May 19, 2011

The Cosmospolitical Proposal by Isabelle Stengers


What is the cosmopolitics, meant by Stengers? Does she purposely try to differ it from the idea of the cosmopolitan, where the whole idea of the universe or world somehow according to her may lack the effect in reality. She separates the two words and relates them together by making argument through her view on science. In this article especially she discusses heavily on the idea of ‘modern science’ in particular, to which she has also suggested for it to have certain themes.  She drew on some examples from diverse range of sciences, like the formation of physical-mathematical intelligibility, from Galilean mechanics and the origin of dynamics to quantum theory, the question of biological reductionism, and the power relations at work in the social and behavioral of sciences in order to relate them back to the material and living world (contemporary society). The word “cosmos’ of Stengers’ cosmopoltics;

“…refers to the unknown constituted by [the] multiple, divergent worlds and to the articulations of which they could eventually be capable” (Pg. 995)

Along with this science consideration and tolerance, in her concept of cosmopolitics she therefore addresses a proposal that is modeled upon scientific method that reflects on all kind of assumptions and facts that are questionably arguable.  The purpose of this is to ultimately be able to re-assimilate the notion of natural and the social, the notion of the modern and the ancient and more importantly, the importance of scientific and the irrational. For the scientific notion, modern science is criticized and perhaps analyzed (by Stengers) to have the need of conceptual themes. Her argument for this is reflected on her concept of “ecology of practices” where as creative aspect of these themes is constantly being considered, such practices may contribute to our understandings on scientific knowledge, specifically on its characteristic of evolvement. Here Stengers perhaps suggests that it is crucial to understand and investigate the limitations and obligations of the practices and the effect they have on the sciences. Theoretically speaking, these practices (in tandem with existence) may relate to or influence each other, and that the practices of science itself are included. We cannot simply argue whether or not that scientific discovery on our living world (or beyond) may influence the idea of the world itself. ‘Political’ (science) + ‘Cosmos’ = Cosmopolitics? I believe Stengers may have claimed that somehow science is represented as ‘true’, and the other dissertations may just be deprecated as irrational and superstitious.

Nurulain Mohd Noor

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