Bios: Configurations of Technē and Logos
Paul Rabinow
Anthony Stavrianakis
Case One: Actual Configurations of Bios

The reason what follows is a case is that there is already a curated collection resulting from the inquiry. In order to become a case such a collection needs to be given a form appropriate to the determinations, configurations and assemblages of the actual, in this instance of bios. Ordering this multi-step process might be called syndialepsis. Syndialepsis [1] differs from metalepsis in that the form of intervention consists in an act of joint evaluation leading to a judgement.

[1] Marcus Aurelius, book 1, chapter 10: "[What Aurelius learned:] From Alexander the grammarian, to refrain from fault-finding, and not in a reproachful way to chide those who uttered any barbarous or solecistic or strange-sounding expression; but dexterously to introduce the very expression which ought to have been used, or providing confirmation [syndialepsis] about the thing itself, not about the word, or by some other fit suggestion."

Techne: Object

"So DNA by itself is useless, and it will probably just fall to pieces in the laboratory. You must be able to express what is in the DNA. And if you want to do anything with it, you need to copy it. That’s what organisms have learned how to do. So if we were to ask how should we treat all of this, we have to ask, "Well, what are we synthesizing?"

Techne: Mode

"In other words: if you’re looking at everything being done by sets of differential equations, E. Coli doesn’t know anything about that, so it’ll find ways of doing it by arithmetic. Right? Just add 1 plus 1 equals 2. So, everywhere, because that’s in the nature of evolution: if it looks insoluble to you, it’s certainly going to be insoluble to E. Coli."

Logos: Object

"And now, you have to ask yourself: am I degrading myself to reduce myself to the level of E. Coli? Why don’t I use all this sophisticated mathematics and so on—that’s nonsense, it obscures the issue, because you can’t evolve differential equations, but you sure can evolve ADAs and things like this. So, basically, we have to start to take that point of view. And that’s very important in putting things together, but you can’t manage that when the volume is increased a thousand-fold, which is an animal cell. So what happens is: proximity becomes important."

Logos: Mode

"Today we live in a period where we think we can describe everything in the world at atomic resolution, so we don’t have to bother to understand or prove anything. But if we are going to understand living things, we need to prove that we know how this gene is turned on or what disease does. It’s not enough to give just a description. That’s not science. That is something else.
So I believe that one has to start with this fundamental thing, that of the DNA which then has to be interpreted by a living system in order to do anything. It has no function as such. It has promise, but it only has promise by itself."

2nd Order Techne: Object

In what way was it a mean for us as anthropologists? First it has to be actual, i.e. no longer the buzzing present but an adapted/selected product of inquiry. This status enables us to curate it as a mean, among and between other actual configurations. This mean is the object selected/adapted capacities.

2nd Order Techne: Mode

Sydney Brenner told a room of synthetic biologists that the appropriate mode for constructing the techne for performing experiments, is pragmatic reduction. He was met by silence because the bios techne modes at play in the room were zoe (known as lego) and systems (known as biocad or the interactome).

What is the anthropological pragmatic reduction? Is there a scientific object which is living up to the technical claims of this mode? Brenner's claim is that capacities are in the cell and therefore qualify as bios. It would be smart to operate at this level if one were doing synthetic biology.

Brenner's claim is that the cell already performs pragmatic reductions. For a bios kind of object that's the place to look and learn from.

2nd Order Logos: Object

Where would you look to find out what is actual about a messy field situation.
We observed the practices in STIR; these were the discrete forms.
In SynBERC we had to look at the discordant configuration of the organization.

If one were simply to look at the discursive statements about ideas and values of the projects, one would miss the actual forms.

Forms pathways?

2nd Order Logos: Mode

This is a narrative mode based on the fact that we have curated the objects of inquiry into artifacts which can be ordered into a configuration of the actual. It's warranted by the process of inquiry (undertaken) and assertible by the narrative ordering.

What narrative mode is appropriate for a problematization of bios, logos and techne?

Dialepsis: "a grasping both hands: a power of holding, capacity, Diod. 3. 37. H. a separating or distinguishing in thought, oi* ('xi 8. makes no distinction, Arist. Incess. An. 3, fin. : a judgment, opinion, Polyb. 6. 56, 6, etc. III. a division : pi. the points of division or ramification, Arist. P. A. 2. I, 21., 2. 6, 7.