An Irresistible Analogy

Like Bourdieu’s description of the Kabyle house’s analogic relationship to the family, the seasons, and the cosmos, Harrison’s conceptualization of embryos as a hierarchy of semi-autonomous yet interacting parts bear an analogic resemblance to the institutional forms of life that were conventional in other parts of the social world of early twentieth century American science: the corporation, government bureaucracy, university administrations, and philanthropic foundations.  Except, for Harrison’s embryos if not for the Kabyle house, the characteristics of natural phenomena which are harmonious with the social structures that allow them to be thought of as such are taken to be because of things “really being that way” rather than “the right way of being.” The fetishization actually runs deeper for modern scientists, because they take their conceptual schemes to be natural and representative, instead of, as in the case of the Kabyle, conventional and customary. “We do this because this is the way things are” obscures the process of the reciprocal action of social structure on mental conceptions of nature more than “ We do this because we have always done it this way.”

Development as a harmonious equipotential system

Image