Practicing Dialectics of Technoscience during the Anthropocene

Hub Zwart*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This paper develops a dialectical methodology for assessing technoscience during the Anthropocene. How to practice Hegelian dialectics of technoscience today? First of all, dialectics is developed here in close interaction with contemporary technoscientific research endeavours, which are addressed from a position of proximity and from an ‘oblique’ perspective. Contrary to empirical (sociological or ethnographical) research, the focus is on how basic concepts of life, nature and technology are acted out in practice. Notably, this paper zooms in on a synthetic cell project called BaSyC as a concrete instantiation of converging views of life, nature and technology currently at work in technoscience. While dialectics is used to explore the significance of this project (of this ‘experience’ in the dialectical sense), the synthetic cell as a case study also allows us to demonstrate the remarkable relevance of dialectics for understanding contemporary research, notably because it incites us to see the synthetic cell project as a concrete exemplification of life under Anthropocenic conditions. Should we assess the synthetic cell as the ultimate realisation of the technoscientific will to control and optimise life, or rather as an effort to bridge the disruptive collision between technoscience and nature, or both?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-224
Number of pages20
JournalFoundations of Science
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2021

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