Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
SystemThe Shaping of Modern Knowledge$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Clifford Siskin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035316

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035316.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use (for details see http://www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 18 December 2017

Prologue: “The Most Primitive Question”

Prologue: “The Most Primitive Question”

Chapter:
(p.1) Prologue: “The Most Primitive Question”
Source:
System
Author(s):

Clifford Siskin

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262035316.003.0001

The Prologues argues that the question “What is a system?” is a fundamental question across the disciplines, from quantum mechanics to the social sciences and humanities. To answer the question we need to see system not as an “idea” needing a definition but as a genre—a form that works physically in the world to mediate our efforts to know it. We can then identify features of that genre, such as scalability, that explain why system came to play such a central role in efforts to know the world for so long. We can also count systems and account for their becoming something to blame, as in “blaming the system,” and for the role they play in constituting infrastructure. The Prologue then begins this tale of how system has mediated knowledge by turning back to Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s lunar system, the entry of “system” into English, and a discussion of the role of The Re:Enlightenment Project’s touchstones—past and present, mediating technologies, connectivities—in shaping this book.

Keywords:   Quantum mechanics, Genre, Scalability, Blaming the system, Infrastructure, Galileo, Computable universe, Francis Bacon, Literary history, Re:Enlightenment

MIT Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.