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Dissertation Information for Paul Norris Edwards

- Paul Norris Edwards

- Ph.D.

- [No Discipline Recorded]

- University of California, Santa Cruz (USA) (1988)

- None

- None

MPACT Status: Incomplete - Not_Inspected

Title: The closed world: Computers and the politics of discourse

Abstract: "This dissertation considers the relationship of computers to American cultural politics. Using both philosophical and historical approaches, I develop a theory of tools and metaphors as integrally related elements of cultural interchange--""discourse."" I argue that computer tools can have profound unrecognized effects on the distribution of social power in their environments. Similarly, systematic computer metaphors such as the computer/brain analogy have political significance through their effects on self-understanding--ethical effects--and their reinforcement or weakening of other metaphorical systems. The dissertation describes the history, structure, and political implications of two major computer-supported discourses.

Closed-world discourse names the interaction of systems analysis and related disciplines with American political values and practices during the 1950s and 1960s. The roots of closed-world discourse lie in WWII systems science and technology--computer science, cybernetics, systems analysis, and others. I explore its relationship to postwar American historical consciousness, including four salient elements of postwar political culture: traditional American antimilitarism; WWII as paradigm for the exercise of global power; the conundrum of nuclear strategy; and the rise of high technology military forces. I contend that the combination of systems sciences and postwar historical conditions helped generate a conception of the political world as a closed system amenable to technical control.

Second-self discourse labels the collection of disciplines involved in the agonistic process of constructing the concept of mind. This conceptual production is not merely intellectual, but historical, cultural, and political in nature. Generated by wartime interdisciplinary collaboration, new social networks and institutions spread information theory rapidly throughout the sciences in the decade after 1945. These movements culminated in psychology's ""cognition revolution"" and in artificial intelligence. The genealogical ties of psychological knowledge to military technology exemplify a kind of ""cultural politics"": the embodiment of political values in concepts and tools.

The two discourses are both historically and conceptually related. Their effects on culture include changes in conceptual boundaries between humans and machines; science and politics; and gender roles. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of high technology war as an active, pervasive American cultural phenomenon"

MPACT Scores for Paul Norris Edwards

A = 1
C = 3
A+C = 4
T = 1
G = 1
W = 1
TD = 1
TA = 0
calculated 2012-07-31 09:43:03

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Students under Paul Norris Edwards

- Archer L Batcheller - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2011)

- Ann S. Zimmerman - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2003)
- R. Kelly Garrett - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2005)
- Jeremy P. Birnholtz - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2005)