Interpreting AMAT’s objects

Technology and Human Reproduction FAQ’s

An analysis of the language employed in interpreting the objects of AMAT is important, as it is the place where actual and possible forms of social organisation, and their likely social and political consequences, are defined and contested[12]. As explanations for economic, cultural, educational and technological developments change, so to do the ways in which organisations affected by those changes (such as AMAT) can interpret or ‘read’ its objects. By ‘read’ we mean to extend the category of what normally falls under this verb. Certainly, reading out aloud parts of a text (remember sitting on the schoolroom mat?) could be claimed as the ‘reading’ here. But that response relies on a rather limited notion of reading. These types of surface readings rely on a belief that there is a one-to-one correspondence between language and the world – which, of course, there is not.

‘Reading’, however, is rather more than this; it is to develop and test out interpretations. These interpretations produce new ‘readings’ which require research, analytical and critical approaches, the examination of arguments, and communication with others in the community. In other words, since interpretation[13] suggests there is no essential meaning in the language itself, the reader (who interprets) actually creates the meaning in a particular social context. The value of that interpretation is, of course, itself a matter of interpretation. ‘Reading’ then, is another way of expressing the idea of interpretation. As is already apparent, this method (way of proceeding) stands against the ‘inoculation’ theory of reading where having ‘read’ something once, you never have to read it again. It is to suggest there are many different types of reading, and that different kinds of texts require different kinds of reading. The AMAT’s ‘objects’ then, have no meaning without a reader. And as the ways in which we read the discourses change, so too do the possibilities for action and vice versa. Even legislation is interpreted in judgements in Courts of Law and Acts of Parliament where interpretations are based on discursive change.

Suffice it to say that the AMAT objects require continual interpretation to produce ‘readings’. However, there is no final reading as through (re)search and discourse developments many perspectives will be discovered. This approach emphasises that knowledge is always politically interesting (and thus partial) and although different interests may increase knowledge, it does not imply that knowledge lacks neither objectivity or truth. Neither must this approach be understood as meaning that any logically possible interpretation will do, but rather, that each meaning or change of meaning is an expression of particular interests i.e., an exercise of power. Michel Foucault, the French philosopher, calls this power/knowledge.[14] This continual exercise of power relations over what counts as knowledge necessitates continual research on ‘human reproduction’ in order to facilitate the production of information for the ‘public good’ of New Zealand.