers. However, in Remedios and Dusek’s presentation, Fullerism becomes conflated with social epistemology. Ultimately, Fullerism requires one to wait briefly and then react to Fuller’s next publication or scholarly incursion.

Fullerism’s origin story takes root in Fuller’s extraordinary education at “… two of the best programs in the world in philosophy and history of science” (we get class ranking for good measure), which led to work “… socially and historically richer by far than that of most philosophers and far more philosophically sophisticated than that of other sociologists” (10, emphasis mine). One will not miss the point amid the clunky phrasing that Fuller’s “breadth of reading in the humanities and social sciences is extraordinarily broad” (10).

Remedios and Dusek catalogue Fuller’s great learning by listing multiple subjects and fields about which he either possesses knowledge or “extensive familiarity.” Too, Fuller’s “range is far wider than most philosophers of science, including medieval scholastic philosophy” (emphasis mine). Readers should not ignore Fuller’s philosophical mastery and uncanny ability to get the root of a particular matter (11).[1]

Fuller deploys “great originality” (10) against the “many philosophers, historians, and sociologists of scientific knowledge [who] are simply failed scientists” (10). Remedios and Dusek’s unsubtle dig at the founders and early practitioners of STS tries to lend heft to Fuller’s broadsides against the field. Fullerism remains a game that Fuller wins by outsmarting any and all interlocutors. After all, Fuller “even if hyperbolic … has a point” (19).

Remedios and Dusek, and Remedios in his earlier book (2003), give notice that reader will encounter “Steve Fuller’s Social Epistemology.” For the precious few scholars informed on such matters the phrase gestures, in part, to an internecine scrum regarding the field’s proper origin and pursuit. Remedios and Dusek fortunately avoid the temptation to repot social epistemology’s history. Doing so would only rehearse a tired historiography that has hardened into a meme. Still, by not redressing this narrative, Remedios and Dusek reinforce the fiction that social epistemology is Fullerism.

Remedios and Dusek strike a deferential critical posture that also serves as a model for readers as they observe and assess Fuller’s performances. The reader should temper their judgments and entertain, say, a casual embrace of eugenics (116-117), or the past and future benefits of human experimentation (123), because Steve Fuller is a singular, prophetic thinker. Fuller sees the future—although the future, to be sure, looks suspiciously like Silicon Valley neoliberalism promulgated by entrepreneurs since the mid-1990’s.

Double Movement: Expansion in Contraction

In Knowing Humanity in the Social World, Fuller gets to impose his ideological will not only because of his unique personal powers, but because of how Remedios and Dusek treat the “social” in social epistemology. The book proceeds in a manner found in much of academic philosophy (and, so, in a way antithetical to a social epistemology). Broadly, academic philosophers tend to present arguments against a frictionless background to focus on definitional clarity, logical structure, internal consistency and the like. On certain practical grounds, one can understand attending less to cultural factors than, say, fallacies in a philosophical account.

However, as a consequence, Remedios and Dusek render the world as a passive constraint to the active knower. On the odd occasion, then, when the world pushes back, as in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, it is the judge that “largely misconstrued [a] major part of Fuller’s presentation” (72).

Remedios and Dusek forward a myopic view of social epistemology all the while extolling the grandiosity of Fuller’s corpus.[2] Owing, in part, to Fuller’s hyper-productivity, a tension arises immediately in Knowing Humanity in the Social World. While extolling his virtuosity (particularly in Chapter 1), the book fails to address adequately the majority of Fuller’s work.[3] Focusing on publications since the year 2000 and primarily on one, Humanity 2.0 (2011), of approximately two dozen total books, Remedios and Dusek pay little critical attention to Fuller’s collective body of work.[4]

A few articles play minor supporting roles. Moreover, Remedios and Dusek deal only with print media. As of this writing, 180 audio, and dozens of video, presentations reside online.[5] Certainly, one can sympathize with the monumental effort in dealing with such inordinate output; yet, Remedios and Dusek set out such a task in the title of their book.

Remedios and Dusek trade a great deal on the virtue of knowledge making, and makers, and the power of association. (The maker-versus-taker ethos underwrites the epistemic agent’s risk taking.) Fuller’s prolificacy demonstrates superior knowledge making, if not knowledge, and thus confers greater agency on himself and agents acting in kind.

A social epistemologist pre-2000 would have considered how and why knowledge-makers deploy resources in support of a singular epistemic source. That social epistemologist would also have questioned if epistemic power should accrue to agents, and their claims, by virtue of associating with other powerful agents. The unaccounted-for influence of powerful epistemic agents, and their surrogates, looms in the book’s background.

More importantly, Remedios and Dusek’s practically ignore Fuller’s critical reception. Even when the authors take up reception, they misapprehend the state of affairs. For example, Remedios and Dusek assert: “Despite the existence of several schools of STS, the Paris School led by Bruno Latour is the main competitor of Fuller’s social epistemology” (11). The rest of the passage gives a cursory explanation of Latour’s views, and Fuller’s opposition, but shares no evidence of responses by members of the Paris school, or actor-network theorists and practitioners, to social epistemology. Perhaps social epistemologists (read Fuller) view Latour as a “main competitor.” [6]

However, STS practitioners think little, or nothing, about social epistemology. One will not locate current social epistemology as a going concern in leading (or otherwise) STS journals, textbooks, or classrooms. I find no contrary evidence in Knowing Humanity in the Social World. Presenting social epistemology as Fullerism, Remedios and Dusek promote a narrative in which academic caricatures fight for supremacy on a dialectical battlefront. Ironically, the narrative evades how human knowledge amounts to a collective achievement (a central tenet of social epistemology itself).

Instead of taking up compelling questions that emerge from the contexts of reception, Remedios and Dusek conceive the social world much as the circumscribed space of a poorly taught philosophy course. In this class, a student tries explaining a commonplace or self-evident idea and, through the instructor’s haphazard application of the Socratic method, discovers greater uncertainty, more questions, and, more often than not, defaults to the instructor’s authority. Thus, in Fullerism, the student discovers the superiority of Fuller.

Where All Is Fuller

Pursuing Fullerism, we share our unrefined intuitions regarding human experimentation (113), or inspirations for doing science (67), or technological enhancement (94). Likely, we express our intuitions as absolutist declarations. Supplied with more information on, say, the efficacy of the Dachau hypothermia experiments, we are asked to revisit and refine our intuitions. To keep the lesson alive, the epistemic agent (Fuller being the model agent) can stir in other pieces of information, shift perspective, relay different social, historical and cultural frameworks, refer to controversies, supply voluminous references to the philosophical canon, or appeal to various philosophical schools of thought.

At each turn, we might further refine our ideas, retrench, grow bored—but in recognizing Fullerism’s true didactic aim we should rightly be impressed and supplicant. The performance of our epistemic agent should replace our certitude about obvious nonsense with gnawing doubt. Darwin was certainly a scientist, right (73)? Maybe eugenics (116-117) gets a bum rap—especially if we see human experiments “… in the cause of human progress and transcendence” (117). Sure … the overblown fear of humans “playing God” with technology just needs a little enlightened philosophical recalibration (87).

This philosophical dialectic depends on the active forms of agency attributed to Fuller. How epistemic agents learn, for example, remains captive to Fullerism’s dialectic. The “deep learning” of computers receives some attention (123-124), but the dialectical process appears an end in itself. Remedios and Dusek defer to displays of learning by Fuller and seem less interested in exploring how epistemic agents learn to make knowledge to act in the world.

Remedios and Dusek set out the distinctiveness of Fuller’s learning in the book’s opening:

Other than Steve Fuller’s work, there is no other discussion in current literature of sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK), science and technology studies (STS), sociology of science, philosophy of science, epistemology of science, and analytic social epistemology on the impact of scientific knowledge on humanity. (emphasis mine, 1)

The claim’s bold start, dissipated by an ending cluster of vague prepositional phrases, compels the reader to consider Remedios and Dusek’s credulity. How could half a dozen fields of academic inquiry investigating science (to varying degrees) successfully avoid a single discussion of the impact of scientific knowledge on people?

Knowledge Becomes a Means to Transcend

We find, reading further, the matter at hand is not scientific knowledge per se; rather, knowing how to perform the accounting necessary for best achieving a preordained human future. Remedios and Dusek, like Fuller, abide in the unquestioning faith that “nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology” (1) will develop and converge and, inevitably, humans will transcend their biology.[7] For the next thirty years until the Singularity, we can train ourselves to tamp down our agnosticism.

Lest we forget, we can rely on Fuller’s “very well informed and richly informed historical account with delineation of varieties of theodicy” (my emphasis, 72) that include discussions of Leibniz, Malebranche and Gassendi. For Remedios and Dusek, historical analysis frequently translates into Fuller’s citational range; thus, a good argument depends on the ability to bring numerous references, preferably unexpectedly related, to bear on an issue.

For example, Fuller wins a debate with A. C. Grayling (in 2008) on intelligent design because “the historical part of Fuller’s argument is very accurate concerning early modern science. Figures such as Boyle, Newton, Leibniz, and many other figures of seventeenth-century science saw their religion as tied with their science” (my emphasis, 72). A trivially true even if “very accurate” point.

In the same paragraph, Remedios and Dusek go on to list additional clever and apt observations made by Fuller. As the adjectival emphasis suggests, Remedios and Dusek direct the reader to allow the perspicacity of Fuller’s insights suffice as an effective argument. As Remedios and Dusek lightly resist Fuller’s loose historical claims (particularly in Chapter 5), they give counter-arguments, from themselves and other scholars, short shrift. Fuller’s proactive encyclopedism assures us that we both reside in, and can actively reconstruct, the western intellectual tradition. In truth, Fullerism entails that we willingly suspend disbelief during Fuller’s ideational performance.

The social world of the book’s title remains largely unburdened by cultural complexities, and populated sparsely with one-dimensional interlocutors. Fullerism, then, is both plenum and void—space completely filled with the matter of Fuller’s creation, and void of external influences and meaning in collective effort.

Contact details: jim.collier@vt.edu

References

Barbrook, Richard and Andy Cameron. “The Californian Ideology.” Science as Culture 6, no. 1 (1996): 44-72.

Barlow, John Perry. “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.” 1996. https://bit.ly/1KavIVC.

Barron, Colin. “A Strong Distinction Between Humans and Non-humans Is No Longer Required for Research Purposes: A Debate Between Bruno Latour and Steve Fuller.” History of the Human Sciences 16, no. 2 (2003): 77–99.

Clark, William. Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University. University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Ellul, Jacques. The Technological Society. Alfred A. Knopf, 1964.

Frankfurt, Harry G. On Bullshit. Princeton University Press, 2005.

Fuller, Steve. Social Epistemology. Bloomington and Indianapolis, University of Indiana Press, 1988.

Fuller, Steve. Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the End of Knowledge: The Coming of Science and Technology Studies. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993.

Fuller, Steve. Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Fuller, Steve. “The Normative Turn: Counterfactuals and a Philosophical Historiography of Science.” Isis 99, no. 3 (September 2008): 576-584.

Fuller, Steve. “A Response to Michael Crow.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 25 November 2015. https://goo.gl/WwxFmW.

Fuller, Steve and Luke Robert Mason. “Virtual Futures Podcast #3: Transhumanism and Risk, with Professor Steve Fuller.”  Virtual Futures 16 August 2017. https://bit.ly/2mE8vCs.

Grafton, Anthony. “The Nutty Professors: The History of Academic Charisma.” The New Yorker October 26, 2006. https://bit.ly/2mxOs8Q.

Hinchman, Edward S. “Review of “Patrick J. Reider (ed.), Social Epistemology and Epistemic Agency: Decentralizing Epistemic Agency.” Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2 July 2018. https://ntrda.me/2NzvPgt.

Horgan, John. “Steve Fuller and the Value of Intellectual Provocation.” Scientific American, Cross-Check 27 March 2015.  https://bit.ly/2f1UI5l.

Horner, Christine. “Humanity 2.0: The Unstoppability of Singularity.” Huffpost 8 June 2017. https://bit.ly/2zTXdn6.

Joosse, Paul.“Becoming a God: Max Weber and the Social Construction of Charisma.” Journal of Classical Sociology 14, no. 3 (2014): 266–283.

Kurzweil, Ray. “The Virtual Book Revisited.”  The Library Journal 1 February 1, 1993. https://bit.ly/2AySoQx.

Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Penguin Books, 2005.

Lynch, Michael. “From Ruse to Farce.” Social Studies of Science 36, vol 6 (2006): 819–826.

Lynch, William T. “Social Epistemology Transformed: Steve Fuller’s Account of Knowledge as a Divine Spark for Human Domination.” Symposion 3, vol. 2 (2016): 191-205.

McShane, Sveta and Jason Dorrier. “Ray Kurzweil Predicts Three Technologies Will Define Our Future.” Singularity Hub 19 April 2016. https://bit.ly/2MaQRl4.

Pein, Corey. Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley. Henry Holt and Co. Kindle Edition, 2017.

Remedios, Francis. Legitimizing Scientific Knowledge: An Introduction to Steve Fuller’s Social Epistemology. Lexington Books, 2003.

Remedios, Francis X. and Val Dusek. Knowing Humanity in the Social World: The Path of Steve Fuller’s Social Epistemology. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2018.

Rushkoff, Douglas. “Survival of the Richest: The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind.” Medium 5 July 2018. https://bit.ly/2MRgeIw.

Shera, J.H. Sociological Foundations of Librarianship. New York: Asia Publishing House, 1970.

Simonite, Tom. “Moore’s Law Is Dead. Now What?” MIT Technology Review 13 May 13, 2016. https://bit.ly/1VVn5CK.

Talbot, Margaret. “Darwin in the Dock.” The New Yorker December 5, 2005. 66-77. https://bit.ly/2LV0IPa.

Uebel, Thomas. Review of “Francis Remedios, Legitimizing Scientific Knowledge: An Introduction to Steve Fuller’s Social Epistemology. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 3 March 2005. https://ntrda.me/2uT2u92

Weber, Max. Economy and Society, 2 vols. Edited by Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. Berkeley, CA; London; Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1922 (1978).

[1] In the book, getting to the root of the matter frequently amounts to the revelation that it isn’t what you think it is or thought it was.

[2] As of 13 May 2018, Fuller’s vita (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/staff/sfuller/vita1.docx ) comes in at 76 pages.

[3] Remedios can point to his first book Legitimizing Scientific Knowledge as wrestling with the first half of Fuller’s career. Thomas Uebel’s review, for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (https://ntrda.me/2uT2u92) notes a similar problem in not addressing the reception of Fuller’s work—the “paucity” of responses to counter arguments: “Calling notions contested does not absolve us from the task of providing defenses of the alternatives put forward.”

[4] Fuller’s “trilogy of transhumanism” all published by Palgrave Macmillan: Humanity 2.0: What It Means to Be Human Past, Present and Future (2011), Preparing for Life in Humanity 2.0 (2012), and The Proactionary Imperative: A Foundation for Transhumanism (co-authored with Veronika Lipinska, 2014).

[5] While writing this essay, I received notice of yet another book authored by Fuller Post-Truth: Knowledge As A Power Game (Anthem Press).

[6] Remedios and Dusek put Latour and Fuller into conversation predominantly in Chapter 2. As framed, Fuller “speaks at” views held by Latour (uncharitably summarized by Remedios and Dusek), but no direct exchange, or dialectic, occurs. Emblematic of this state of affairs is a “debate” between Latour and Fuller in 2002 (published in 2003), regarding what defines ‘human’ and ‘non-human’, that concludes with this editorial note: “[The debate] was least successful, perhaps, in making the issues clear to the audience, especially to those who were not familiar with the work of Bruno Latour and Steve Fuller” (98).

[7] Slightly different iterations of the trinity that will converge to give us the Singularity include Ray Kurzweil’s “nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Kurzweil), and “genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics” (https://bit.ly/2LZ42ZB).

14 responses to Social Epistemology as Fullerism, James H. Collier

  1. 

    Who exactly first used the term ‘Fullerism’ and where/when please? Thanks.

  2. 

    I am fairly certain I did not originate the term. Off the top of my head I know of no full treatment of the term or idea. I define and use ‘Fullerism’ in this essay in an idiosyncratic way for purposes of my analysis. The elliptical nature of the question suggests you wish to drop another shoe … please feel free to do so.

    • 
      Gregory Sandstrom (@risengrisha) August 14, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      Please excuse, who are you? It just says, SERRC. (Wasn’t a new leader appointed by Steve last year?) Also, please clarify, what does ‘fairly certain’ mean? Either you made it up, i.e. coined it yourself or you didn’t. My question is simply historical & fact-finding in character. Nothing beyond truth-seeking. Either this and the previous essay at SERCC are your first uses of the term ‘Fullerism’, or you’ve used it previously or spoken it in public. Which is it? Personally, as for me, I had never seen or heard that particular term before your recent 2 articles here, other than referring to a Baptist minister from the 18th century. Is ‘Fullerism’ in Remedios & Dusek’s book? If so, did you get it from them or not? The Arago Effect rule of ‘scientific priority’ is at stake, whoever you are; this is now not a matter for ‘uncertainty.’ Thanks.

    • 
      Gregory Sandstrom (@risengrisha) August 19, 2018 at 11:58 pm

      More directly then: is the person using the name SERRC in this thread Adam Riggio (current appointed Editor of SERRC) or James Collier (Founder, Host & Former Editor of SERRC) who says “I am fairly certain I did not originate the term [i.e. ‘Fullerism’]”? Did Adam or Jim coin the term ‘Fullerism’? Gentlemen, let’s not post-truth this please.

      Also, you say: “Off the top of my head I know of no full treatment of the term [‘Fullerism’] or idea.”

      Ok, do you know after thinking about it or even just off the top of your head now of *any* treatment, i.e. usage of the term ‘Fullerism’ before yours? You “define & use” it, yes, but did you make it up yourself or not? In some cases it doesn’t really matter who coins the term, whereas in others it is quite important due to familiarity & intent.

      Here’s an alternative look at how an -ism came to be attached to a 20th c. scholar / public intellectual (whose ‘brand’ didn’t take off until his mid-50s). https://www.macleans.ca/archives/marshall-mcluhan-the-high-priest-of-pop-culture/

      • 

        Goodness … I felt quite certain using first-person—combined with the possessive pronoun ‘my’—in the comment section of a single-authored essay (and, moreover, given our personal correspondence since your previous comment) would lend sufficient identification. Now, the pubic unmasking!—Jim Collier here.

        Why the pedantry (hence my previous reference to the other shoe)? As a factual statement, I don’t know who originally coined the term ‘Fullerism’ with regard to Steve Fuller’s work. My continuing assumption—Fuller has written much and much has been written or said about his work. Thus, I am “fairly certain” I did not originate the term. Nevertheless, I believe I use the term uniquely in my essay. Given the narrow sphere of influence in which my essay will operate, I see determining priority of the term ‘Fullerism’ of the lowest stakes.

        While a sociology of “isms” and disciplinary origin myths might be of (very) academic interest, I don’t see the comparison to McLuhan (except your personal interest) more than, say, a comparison to Theodor Mommsen.

        If you wish the last word, please feel free.

      • 
        Gregory Sandstrom (@risengrisha) August 23, 2018 at 2:22 pm

        Hi Jim, Since SERRC was handed over to someone else, it seemed like a legitimate question. Thanks for clarifying that the term ‘Fullerism’ is now connected with your name first and foremost.

        “I don’t see the comparison [of Steve Fuller] to McLuhan.”

        Neither do I, other than quite superficially. Glad we agree on that, though I’ve never heard you speak of him. The linked article speaks a bit about how the term ‘McLuhanism’ came to be (describing a rocket), which I found relevant given my questions now are about how the term ‘Fullerism’ came to be – the etymology. The other comparison you raise with your teacher & mentor I don’t wish to make as I don’t find it fitting.

        As for priority rule & first usage of ‘Fullerism,’ what you appear now to be saying is that somehow you don’t actually know where that specific, exact term came from, though you hint that it might possibly have an origin of some kind. The origin of the term itself, however, is something you do not care about at all, is that right? Rather, you offer simply that you *could not* have been the first person to have used it in either spoken or written form, as a truth path to consider. So, ‘first spoken usage’ of ‘Fullerism’ is not a responsibility you wish to accept. Does this correctly reflect your position?

        Likewise, we now know, or at least can infer from what you’ve written, that you are aware of no previously published usage of ‘Fullerism’ in writing other than your own. Yes? Yours is the first time ‘Fullerism’ was used on SERRC (a Search on SERRC site only hits Jim Collier’s current article series for the term ‘Fullerism’), it has never been used in the Journal of SE (https://www.tandfonline.com/action/doSearch?AllField=Fullerism&SeriesKey=tsep20 – 0 Matches) under your editorship or since & was not found by you in anything you’ve read up to now.

        Are those the facts being properly represented, Jim? Simply the facts is what I’m asking you for, with no interpretation. Where did the term ‘Fullerism’ come from?

        “If you wish the last word, please feel free.”

        The last word should be yours, of course, since the question is directed at you. What I wish for is to hear you clearly and unequivocally say you either knowingly have or believe you have not just published the first piece that refers to Dr. Steve Fuller’s ideas, or at least the way you believe Remedios & Dusek view/treat/augment Steve, as either an ideology or a paradigm that you call ‘Fullerism.’ Everyone in SERRC knows how much Steve means/has meant to you personally, Jim.

        Why not just close the loop & tell us the backstory of why you think the time is right now for you to publish your ‘Fullerism’ in critique of two other SERRC-affiliated scholars and indeed, of Fuller himself? Among the several hundreds of scholars who could possibly be ‘accused’ (i.e. the governing tone of your ‘critical review’ of Remedios & Dusek’s book) of even accepting whatever ‘Fullerism’ could mean, surely there is no doubt that you would be among the Top List (even in the way you critique it!). To deny this would be to fly in the face of reality.

        I am framing it starkly this way & asking these questions as more than just a philosophical exercise because they seem relevant in case an attempt is being made to try to redefine or simply to newly define their own ‘finally independent’ version of ‘collective’ social epistemology in opposition to one of the leading voices in the loosely-coupled generalist theory-heavy field.

        This situation is surely not an easy one to negotiate for you, Jim, so I’m sure there are others who can empathise with you (it seems another comment here demonstrates that). In fact I too find myself currently in a necessary position of repudiating a former mentor on a particular topic of disagreement right now. It’s partially a cross-generational thing. So please know that your ‘act’ itself, an obvious act of ‘rebellion,’ is likely not too ‘foreign’ to understand for many scholars younger than you (and even those outside of the USA).

        Much nevertheless seems disguised around your current proposition in SE land, since you have not offered a coherent, convincing or believable alternative to ‘Fullerism’ as a primary approach to SE. To me that is perhaps the most ironic & at the same time remarkable feature of this exchange.

        Respectfully,
        Gregory

  3. 

    James Collier’s essay makes the excellent point that it would be a shame if “social epistemology” came to regarded as a name of a cult. It’s especially important to not that Fuller himself doesn’t want to become and object of hero-worship. He’s very well-read and intelligent, but probably wrong about some things.

  4. 

    Thanks Gregory.

    The conclusion you draw in your opening paragraph does not follow.

    Again, and directly, I neither know the origin of the term ‘Fullerism’, in reference to Steve Fuller’s work, nor its etymology. I use and define the term for the purposes of my argument. In the terms of my argument, the etymological question wildly misses the point.

    You speak of a personal relationship about which you know almost nothing. Any inferences you draw as a result are unfounded (I am being kind here).

    The timing of the essay comes in relation to Val’s invitation (this March I believe) that I review the book. As I mention in a footnote in my essay, Francis gave a talk about the book in its infancy at the SERRC meeting in May 2017. On reading the book this spring, I found that Francis and Val raised a number of issues about which I had been thinking for some time. I wrote a longer review (as the occasion seemed appropriate) anchored in the text that included my thinking on the matters raised.

    As I thought I conveyed clearly in my piece, I agree with Francis and Val that Fuller’s thinking has changed. I largely agree with how they characterize those changes. And if they’re right, I am not on board, in particular, with the metaphysics and the technological determinism at root of these changes. Fullerism, then, is not social epistemology (or is social epistemology in a key I cannot recognize).

    Again, you know nothing about “this situation.” I am not repudiating Steve (I am not sure what that would mean in this instance). I disagree—strongly, to be sure—with certain ideas and their advocates. Steve can do as he will—as he has always done. But I don’t need to follow (still, academic parasitism remains a complex phenomenon). It’s frivolous and reductive to think I am engaged in some angsty scholarly Oedipal drama.

    To your last point—my “coherent, convincing or believable alternative to ‘Fullerism'” is in the founding and work of the SERRC—a practical approach to collaborative scholarly knowledge making. My alternative, then, is actually doing social epistemology (limited, yes, by—among other things—the norms of academic scholarship which I seek to transform with some real, but very limited, success). I have advocated and provided opportunities for this practical work for many years. That you’ve missed the point of our shared endeavor truly perplexes me.

    • 
      Gregory Sandstrom (@risengrisha) August 23, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      “I neither know the origin of the term ‘Fullerism’, in reference to Steve Fuller’s work, nor its etymology.”

      Not a lot of knowledge about ‘Fullerism’ except for how you interpret it yourself, then? Do you first admit that there *was* (inevitably) an origin of the term? That is, do you agree the term ‘Fullerism’ didn’t magically self-organise into the lexicon. ; )

      Nevertheless, you used the term in print, Jim, that’s my main point; a historical & empirical one. So you either got ‘Fullerism’ from somewhere/someone else or made it up yourself. I am simply asking: which is it? Would you please give a clear answer about it? Did you hear ‘Fullerism’ from someone or anyone & if so, whom did you hear it from before using it yourself?

      “In the terms of my argument, the etymological question wildly misses the point.”

      That may be. But the ‘other stuff’ (e.g. “if they’re right, I am not on board”) nevertheless follows from why (i.e. the purpose) you coined “Fullerism” because in my view NOBODY is going to take credit for it. But with the digital record – I am now formally asking you to check if ‘Fullerism’ has or has not been used in the Journal of Social Epistemology, which you are the former editor of – now the evidential Arago Effect priority rule credit for coining ‘Fullerism’ appears to fall solely upon you.

      So, congrats, Jim! or please identify someone else & when in your place.

      “The inquiry of truth, which is the love-making or wooing of it, the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it, and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature.” – F. Bacon

      • 

        To your first question: You can locate my knowledge of ‘Fullerism’ in my essay.

        To your second question: Why the badgering? I am not on trial. My previous answer stands—I do not know if I originated the term or not. Perhaps the origin story of the term ‘social epistemology’ would be instructive. As Fuller can attest, one can independently “discover” or “originate” a term.

        I use the term Fullerism to distinguish social epistemology from the corpus of Steve’s work; that is, I argue that Fuller’s work does not comprise the totality of social epistemology. Francis and Val put very little light between Fuller’s work and social epistemology as an area of inquiry.

        On the Arago Effect … Okay, sure. If you say so. What’s at stake here exactly? I’ll skip the word search. But it’s cool if you want to do it. Then, you can be the original discoverer of who originated the term!

  5. 
    Gregory Sandstrom (@risengrisha) August 24, 2018 at 1:07 am

    “I do not know if I originated the term or not.”

    Don’t worry, Jim. It turns out that I did postdoctoral research some years back that turned into a study of exactly this kinda thing. There was a memory loss of some kind, but the evidence remained in print. In this case, the person was not actually the first person to publish the neologism in print, but thought they were and desperately wanted to be (i.e. to rewrite history).

    Ok then, let’s focus on this notion of you not knowing if you originated ‘Fullerism’ or not, but having used it nonetheless. Do you remember when the idea to use the term ‘Fullerism’ in your reply to Remedios & Dusek first entered your mind? That might help give us a clue.

    Do you remember when you first wrote ‘Fullerism’ down? Was it on a computer or tablet, or phone, notepad, annotation in an article, etc.? Do you remember if you were thinking of any other usage or if it just popped into your mind? This presumably must have been fairly recently, within a few months or even weeks.

    I’m sure you can understand, Jim, that when it comes to identifying priority in scholarship, it is quite common, at least in my experience speaking with scholars, that they can and are usually openly willing and even want to share when they can to remember. In the case that I was investigating as a sociologist of science detective, the ones who actually seem to have coined the term had a slightly different meaning than those that followed, which in my opinion significantly improved upon their alternatively focused original usage. So you are surely right about that aspect, Jim. Nevertheless, while they openly admit they had no precursor to their knowledge in their first usage of the term (this was said almost 10 years after the fact), they do not deny it is possible that someone somewhere else used it for different purposes. And while that is exactly what I discovered – multiple independent origins of the same term, without knowledge of each other – the uses I found only came after theirs and for that reason I conclude tentatively that theirs is the first usage of the term on record.

    The other possibility is that perhaps you don’t consider the term ‘Fullerism’ an important one for the ‘field of social epistemology.’ At least the way you use it in the article above, it is purely a pejorative term, one that distorts or deviates from ‘proper’ social epistemology, which is never named.

    “I argue that Fuller’s work does not comprise the totality of social epistemology.”

    Yes, I fully agree with you, and apparently also @dickmoodey that Steve’s work doesn’t or should eclipse ‘social epistemology’. So then who actually is arguing *against* you that ‘Steve Fuller’s work comprises the totality of social epistemology’? I’ve never heard such a claim made by anyone.

    This seems vastly over-stated & even ghost chasing from a distance, Jim. I’m pretty sure that Francis & Val do not think what you impute to them and that I’ve never met a person holding such views as you seem to think people do hold. Is there another (any) ‘Fullerist’ alive who thinks what you describe as ‘Fullerism’? SERRC is likely the first ‘home community’ in which such a person might be found who could possibly fit your profile of a proper argument partner. It would be a shame if you were ghost chasing for people who hold an ideology – Fullerism – that actually nobody had ever thought to hold except for the person who coined the term, though a much different variety metaphysically and technologically speaking than Remedios’ & Dusek’s views of Fuller & social epistemology.

    It would be helpful if you were on-board trying to get to the bottom of this peculiar & dissonant-sounding term, which you seem now intent on promoting seemingly as an apophatic form of critique of your former mentor in this series.

    • 

      Gregory

      Thank you for your time and attention to my work. Clearly, we understand the arguments and issues at hand in incommensurable ways. If you wish to try a more deliberate approach on the SERRC, or in another forum, let’s discuss it between us. The comments section of one part of a four part article seems insufficient. Thank you.

      • 

        My question is so simple that it is altogether baffling how you have responded, Jim. So simple. This has nothing to do with “arguments and issues.” It’s just about whether you are willing to publicly take ownership for coining ‘Fullerism’ or not. It seems you are not willing, for whatever personal, non-professional reason.

        The professional would immediately say where they got an idea from, when it came to them, what they were thinking about at the time, what the context was, etc. In other words, answer freely. All that is clear so far is that you reject Remedios & Dusek’s approach to Fuller’s work. Yet you have spoken falsely about their views and tried to put a label on them, so it would not surprise me if they don’t respond to you partially as a result. You are welcome for my timely responses to your coinage of ‘Fullerism’.

        What does coining ‘Fullerism’ have to do with “arguments and issues,” Jim? Nothing. Obviously I’ve picked a ripe moment for a simple fact-finding question. So far, we see you eluding it. And that is very interesting to witness because the elusiveness is so blatant in this case.

        Are you asking us to believe you wrote the neologism ‘Fullerism’ in your paper 27 times, a review that labelled Remedios & Dusek as proponents of ‘Fullerism,’ without at all even knowing it was a neologism or thinking it just *MIGHT* be a neologism? We are to believe that not for a single moment arrested did you stop to consider if using ‘Fullerism’ as you have might not be such a good long-term idea?

        In any case, to me the obvious answer is too simple to spend more time on it. There seems to be something that stops you from answering openly. Good wishes with the rest of the series.

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