fix at pleasure

In addition to his substantial contributions to science (see Bogolyubov, Mikhailov & Yushkevich 2007) the eminent swiss mathematician and physicist ↑Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) also wrote texts accessible to the general public. Eulers didactics are absolutely admirable because you can dive into both ‘Elements of Algebra’ (1770) and ‘Letters of Euler on different subjects in physics and philosophy addressed to a german princess’ (1768-1774) without presuppositions, without any previous knowledge whatsoever. His ‘Elements of Algebra’ begin at virtually nothing and then build up to unforeseen heights. Here is in full the beginning of chapter one of section one of part one, … Continue reading

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transformation of reality

I well remember going to conferences in 2006 and 2007 where trendy social theorists presented papers arguing that these new forms of securitization, linked to new information technologies, heralded a looming transformation in the very nature of time, possibility—reality itself. I remember thinking: “Suckers!” And so they were. (Graeber 2011: 15) Ich erinnere mich an Vorträge aus den Jahren 2006 und 2007, in denen Gesellschaftstheoretiker auf der Höhe ihrer Zeit darlegten, dass diese neuen Formen der Verbriefung in Verbindung mit den neuen Informationstechnologien eine bevorstehende Transformation der Natur von Zeit und Möglichkeit—ja der Realität ankündigten. Ich weiß noch, dass ich … Continue reading

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einstein on sts

These quotes by ↑Albert Einstein (1879-1955) are a fine follow-up to ↵poincaré on sts: We have thus assigned to pure reason and experience their places in a theoretical system of physics. The structure of the system is the work of reason; the empirical contents and their mutual relations must find their representation in the conclusions of the theory. In the possibility of such a representation lie the sole value and justification of the whole system, and especially of the concepts and fundamental principles which underlie it. These latter, by the way, are free inventions of the human intellect, which cannot … Continue reading

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poincaré on sts

Well, it’s not really ↑Henri Poincaré (1854-1912)—eminent mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher of science—talking about science and technology studies (STS) proper. Rather he talks about the fundamentals of epistemology, the position of the natural sciences, and their relation to reality. And here we are at the core of STS. Wherever you read about STS it is stated that STS are founded on the sociology of knowledge and the sociology of science stemming from the former. The great achievement, absolutely indispensable for STS, was to relativize scientific knowledge and to look at it from a social constructivist vantage point. To … Continue reading

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war as text

Currently I am bit by bit re-reading Latour’s ‘We have never been modern’ (1993 [1991]). In one of the classes I am holding this term I am coercing the students to do this reading, and loyally I am joining in. Latour’s criticism of postmodernism induced an association inside me. Especially this paragraph: When we are dealing with science and technology it is hard to imagine for long that we are a text that is writing itself, a discourse that is speaking all by itself, a play of signifiers without signifieds. It is hard to reduce the entire cosmos to a … Continue reading

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evolution of creationism

I sincerely urge everyone to read David Montgomery’s article ‘↓The evolution of creationism‘—it’s just about five pages long and absolutely concise and clear. Abstract For centuries, natural philosophers, their scientific successors, and theologians alike sought to explain the physical and natural world. The now common cultural narrative of perpetual conflict between science and religion simplifies the arguments and struggles of the past and overlooks cross-pollination between those who embraced faith and reason as the keys to understanding earth history. When geologists unequivocally dismissed the idea of a global flood and recognized Earth’s antiquity, many conservative theologians acknowledged that there was … Continue reading

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latour’s cyberpunkish world

In a review of Bruno Latour’s ‘We have never been modern’ (Latour 1993 [1991]) by Barbara Tuchanska (1995) I just found the following paragraph trying to describe the world Latour paints: The reality of our everyday life is populated by computers that transform all spheres of life, frozen embryos, cable television networks, psychotropic drugs, whales equipped with radar sounding devices, sexuality changed by AIDS, poverty and the exploitation of man, totalitarian political systems destroying ecosystems, deforestation, the ozone hole, and thousands of other monsters that are the hybrids of nature and culture. Now, if you got time, compare that to … Continue reading

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talking science studies

This comes very handy as I am right now putting the final touches to the class ‘Science and Technology Studies’ which I’ll deliver the coming semester: Thomas Lohninger, founder of, and force behind ↑Talking Anthropology, has done an interview on science studies with ↑Ulrike Felt: ↓TA43—Wissenschaftsforschung [in German | 01:55:54]. I haven’t listened to it yet, but the comprehensive description and given links do look very promising. Hopefully the two hours are suited as introductory material for the students. … Continue reading

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cybernetic science fiction

  It simply is astounding what a collection you amass on your hard drives over time—and about how many of the collected things you simply forget. I just refound an unfinished draft version of Patricia S. Warrick’s ‘↑Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction‘ (1980). Don’t ask me how I got that … I simply can’t remember. Fact of the matter is that I never got the finished book, although it may well contain tons of water on my mills.     On the other hand there is the possibility that I jettisoned ‘Cybernetic Imagination’ on purpose, because I do fear that … Continue reading

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