Administrative kinds and solidarity

What I found the most intriguing about the Hacking piece were the final, brief sections of the piece: “administrative kinds” and “self-ascriptive kinds” (380-382). Those were, sadly, the two portions that were the least expanded upon, perhaps because they followed in due course with the rest of the article and nothing further needed to be said. Or, perhaps because “a very general process of self-ascription of kinds has arisen”, Hacking chooses not to expand, at the time the chapter was composed, upon this process that is so general and, perhaps by consequence, less simple to classify (which itself could be an ironic commentary on the issue of kinds). This seemed, to me, to continue a general trend in the piece of relegating the more social categories of these “kinds” to a category of the social sciences that was mentioned with a good measure of (light-hearted) flippancy.

In any case, I felt that, to varying degrees, it was these two categories that were in play in the Healy article, in an understated manner, of course. These notions of “administrative kinds” fascinate me; I am intrigued by the premise that the very writing and checking of a box of a category can create a feeling of belonging (or not belonging, as the case may be) with some type of category. Immediately my mind turns to notions of solidarity and activism, which were considered as more of a reactionary rather than contributory movement. Perhaps, though, these concepts of solidarity, borne out of one’s identification with “panic-attacks” and “anxiety”, as Healy expanded upon and the medications, therapies and consultations that necessarily form a part of these illnesses, both create and perpetuate these administrative kinds in a similar way to Hacking’s design of looping in terms of “human kinds”.

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