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Workshop [REP·REF] report - Some reflections after the workshop

26 November 2013
filed under: materials

Of all the crossings in the inquiry, [REP·REF] is easily the most important since it opens up the possibility to a pluralism of modes. However, it is also the most complicated. While the first four chapters of the draft report are dedicated this crossing, it has not been really been treated since extracting the beings of  [REP] seemed to be an impossible task. This is precisely why this new experiment, thanks to Pablo Jensen, is of such interest. It proposes extracting these beings by setting up a confrontation between physicists, biologists and philosophers.

Over the course of the day, we came to realise the enormous difficulty of the task that we had set ourselves! If we are to move ahead before July we will require more than one extra workshop. NB: it is clear that it is easier to make the contrast with biology stand out than it is with physics (lines rather than the lines of force).

That said, the contribution by Antoine Georges introduced an essential point for the diplomatic operation to come: we see the potential appearance of a rupture between [REP] and [REF] each time that we notice that a calculation is ‘theoretically possible’ [‘en principe’ in French] while all the time recognizing in practice that it is in fact impossible. However, this distance, as Georges reminds us, is essential to identity of physics.

However, as luck would have it, he recognizes that this identity is one that belongs to specific ethnicity. By accepting to simulate this anthropological game we are able to prepare a situation for a possible negotiation on the notion of the ‘laws of nature’, a central element to the debate and one that Pablo Jensen illustrated by complicating canonical examples of falling bodies.

Among biologists, the confusion between [REP] and [REF] remains evidently very important but with which the metalanguage offered by Whitehead’s  ‘philosophy of organism’ (magnificently explained by Didier Debaise) ‘works’ perfectly well. As Sonigo noted, this occurs each time we replace a ‘function’ (a hybrid concept indispensable to [REF] with another ‘selfish’ activity that does not imply a break (as in the the joke about the bacteria when asked ‘What good are you?’, replied ‘Shut up, I’m eating’).

The following idea then is to try and imagine what we could say about these beings of [REP] when we cannot grasp them with constants but rather as ‘running the risk their reproducing without the hope of a reprise’. An extremely delicate nuance that while it not helped us see what it could bring to physicists it has given us more insights as to what it permits biologists to think.

NB: you can find here the detailed report of the workshop (in French)

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