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Life, War, Earth: "A wonderfully stimulating conceptual toolbox."

By Carla Nappi
NBn/New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

protevi_life coverRight now, humanists across very different disciplinary fields are trying to create the kinds of cross-disciplinary conversations that might open up new ways to conceptualize and ask questions of our objects of study. John Protevi’s new book offers a wonderfully stimulating conceptual toolbox for doing just that. Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) creates (and guides readers through) a dialogue between the work of Gilles Deleuze and some key works and concepts animating contemporary geophilosophy, cognitive science, and biology. In doing so, Protevi’s work also has the potential to inform work in STS by turning our attention to new possibilities of thinking with scale, and with a process-oriented philosophy (among many other things). A first introduction lays out some of the basic conceptual tools and orientations emerging from Deleuze’s work, and a second introduction uses some of these ideas to explore the work of Francisco Varela in terms of a political physiology of “bodies politic.” After this pair of introductions, the following chapters focus on particular case studies, ranging from ancient and modern warfare, to hydropolitics, to the notion of a “socially mediated neuroplasticity” in cognitive science, to the role of affect in understanding the Occupy Wall Street movement, to the “eco-devo-evo” of Mary Jane West-Eberhard, and much, much else. It’s a fascinating study that has much to offer for the reader who is interested in the creative and analytic possibilities of bringing continental philosophy to bear in science studies.

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