In a blue world, the color blue does not exist ! Would it be possible to extend this saying analogically to science : in a completely scientific world, science does not exist. Or, in slightly different terms, in a world where the reference to science is ubiquitous, covering all fields of human activity and thought, such a reference becomes meaningless.

One might consider such a state of affairs as a great victory of science over all the cultures of the world, each with its peculiar form of obscurantism. One could also see this ubiquity of science as something which cannot but improve the overall relationships of human beings to science and the rationality which is supposed to go with it. Having lost its sepcificity with regards to other activities and knowledges, science could becompe manageable as anything else. Bruno Latour has been advocating for the abandonment of any kind of special treatment for science. It must be considered as any other human activity without any kind of privilege due to its power over nature and things.

Quite recently, Bernard Schiele adopted a similar line of argument during a symposium organised by the CNRS in Paris on the theme " Sciences in society ". If, as he said, science should not be thought about in terms of its opposition to society, if " science participates to the very definition of society ", its specificity fades away.

Science has changed the world. Is it time now that it should transform itself ? This idea, advocated by Ulrich Beck in his Society of the Risk is important and we cannot but agree with it.

There is something obvious in such a programme. But why should science transform itself ? How could it do it ? And what benefits could we expect from such a change ?

The first thing which comes to our minds in front of this idea is a kind of denial of the legitimacy of this move : Beck demands that science should change itself without apparently being aware of the fact that science is precisely changing itself all the time ever since Galileo launched his programme of natural philosophy based upon mathematics and experimentation.

As Victor Hugo had said in a vivid way : " La science a trouvé le mouvement perpétuel, c'est elle-même. " So, if science is precisely a device particularly capable of changing itself, why does Beck appeal to a new science ?

Beck's idea is not to be assessed with regards to the permanent revolution that science is engaged in since Galileo. It shoud rather be understood with reference to the way science could include some kind of reflexivity in its practice and discourse. But if we want science to be reflexive, does that mean that up to now, it was deprived of any reflexivity ?

As a matter of fact, one could consider the emergence of popularisation of science within the galilean paradigm of the new natural philosophy as a way for science to become reflexive thanks to a reference to the oral dimension of language, and, behind this oral dimension of language, to the general public. How does this reference to the public work for maintaining some kind of reflexivity in science ? That is the question !

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Should science transform itself and how ?
The reflexive move in science

Baudouin Jurdant   University Paris-Diderot (Paris 7)

Joëlle Marec   Ecole Normale Supérieure - LSH

In a blue world, the color blue does not exist ! Would it be possible to extend this saying analogically to science : in a completely scientific world, science does not exist. Or, in slightly different terms, in a world where the reference to science is ubiquitous, covering all fields of human activity and thought, such a reference becomes meaningless.

One might consider such a state of affairs as a great victory of science over all the cultures of the world, each with its peculiar form of obscurantism. One could also see this ubiquity of science as something which cannot but improve the overall relationships of human beings to science and the rationality which is supposed to go with it. Having lost its sepcificity with regards to other activities and knowledges, science could becompe manageable as anything else. Bruno Latour has been advocating for the abandonment of any kind of special treatment for science. It must be considered as any other human activity without any kind of privilege due to its power over nature and things.

Quite recently, Bernard Schiele adopted a similar line of argument during a symposium organised by the CNRS in Paris on the theme " Sciences in society ". If, as he said, science should not be thought about in terms of its opposition to society, if " science participates to the very definition of society ", its specificity fades away.

Science has changed the world. Is it time now that it should transform itself ? This idea, advocated by Ulrich Beck in his Society of the Risk is important and we cannot but agree with it.

There is something obvious in such a programme. But why should science transform itself ? How could it do it ? And what benefits could we expect from such a change ?

The first thing which comes to our minds in front of this idea is a kind of denial of the legitimacy of this move : Beck demands that science should change itself without apparently being aware of the fact that science is precisely changing itself all the time ever since Galileo launched his programme of natural philosophy based upon mathematics and experimentation.

As Victor Hugo had said in a vivid way : " La science a trouvé le mouvement perpétuel, c'est elle-même. " So, if science is precisely a device particularly capable of changing itself, why does Beck appeal to a new science ?

Beck's idea is not to be assessed with regards to the permanent revolution that science is engaged in since Galileo. It shoud rather be understood with reference to the way science could include some kind of reflexivity in its practice and discourse. But if we want science to be reflexive, does that mean that up to now, it was deprived of any reflexivity ?

As a matter of fact, one could consider the emergence of popularisation of science within the galilean paradigm of the new natural philosophy as a way for science to become reflexive thanks to a reference to the oral dimension of language, and, behind this oral dimension of language, to the general public. How does this reference to the public work for maintaining some kind of reflexivity in science ? That is the question !

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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