From: Teemu K <teemuta@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2010 17:56:00 +0300
David, Timothy and Siva, many thanks for your responses.
I made some investigations on the basis of your valuable comments and,
indeed, the idea of a concretely flying regulatory system seems to be a very
plausible interpretation here.
And although I shared David's feeling about Fawcett's translation
("regulatory flywheel") -- this is why I asked for help in the first place
-- I have now changed my mind slightly: this mechanism of Watt's functions
as a combination of gravity and centrifugal forces with considerable inertia
in it, regulating the rotation speed of the axis to which these 'flyballs'
are attached. When the speed goes up, so do the balls, which has a negative
feedback back to the speeding system (and vice versa). Inertia introduces a
certain degree of slowness to the system so that there is no immediate
response to changes.Here we have an automatic control of rotation which is
actually quite remarkable an invention.
So for Canguilhem, health is an (auto)regulatory mechanism like this when it
comes to the "possibilities of reaction" of organism. Here the idea of
inertia of regulation seems to be central, as just a few lines later,
Canguilhem emphasises the time lag that is necessary for inflammation to
develop: "the anti-infectous defence" has to be both "surprised and
mobilised" so that inflammation can develop.
Now I have to find out what on earth this flyball governor could be in
On Sat, Sep 4, 2010 at 1:49 AM, Siva Arumugam <sva2003@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Dear all,
> I'm a long time mailing list lurker. As a brief intro: I'm finishing up a
> PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and work on neoliberalism and
> sport in India from a science studies perspective.
> Canguilhem was influenced by the then nascent cybernetics literature. See,
> for example, his lecture on "Machine and organism" in 1947 and Ian Hacking's
> article in Economy and Society (Vol 27, no. 2, 202--216). I think a good
> translation is "flyball governor" as in the regulator mechanism that James
> Watt used in his steam engines in the late 18th century. It was a metaphor
> popularised by Norbert Weiner and others in the 1950s (or maybe earlier).
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