An anthropological, cultural and philosophical approach of nanosciences and nanotechnologies
Under the direction of X. Guchet (Paris I) and S. Loeve (Paris X). IRI, 2007-2008
The general intentions of this 3-years long seminar are :
- to stimulate a resolutely critical approach of nanosciences and nanotechnologies, not in the sense of a systematic accusation of sciences and technics, but from the point of view of the analysis of the effects and impacts that the development of the nanosciences will have human life, knowledge and experience. This work must avoid generalities and stay as close as it can to factual experiments and from the works of scientists. Misconceptions on technosciences are very common and too widely spread, this seminar’s ambition is to get rid of these and reform our comprehension of those questions by keeping up to date with research and development.
- to consider and think about the social uses and roles the « smart object » will potentially take, if it is equipped with oncoming nanotechnologies. It remains to be seen if it will dynamize the formation of amateurs of the arts inside critical spaces or rather intensify what Hannah Arendt described as the engulfment of the world of works of art inside an unstoppable process of consumption.
Projection of the movie « The silence of the nanos » from director J. Colin
P. Pajon, Senior lecturer in semiology at Université Stendhal Grenoble III and at Centre de Recherche sur L’Imaginaire.
Debate open by S. Loeve (IRI, Université Paris X).
B. Bensaude-Vincent, professor of philosophy and history of sciences at Université de Paris X – Nanterre.
The first edition of this seminar was devoted to the fabrication of representations, along different perspectives.
Nanosciences and philosophy of nature
This edition of the seminar aims at stimulating a resolutely critical approach of nanosciences and nanoteseminarchnologies, not in the sense of a systematic accusation of sciences and technics, but from the point of view of the analysis of the effects and impacts that the development of the nanosciences will have human life, knowledge and experience. This enterprise must avoid generalities and stay as close at it can to factual experiments and from the actual works of NST scientists.
Last year’s edition on the « nano-world » representation has shown that the research on nano sciences and technologies (NST) can’t be reduced to strictly utilitarian considerations. The research in the domain of electronics and molecular mechanic, which could at first be perceived as motivated by primarily utilitarian goals are in fact surprisingly, if not exclusively, motivated by a thirst for knowledge. This research will affect the conception we have of nature. This seminar will demonstrate that the research on NST is not merely expanding the relationship on pure exploitation of nature which supposedly defines modernity, but that it’s making a new conception of nature possible .
As Merleau-Ponty said at the end of the 1950′s: one can’t talk of nature without mentioning cybernetic, we think that it’s not possible to think nature today without raising the issue of nanosciences. This is precisely the attempt to re-think nature that we want to question this year. Last year’s seminar has shown us what kind of artifacts are made in labs, so this year will focus on this thought and try to show its diversity (there is not one but several conceptions of nature in the NST). The philosophical texts on nature, from Whitehead and Simondon, will help us characterize this new conception of nature which is emerging at the heart of the research on NST.
The NST are at the cutting edge of the contemporary creative technosciences, and they seem to open an age of pure processes where « becoming » would replace « being ». The very idea of a nature escaping our techno-scientist activities is fading and gives way for a massive perspective of instrumentalization of material processes as « tools for ». But can we remain there ? This will be our guiding line through this 07-08 edition of the seminar.
This edition our seminar on the Anthropological, cultural and philosophical aspects of the nanotechnologies will focus on this third and last year on the social dynamics associated to innovation in the domain of micro- and nano-technologies. This question will be associated to the European priority (since Lisbonne 2000 conference) toward the construction of a « European society of knowledge ». The European Commission has mandated a work-group whose report clearly indicates that nanotechnologies and converging technologies should be considered a real opportunity for the constitution of the European society of knowledge : a society where knowledge does not exclusively come from scientists and experts, but are built together with all the actors of society, including the public.
How will this program toward a society of knowledge articulate itself around the innovation and research dynamics carrying micro- and nano-technologies ? What does « co-building knowledge » mean ? What is the role for social sciences in this context and what kind of knowledge do they produce ? To answer these questions we will focus on the case of the cityof Grenoble.