Latour Educates a Naive Michel Serres

This essay titled The Englightenment Without the Critique: A Word on Michel Serres' Philosophy showed a while back as a Google Alert. I immediately read it. Having worked through Conversations on Science, Culture and Time on many occasions, the variance between Latour and Serres was not surprising. However, the interview format of Conversations allowed for banter, a play, between the two that this sustained piece leaves less room for.

 Latour argues that you can see someone's theory by the manner in which they undertake their exegesis of a text, a kind of behavioural marker for core commitments:
But also,it is my conviction that every science, including the hard ones, is defined by a certain way of practising a peculiar kind of exegesis. Tell me how you comment on a scripture or an inscription, and I will tell you what sort of epistemology you hold on to. Understanding Serres's conception of the commentary is thus also a way of understanding his conception of the sciences. p85-86
There is much more in this Latour chapter, including a very interesting discourse on Serres's metaphysics, understanding of non-linearity, the interdependence of physics and poetry, and so on. Latour often differs sharply with Serres but his engagement does provide a valuable perspective on ways in which we might read Serres.


Ashok Karra has posted a review of Biogea on his blog titled Environmental Philosophy and the Question of Origins. The themes of his engagement and critque will be of interest to Serres readers through not unfamiliar. The many images and metaphors that Serres is famous for are often difficult and confusing when you've grown accustomed to other ways of writing and thinking. Serres is not everyone's cup of tea, as they say. I think you will, however, find it a thoughtful discussion and worth reading.


Michel Serres Awarded the 2013 Dan David Prize

Ynetnews, the English language Israeli publication of Yedioth Media Group, published a brief summary of the Dan David Prize awardees which this year include Michel Serres. The general criteria for the Tel Aviv University-based award are stated on the website as follows (image is also from the website):

The Dan David Prize covers three time dimensions - Past, Present and Future - that represent realms of human achievement. Each year the International Board chooses one field within each time dimension. Following a review process by independent Review Commitees comprised of renowned scholars and professionals, the International Board then chooses the laureates for each field. 
The Past refers to fields that expand knowledge of former times.
The Present recognizes achievements that shape and enrich society today.
The Future focuses on breakthroughs that hold great promise for improvement of our world.

Michel Serres was awarded the prize in the "Present" category as an acknowledgement of the influence he has had on contemporary society. In particular, the role of public intellectuals whose philosophical reflection and engagement promote greater well-being, is associated with this category. Michel Serres has certainly filled this role admirably as he has challenged us to deeper thought about the meaning of technology, communications, contracts, academic and research silos, as well as the propensity for violence and exclusion that many modern systems exhibit.

His work has not only been a critique of where we are failing, it has also caused us to consider hopeful directions such as the potential that a more synthetic frame of mind contains for our future well-being.  Congratulations from the many of us who have been inspired by your long decades of toil and the risks you have been willing to take to bring meaning back into our contemplations.