15.298 Don Ihde on technoscience

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Date: Mon Oct 08 2001 - 02:01:53 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 298.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 06:55:16 +0100
             From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi
             Subject: Distinguished philosopher Don Ihde on _Technoscience_

    Dear humanist scholars,

    It is a privilege and an exquisite hono(u)r for me to introduce stellar
    scholarly philosopher works of Don Ihde, who is a distinguished professor
    in the Department of Philosophy, and is also affiliated with the history
    of science and women's studies programs, at SUNY, Stony Brook.

    TECHNOSCIENCE: The study of *technoscience* examines cutting edge work in
    the fields of the philosophies of science and technology, and science
    studies. We read only living authors (such as Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour,
    Ian Hacking, Andrew Pickering, Sandra Harding, etc.) and occassionally Don
    Ihde has invited other authors to the seminar on *technoscience* for a
    "roast" (roastees have included Peter Galison, Hubert Dreyfus, Albert
    Borgmann, Andrew Feenberg, etc.). The seminar on *technoscience* has
    already resulted in a number of publications related to its activities and
    participants regularly present research results at major international
    conferences (Aarhus, Denmark; Vienna, Austria; CERN, Switzerland, etc.).

    Don Ihde, who has written several books on philosophy of technoscience and
    culture from a phenomenological-hermeneutic perspective. (The following
    books by Ihde will be used: Experimental Phenomenology; and Expanding
    Hermeneutics plus chapters from his forthcoming book Imaging Technologies:
    Plato Upside Down). Related perspective and theories from sociology,
    philosophy and media theory will be included in the reading material. The
    seminar will emphasize the following topics: 1) Philosophy of science and
    technology; 2) Sociology of science and technology; 3) Historical
    development of imaging in science and other professions; 4) Imaging in
    modern hi-tech professions.

    Imaging Technologies: Philosophical, Hermeneutic, design and STS
    Perspectives on Hi-tech Realities:-->

    Imaging in scientific and other professional culture has radically changed
    in its history. Today's images range from apparent isomorphic depictions
    to highly constructed ones, which are often composites created by computer
    processes. They are neither 'representations' nor 'texts' in the usual
    senses. But they are 'hermeneutic objects' which call for interpretive
    activity. Indeed, the richer these images are for showing interesting
    phenomena to professionals, the more the construction is needed for the
    'image'. The contention is that this is no longer a process which works
    well for 'modernist epistemology'; rather it calls for a much more
    'postmodernist hermeneutics' to be understood.

    WHOLE EARTH MEASUREMENTS by Don Ihde, State University of New York at
    Stony Brook






    [Theses of Don Ihde is discussed] Synthetic Biology: The Technoscience of
    Artificial Life John Sullins

    ABSTRACT: This paper uses the theory of technoscience to shed light on the
    current criticisms against the emerging science of Artificial Life. We see
    that the science of Artificial Life is criticized for the synthetic nature
    of its research and its over reliance on computer simulations which is
    seen to be contrary to the traditional goals and methods of science.
    However, if we break down the traditional distinctions between science and
    technology using the theory of technoscience, then we can begin to see
    that all science has a synthetic nature and reliance on technology.
    Artificial Life researchers are not heretical practitioners of some
    pseudoscience; they are just more open about their reliance on technology
    to help realize their theories and modeling. Understanding that science
    and technology are not as disparate as was once thought is an essential
    step in helping us create a more humane technoscience in the future.

    Complete article can be read at

    Why Not Science Critics? by Don Ihde

    Synthetic Biology: The Technoscience of Artificial Life by John Sullins,
    Philosophy Computers and Cognitive Science, Binghamton University,
    Binghamton New York, USA [These of Don Ihde is discussed]

    As soon as the new sciences of Complexity, Chaos Theory, and Artificial
    Life (hereafter referred to as AL), began to be noticed by the popular
    science press a kind of "honeymoon" period began. During this time these
    sciences were seen as the sexy new breakthrough theories that would
    eventually lead to our ability to solve all the problems of the world,
    from the cure for AIDS to the complete understanding and synthesis of
    living systems.[1] Recently a number of attacks have been leveled against
    the studies of Complexity and Chaos Theory in general and on the study of
    AL directly. The most damning of these attacks on AL has been launched by
    John Horgan in his article "From Complexity to Perplexity," printed in
    Scientific American (Horgan 6/95) and in his book The End of Science. In
    his article Horgan fiercely criticized the study of AL with the
    implication that the entire study is some kind of sham. Horgan states

    "Artificial Life--and the entire field of complexity--seems to be based on
    a seductive syllogism: There are simple sets of mathematical rules that
    when followed by a computer give rise to extremely complicated patterns.
    The world also contains many extremely complicated patterns. Conclusion:
    Simple rules underlie many extremely complicated phenomena in the world.
    With the help of powerful computers, scientists can root those rules out
    (Horgan 6/96, Pg. 107)."

    Complete article can be read at:


    In his very latest book, "Bodies in Technology" Professor Ihde begins with
    an analysis of embodiment in cyberspace, then moves on to consider ways in
    which social theorists have interpreted or overlooked these conditions. An
    astute and sensible judge of these theories, Don Ihde is a uniquely
    provocative and helpful guide through contemporary thinking about
    technology and embodiment, drawing on sources and examples as various as
    video games, popular films, the workings of e-mail, and virtual reality

    Thank you for listening!

    Arun Tripathi
    Research Assistant
    TUD, Germany

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