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SyntheticHow Life Got Made$
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Sophia Roosth

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226440323

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226440637.001.0001

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(p.173) Conclusion

Sophia Roosth

University of Chicago Press

Biological knowing and biological making, paired under the twin signs of the factual and the artifactual, have been mutually constitutive for some time, but that fact is now manifestly evident in the way life scientists think, talk, and work. This chapter concludes that as “life itself” deliquesces and recrystallizes, reforms and deforms, in the hands of contemporary synthetic biologists, the relations between making and knowing are also radically reconfigured. The approach to making and knowing life that was inaugurated by synthetic biology inhabits a different sort of epistemic space than other methods typical of the life sciences. Namely, it is "interested making," making with a question attached. The objects of that making incarnate and exemplify answers, even as they point toward as-yet-unasked questions. Such objects of synthetic biology function synecdochically as vital manifestations of theories that convince and compel synthetic biologists to redefine “life itself” as a much broader, yet nonetheless malleable, entity. Synthetic demonstrates that theories of the biological underwrite theories of the social. Finally, this chapter claims that the story Synthetic tells is not limited to biology but is instead endemic to the contemporary sciences.

Keywords:   knowing, making, life itself, interested making

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