Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-01-15 - 12:24 p.m.

Laurence rang up driving back from Bath. We talked about the rationalist fight-back against fundamentalism on C4 on Monday nights - how it seems to neglect the putative cruelty of Darwinism and the unintelligibility of physics. I said how weird it was that Lenin and then Stalin seemed to care about the philosophy of physics in the first decade of the 20th century - could there be some link with their subsequent cruetly? . I mentioned had been dipping into the critical theory of religion - apparently there has been a collective endeavour in this area in Dubrovnik for a quarter of a century - looking at three generic world outcomes. Good summer wheeze.

Thus inspired I started on Juliette’s Chapter in the Dialectics of Enlightenment. They suggest that Kant anticipates the way Hollywood shapes sensory material so that it will be appreciated by a mass audience. This (now totally familiar) media process mirrors (according to our authors) the way in Kant that the understanding imposes shape on what we perceive so that it is amenable to judgement - in particular judgement working under the guidance of scientific ideas. Adorno and Horkheimer ask undrr what conditions the mechanism might become available to scrutiny?

“Science itself has no awareness of itself - it is merely a tool. Enlightenment equates truth with the scientific system. The notion of self-understanding of science conflicts with the notion of science itself.”

Of course since then, Science Studies has emerged and at the end of the 1990s there were the Science Wars which were about the conflict that A&H refer to in this quotation. I said to Laurence that I still have his Christmas present from 2004 (undelivered) which is a post-Science Wars discussion of the social pragmatics of science for the 21st century. We must urgently arrange delivery of this.

I mentioned to Laurence the DVD based on the home movies of the drummer on Dylan’s Judas tour (who had previously played with Trini Lopez) - in particular the clip where you hear Robbie Robertson opening a chorus of All Along the Watchtower with the minor ninth. Not a Hendrix innovation after all but rather JH following someone else’s precedent.

I got back into the Science Studies lark because of the contract with the Learning Grid (what is it about science and technology these days which means that school-children don’t want to study it) and indeed the LG has kept me in Leantown this weekend. The Autopsort Exhibition at the NEC includes the finals of F1 in Schools - one of the LG components that I had never actually seen in the flesh. Obviously I had to take the opportunity to get the practical feel of the competition. (Earlier in the week I had been working on a questionnaire with Steve that Esmond was going using on the attendees at Autosport so it made sense to have a look at the sample population.)

I had trouble finding the F1 in Schools site in the vast halls of the NEC but I eventually located it - plus a lot of people I knew - including Francis who kindly brought me lunch. (Steve is still in Shanghai).

Someone else has already done some research on the F1 in Schools competition - and it comes out brilliantly - a glance round the participant stands backed up the research findings. In fact this programme is a triumph for ANT theory.

I also had a chance to catch up with Primary Engineer which has enjoyed a brilliant ANT-related leap forward since I last spoke to them. Its not often that you see a bit of technology with a really large wow-factor that breaks into social life through the primary school classroom.

Then I bumped into Viv (another generous sponsor of IC investigations) on the West Midlands Niche Vehicle stand which was a nice surprise . He introduced me to one of the entrepreneurs whose factory is in Coventry. We had a good chat about how resilient the manufacturing culture is in that city. So - the investment of the weekend in Autosport was much better than anticipated.


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