Hermeneutics: 'let Nature and Material Things speak' with Don Ihde
Location 117a
Date and Start Time 01 September, 2016 at 14:00
Sessions 1


  • Josette Jacobs (Wageningen University ) email
  • Bart Gremmen (Wageningen University) email

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Short Abstract

Nature and material things can be understood differently by different groups. Just like texts that can be read differently. This motto of the closed session of ISHS, fits into the material hermeneutics interests of Don Ihde. So we are very happy to find Ihde as keynote listener on our program.

Long Abstract

The motto of the 4s/EASST conference, 'Science & technology by other means', can also be explored by an hermeneutical approach. Nature and material things can be understood differently by different groups. Just like texts that can be read differently. 'Let Nature and material things speak', the motto of the closed session of the International Society for Hermeneutics and Science (ISHS), fits into the material hermeneutics interests of Don Ihde. So we are very happy to find Ihde on our program. The presentations of this session are centered around his last book: Acoustic Technics (Postphenomenology and the Philosophy of Technology 2015. Acoustic Technics is about hi-tech acoustic phenomena. One really interesting development is acoustic means of medical diagnosis. Don Ihde talks about 'listening to cancer' and 'hearing' make a difference between malignant and cancerous cells. This is already possible for cervical and prostate cancers. So acoustic technics can be considered as an example of the motto of both the 4s/EASST and ISHS.

This ISHS closed session will be an opportunity to share reflections, ideas and findings on an hermeneutical approach of your research. Think of, for instance, what role do nature and material things play in your research? Or how to deal with the different interpretations. And finally how to take into account a new epistemological point of view.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.


The Sound of Technoscience

Author: Bart Gremmen (Wageningen University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper is a review of Don Ihde’s book Acoustic Technics. The book is about the embodied, sensory experience of sound and uses his postphenomenological perspective on technoscience to show how the body experiences sound beyond hearing.

Long Abstract

This paper in the closed session "Hermeneutics: 'let Nature and material things speak'" is a review of Don Ihde's book Acoustic Technics. The book is about the embodied, sensory experience of sound and uses his postphenomenological perspective on technoscience to show how the body experiences sound beyond hearing. Traditionally philosophy of science has had a visualist orientation. In his long career Don Ihde has always acknowledged the important role of the other senses. Already in 1976 he published Listening and Voice: a Phenomenology of Sound, a reflection upon how we experience our world from an acoustic perspective. In Acoustic Technics Don Ihde has returned to many of the same issues, now highlighting high-tech acoustic imaging technologies, like echo-location, infra and ultra-sounds, medical diagnosis, surveillance, and subsurface and interplanetary domains.

The book consists of two parts. The first part 'A sono-sightscape' locates acoustic technologies. This part is about the core idea of sound beyond sound, imaging as a second scientific revolution, and animals and robots. The other part, 'Dimensional or "case" studies' is about acoustic capacities. This part is about six different cases, from listening to cancer to embodiment and multistability. In my review I focus on Ihde's claim of a second scientific revolution through imaging technologies, the role of animals in the argument, and the role of 'what we are doing' in the world of sounds.

Hermeneutics of Science and Numbers: Nature Speaks Mathematics

Author: Chandrima Christiansen (TU Dresden)  email

Short Abstract

Science uses mathematics as a tool to conceptualise Nature and Phenomena.Technology interprets science to extend the observational scope to capture visuals and promulgate perceptual conjectures.This inductive circle is a dynamic constant defining the embedding of Science and Technology in Society.

Long Abstract

My conference paper, in tune with the theme 'Hermeneutics: 'Let Nature and Material Things Speak' attempts to 'hear' Nature speak Mathematics. Occurrences in nature, have since time immemorial been observed and conceptualised. The observations have not only been visible observable visuals and phenomena, but also perceptual conjectures. Science, with mathematics as its tool conceptualises 'Nature' along with its ongoing processes and constituents, to arrive at a theory that captures nature speaking a universal language in order to dispel interpretational relativity and universalise scientific knowledge. Technology, then takes over to engineer processes that translate knowledge to further refine and extend the scope of listening to 'Nature'. The cycle of observation, conceptualisation and instrumentation that begins with Nature interacting with Mankind, with Man being an element of Nature itself, ends with Nature again starting the cycle, with perceptual reality not witnessing a completion at any observable point of time. The infinite continuity of this cycle is a constant, characterised by a dynamic infinity, that defines the embedding of Science and Technology in Society, with Nature as a cosmic 'whole'.

The methodology will be to demonstrate the patterns inherent in the elements of nature, that reflect mathematical numericals, which in turn have been instrumental in the interpretation of the growth civilisation and cultures. The paper is a pantheistic attempt to visualise the intrinsic weave of mathematics in the intertwined weave of structures and processes of science and technology in society, that lends a voice to nature as an encompassing 'whole'.

Let nature speak: the case of the Atwood machine

Author: Ricardo Coelho (University of Lisbon)  email

Short Abstract

There are several solving strategies of the Atwood machine problem. These use different theoretical elements to reach the solution of the problem. An approach directly based on the characteristics of the machine enables us to achieve the same goal in a simpler and clearer way.

Long Abstract

The Atwood machine, invented by George Atwood in 1784, is nowadays a basic physics laboratory device (two bodies connected by a string passing over a pulley) and a typical problem in introductory physics textbooks. In the last decades, some authors (Crawford 1987, Gonzalez 1997, Newburgh et al. 2004, Coelho 2013) have proposed solving strategies for the compound Atwood machine problem, which use more intuitive ideas than the standard strategies. The present paper will give an overview of both alternative and standard solving strategies. It turns out from the analysis of all these strategies that these use different theoretical elements (Newton’s second law, equivalence principle, Lagrange equations, among others) to obtain the solution of the problem. There are, however, two characteristics of the phenomenon, which can be easily demonstrated (the inextensibility of the string and the weights of the hanging bodies), on which a solving strategy can be based. Thus, instead of applying the Newtonian, Lagrangean or other theories to the machine, we can let the machine speak. This latter approach provides us with an understanding of the phenomenon, which in turn constitutes the guiding idea in the problem solving. Moreover, the typical conceptual problem of classical mechanics – force is the cause of acceleration – is overcome by means of the approach that is closer to nature. The present case study leads us to the idea that this motto ‘Let Nature and Material Things Speak’ could play an important role in physics education.

'Nature itself cannot speak and say what it wants'

Author: Josette Jacobs (Wageningen University )  email

Short Abstract

Working together on complex issues is prominent in society. The question is: how will you do this? Mutual understanding is crucial to collaboration. In this presentation it will become clear what the link is with Gadamer’s idea about understanding texts and understanding nature and material things.

Long Abstract

In this talk the focus is on complex problems in society. Tackling these kind of problems is all about working together: the local communities, civil society organisations, researchers and students need to collaborate to come to a solution. I believe that mutual understanding is crucial to collaboration, and the master of understanding is the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer. Gadamer was a great inspiration to me and led me to a new way of viewing collaboration. Gadamer was taking about understanding texts. How can we use that in relation to complex societal issues as the climate problem? Nature can't speak, neither texts can speak. I will make clear that the next step to experiencing nature is to interpret nature by giving meaning to it. This is exactly what happens in the process of understanding each other. When looking for solutions to the climate problem, we should focus not on nature but on the people who interpret it. Nature itself cannot speak and say what it wants. The solutions to complex problems lie in people themselves. My question for Don Ihde would be: how to deal with the different interpretations of material things?

Earthing technology: global warming and the biomimetics of technology in the anthropocene

Author: Vincent Blok (Wageningen University)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper, we reflect on the Anthropocene as changed conditions under which new technologies emerge in order to explore a more eco-centric approach of technology development, which is called biomimicry.

Long Abstract

STS is sometimes criticized for narrowing its scope to concrete artefacts and their uses, thereby neglecting the ecosystem of planet earth in which these artefacts occur and operate. Should STS assume a more ecological or even eco-centric focus, instead of focusing on technical artefacts or (socio)technical systems only?

In this paper, we reflect on these changed conditions under which new technologies emerge - energy crisis, global warming etc. - in order to answer this question. In section one, we conceptualize these changed conditions of the current age in terms of the Anthropocene (Crutzen, 2000). On the one hand, it shows our dependency on the carrying capacity planet earth for our human existence. With this, on the other hand, it calls for the transition to sustainability of future technologies (Morton, 2013).

In section two, we explore a more eco-centric approach of technology development, which is called biomimicry (Benyus 2002: 1). Biomimicry provides potentially a new and ecosystem-friendly approach to technology development, which is no longer characterized by the domination and exploitation of nature, but by learning and exploration (cf. Blok & Gremmen, 2016).

In section three, we reflect on a concept of biomimetic technologies in the Anthropocene, which is conceptualized as 'earthing' technology. On the one hand, the experience of global warming brings us 'down to earth'; the earth as that on which human existence depends. On the other hand, it is this concept of earth which is and should be mimicked in biomimetic technologies.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.