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Biomedicine in museums

The productivity of intellectual enemies

By October 21, 2011No Comments

I started the day in a really bad mood, but woke up and became excited when I saw the announcement of a lecture series at Goldsmiths in London titled “My best fiend” — a series of talks aimed at investigating the productivity of intellectual enmities. Schoolars have been invited to reflect on their academic enemies, i.e., not only persons, but also movements, disciplines and concepts.

As the organisers point out:

Enemies are productive. They spark interest, they draw energy, people care about them and they care about us. Why else would people spend time denouncing this badly formulated concept of an esteemed colleague, decrying the neighbouring discipline that keeps misunderstanding the world, or keep on writing bad tempered footnotes about this mistaken theory – and thereby become complicit in this very unproductivity? Why do scholars choose this enemy and not another?

Enemies also often involuntarily direct ones thinking, researching and theorising. If an enemy posits a, people feel compelled to posit b. If she writes approvingly of c, we need to denounce it. An enemy can have more power over people’s thinking than they would probably like to have it. It is as if people are guided in their thinking not only from their research object, but by an unknown field of do’s and don’t’s, accumulated since the time of their studies, of where to go and look and where not to look.

The series starts on Tuesday 1 November with a talk by Liz Moor on “Reflections on the Genesis of Intellectual Fiends”; she is followed by Harry Collins on “Good and Bad Arguments: With Friends, Idiots and People Without Integrity”, David Oswell “Dances with Wolves: Latour, Machiavelli and Us”, and Steve Fuller: “Bruno Latour: and some Notes on some also rans”. Wish I were in London!! More here

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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