“By history I mean a corrosive sense of the contradictions and multiple material-semiotic processes at the heart of scientific knowledge. History is not a completed past simply waiting to be applied to deepen a time probe or to give perspective. It is a discipline reworked by postmodern insights about always split, fragmented, and multiple subjects, identities, and collectivities. All units and actors cohere partially and provisionally, held together by complex material-semiotic-social practices. In the space opened up by such contradictions and multiplicities lies the possibility for reflexive responsibility for the shape of narrative fields.”
Donna Haraway, Primate Visions, p. 172
In Western common sense, nature appears as the ultimate truth, and science is there to reveal this truth and transfer it into applicable knowledge for political decision making, technological progress, and therapy. Yet, what ‘nature’ is, where it starts and ends, what it ‘tells us’, and especially what we can ‘learn’ from it, is not a natural matter but very much a process of human perception, exclusion, interpretation, and rationalization.
Thus the ideas about nature are embedded in how humans shape their environment, how they are themselves embedded in a sphere of ‘true’ knowledge, what they believe to be morally right, how they pose questions, and the horizon in which they search for answers. Limits in human understanding of the truth can be easily illustrated when looking back in history e.g. the idea that the earth is flat. Still, there is a wide spread believe that the ‘wrong’ knowledge which people had back then is corrected now, and although we might not know everything by now, we know it better. Thus, in modern common sense, our knowledge is not only seen as the truth of our time, but as timeless in its validity.
This insight into the construction of knowledge leads us to the perspective that there is no such thing as the ahistorical, ultimate truth. In consequence, it questions the basis of our living together, of how we ‘do’ things, of what we consider to be right or wrong. Does that mean we can’t do research anymore? It does not of course! It rather asks for a different way to approach things. It asks for doing research – likewise in social or natural sciences – that questions our judgements, that reflects their premises, and that rather asks: What is it we think we have found out? What is our interpretation of it? How did we get there? And what is the consequence of seeing things this way or another?
This blog poses those questions and more alike. And we invite everyone to join us questioning the most ‘natural facts’ that you and we are convinced of.