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October 2021

Neither fixed fact nor contingent artifact: Nature as a product of experimental interactivity

Journal/Book: Soziale Welt. 1999; 50: Annastrabe 7, D-37075 Gottingen, Germany. Verlag Otto Schwartz & Co. 281+.

Abstract: Different conceptions of nature are actually debated. On the one side, science conceives nature as a set of facts and fixed relations. This modern conception of nature implicates an asymmetry between the objective facts of science and the subjective fictions of other views. On the other side, science studies and new social movements conceive nature as a cultural artifact. They have shown that scientific facts and objects are socially constructed like Ether things of everyday life. Both conceptions, the scientific realism and the cultural constructivism, are caught in a vicious circle. It is argued that the approach of relational pragmatism may help to overcome the debated circularities of nature and culture, of subject and object, and of scientific objects and things of everyday life. The concept of ''experimental interactivity'' is introduced in order to characterise the mode how the relations between subjects and objects, between human and nonhuman nature are produced. The advantages of this pragmatist view on nature are illustrated by an interpretation of an ethnographic study which deals with the different experiences and knowledge cultures of Western engineers and Bangladeshian people. Both are confronted with nature-out-of-control exemplified by the floods of the Brahmaputra river.

Note: Article Rammert W, Free Univ Berlin, Inst Soziol, Babelsbergerstr 14-16, D-10715 Berlin, GERMANY

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