Author: Gavrilenko Stanislav
Associate Professor, Department of Ontology and the Theory of Knowledge, Faculty of Philosophy, Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU).
27 Lomonosovsky ave., bldg 4, Moscow 119991, Russia.
How the Historу of Scientific Observation Is Written / Logos. 2020. № 3 (136). P. 110-119
Keywords: scientific observation
In Search of an Evanescent Object: Science and Its History / Logos. 2020. № 1 (134). P. 1-28
annotation: The authors start from the premise that science is an empirical manifold and then
examine different ways of dealing with it. The traditional essentialist approach
would construct a single “essence,” a unique and normative set of distinctive qualities
that is to be found with minor variations in any branch of science. The usual
elements in such a set are the concepts of fact, method, theory, experiment, verification
and falsification, while any social, political and cultural processes or factors
are discounted as external and collateral. This approach would provide a
relatively straightforward account of what science is and reliably distinguish science
from everything that is not science so that its claim to autonomy would be
supported by a normative “strong” image of science. The history of science would
then be reduced to a selection of illustrations of how that essence was formed and
implemented. The most well-known versions of this essence and strong image are
derived from a logical positivist philosophy of science and from the self-descriptions
of many scientists, which are usually considered the authoritative explanation
of science and often referred to when science is popularized. The authors point
out some considerations that cast doubt on this privilege of self-description. Furthermore,
scientificity requires that science itself become an object of specialized research.
Studying the activities of scientists and scientific communities using the empirical
methods of sociology, history and anthropology has exposed a divergence between
the normative “strong” image and the actually observed variety of sciences, methodologies,
ways to be scientists, etc. When those empirical disciplines are applied to science, they do not provide an alternative “strong” image of it, but instead construct a relativized and pluralistic “weak” one. The authors locate the crux of the dilemma of choosing between these images of science at the point where the desire to study science meets the urge to defend its autonomy. The article closes by briefly describing the current state of the history of science and outlining the possible advantages of choosing the “weak” image.
Keywords: science; science studies; history of science; strong image of science; weak image of science.
Actor-Network Theory: An Unfinished Assemblage / Logos. 2017. № 1 (116). P. 1-40
annotation: This article outlines the context of two Logos issues, “Anti-Latour,” “UAVs, Elevators, Scallops, Zimbabwe Bush Pump,” and “New Ontologies.” These three issues issues are based on the idea of an atlas meant to map out the intellectual landscape of actor-network theory (ANT) and flat ontologies. Over the course of a few decades of its existence, ANT has evolved from a singular approach in science and technology studies into a transdisciplinary family of theories joined together by a set of basic properties, partial connections, and common references. This article maps out the trajectories of ANT development and reception. Bruno Latour is discussed as one of the main assemblage points of the approach. A one of the founders of the approach, he took part in many of its transformations, as well as in a collective closure and relaunch of the project. However, “Latour” is sometimes a name designating a particular intellectual, sometimes denotes the Paris school of ANT, and is sometimes a reference to a network of research projects, or even the whole actor-network approach. His name conceals differences between these four senses and provides permanent shifts from one to another. Latour’s changeability draws the attention of critics and readers, generating new interpretations of his work. One classic example is the polemic between Bruno Latour and David Bloor, a leader of the Edinburgh school of sociology of scientific knowledge. Their clash is an important event that largely defined which theoretical style would dominate in the field of science and technology studies.
The expansion of ANT across various disciplinary boundaries is discussed in the article through Graham Harman’s proposal to rethink Latour theory in philosophy, connecting the actor-network approach with flat ontologies. This topic is discussed in the third issue (Vol. 27 # 3 2017). This article offers a short description of flat ontologies and highlights the specificity of ANT reception. It finishes with a discussion of the empirical application of the theory, accompanied by commentary on the transformations of vocabulary and of the approach itself.
Keywords: actor-network theory; laboratory; irreductionism; heterogeneity; flat ontology