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Meeting the Universe Halfway


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A groundbreaking work in feminist science studies as a component of understanding the science itself, in this case, quantum physics.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments ix
Part I. Entangled Beginnings
Introduction: The Science and Ethics of Mattering 3
1. Meeting the Universe Halfway 39
2. Diffractions: Differences, Contingencies, and Entanglements That Matter 71
Part II. Intra-Actions Matter
3. Niels Bohr's Philosophy-Physics: Quantum Physics and the Nature of Knowledge and Reality 97
4. Agential Realism: How Material-Discursive Practices Matter 132
Part III. Entanglements and Re(Con)figurations
5. Getting Real: Technoscientific Practices and the Materialization of Reality 189
6. Spacetime Re(con)figurings: Naturalcultural Forces and Changing Topologies of Power 223
7. Quantum Entanglements: Experimental Metaphysics and the Nature of Nature 247
8. The Ontology of Knowing, the Intra-activity of Becoming, and the Ethics of Mattering 353
Appendix A. Cascade Experiment, by Alice Fulton 397
Appendix B. The Uncertainty Principle is Not the Basis of Bohr's Complementarity 399
Appendix C. Controversy concerning the Relationship between Bohr's Principle of Complementarity and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle 402
Notes 405
References 477
Index 493

About the Author

Karen Barad is Professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy, and History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has a doctorate in theoretical particle physics.


"Karen Barad's Meeting the Universe Halfway makes fundamental contributions to science studies, philosophy, feminist theory, and physics--it is a rare book that can do that. This is an important, ambitious, readable, risk-taking, and very smart book, one to savor and grow with. Barad elaborates Niels Bohr's philosophy-physics in the light of feminist science studies to propose an account of material-discursive practices in scientific knowledge. Eschewing all romantic appropriations of quantum physics that evade strong knowledge claims, Barad argues that Bohr's interpretation of the experimental-theoretical nexus of quantum mechanics is crucial to understanding how observations and agencies of observation cannot be independent. 'Agencies of observation' are not liberal opinion-bearers, but situated entities made up of humans and non-humans in specific relationship. Reality is not independent of our explorations of it; and reality is not a matter of opinion, but of the material consequences of some cuts and not others made in the fabric of the world. As Barad reminds us, identities are always formed in intra-action. Ethical practices and consequences are intrinsic to the web. These issues are at the heart of debates about 'constructivism,' 'realism,' and the import of science studies, including feminist science studies, for configuring the nature of objective knowledge and the kinds of authorized actors in public worlds deeply shaped by science and technology."--Donna Haraway, author of Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium. FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse': Feminism and Technoscience "Meeting the Universe Halfway is the most important and exciting book in science studies that I have read in a long time. Karen Barad provides an original and satisfying response to a perennial problem in philosophy and cultural theory: how to grasp matter and meaning or causality and discourse together, without either erasing one of them or introducing an unbridgeable dualism. These theoretical abstractions come alive in Barad's vivid examples; she shows that uncompromisingly rigorous analysis of difficult theoretical issues need not sacrifice concreteness or accessibility. Her methodological lessons from the diffraction of light and her convincing interpretations of familiar puzzles and recent experimental results in quantum physics also display how science and science studies can genuinely learn from one another. What other book could be a 'must read' in such diverse fields as science studies, foundations of quantum mechanics, feminist and queer theory, and philosophical metaphysics and epistemology?"--Joseph Rouse, Wesleyan University "Meeting the Universe Halfway is highly original, exciting, and important. In this book Karen Barad puts her expertise in feminist studies and quantum physics to superb use, offering agential realism as an important alternative to representationalism."--Arthur Zajonc, coauthor of The Quantum Challenge: Modern Research on the Foundation of Quantum Mechanics

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