Technicity vs Scientificity: Complementarities and Rivalries
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More About This Title Technicity vs Scientificity: Complementarities and Rivalries


The relationship between technicity and scientificity is often overlooked or avoided despite being a determining factor for establishing interdisciplinarity. By focusing on this relationship and highlighting a number of its ramifications, this book sheds light on the hidden or skewed stakes that condition a wide array of scientific projects. 

The authors present different approaches based on their own professional experience, focusing on the technique–science relationship in domains as diverse as brain mapping, the decipherment of Mycenaean writing and the design process. Each chapter presents varying and often opposing epistemological conclusions to provide the reader with a wide breadth of examples in different fields.

Although the scope of this book is far from exhaustive, it serves as a starting point for the necessary and long-overdue clarification of the relationship between these neighboring, yet disjointed, sectors.


Giulia Anichini, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie (CIRST), Canada

Flavia Carraro, Research Institute for the History of Technology and Science, Germany

Philippe Geslin, Neuchâtel University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland

Georges Guille-Escuret, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), France


Introduction    ix

Chapter 1 The Artisan, the Sage and the Irony: An Outline of Knowledge Sociogenesis     1

1.1 Knowledge sociogenesis? Necessary introduction  2

1.1.1 Evolution, history and conjecture: Radcliffe–Brown’s block   3

1.1.2 Techniques outside science, science outside techniques    5

1.2 Extra-human or peri-human technicities    8

1.2.1 Involuntary society and impersonal knowledge: termite mound and workers    8

1.2.2 Techniques and culture in chimpanzees    10

1.3 Junctions, divergences and disparities     11

1.3.1 Putting words to action?   12

1.3.2 Diversity and disparity, conjunction and separation    17

1.4 Forming a triangle: technique, science and ideology  23

1.4.1 Astronomers and architects, priests and administrators    25

1.4.2 Logic and theory without technique: first birth  30

1.4.3 Science thanks to techniques: second birth   34

1.5 The abandoned mystery: “technicity”  38

1.5.1 Immediate markers of technicity  40

1.5.2 Technicity, scientificity and ideology: the distinction of functions with overlapping roles   44

1.6 Technocracy and scientificity   47

1.6.1 Technocracy: two perspectives in the 1960s   48

1.6.2 Technosciences: the example of molecular biology 51

1.7 The wilting of science, for lack of dissidence   54

Chapter 2 Technicization of the Neurosciences: Uses of Image-Processing Software in Brain Research    57

2.1 Setting the scene Neuroanatomy: from scalpel to screen    59

2.2 The categories challenged by practices    62

2.3 Sulcal morphometry: between automation and scientific expertise   64

2.3.1 Recovery and creation of “raw” data    64

2.3.2 Production of the “mask”   66

2.3.3 Choosing “normal” brain images  68

2.3.4 Labeling the sulci     72

2.4 Comparing brain networks: theory in database exploration    77

2.4.1 Defining the variables and comparing the groups of images    81

2.4.2 Data bricolage  87

2.5 Conclusions   90

Chapter 3 Cryptography, a Human Science? Models, Matrices, Tools and Frames of Reference    97

3.1 Decipherment between science and technique, discovery and invention     98

3.1.1 Cryptographies between war and peace    99

3.1.2 An exemplary case: the decipherment of Linear B 103

3.2 The decipherer, the result and the procedure: the impossible solution and the technical compromise  106

3.3 The Grid, tool, instrument and machine, and the regime of proofs and tests     112

3.4 An applied and interdisciplinary internal and collective analysis   120

3.5 The patterns and mechanics of the documents   129

3.6 Scribes’ hands and autopsy of the tablets    138

3.7 Technomycenology     144

3.7.1 Cuts of pertinence and relays, frames of reference and hierarchies   145

3.7.2 Prince Charming and the scribe of Minos   149

Chapter 4 The Beauty of Equation: The Anthropologist and the Engineer in Design Processes     155
Philippe GESLIN

4.1 The “beauty of equation”    160

4.2 Eleven outlines for the harmony of the equation   163

4.2.1 First outline: the circulation of technical objects orients future uses   163

4.2.2 Second outline: circulation can correct the “mistakes” or lack of a design process     164

4.2.3 Third outline: circulation can encourage certain material, but also discursive expansions   165

4.2.4 Fourth outline: circulation determines regimes of familiarity and temporality that summarize technological standardization They can, in certain cases, contribute to the birth of technoscapes    166

4.2.5 Fifth outline: the experience of techniques is the knowledge that their deciders, or the public, have, and not necessarily those who directly use it  168

4.2.6 Sixth outline: in the framework of circulating a technical object, it is always through the element that constitutes it and that is the most deterritorialized in relation to the context of receipt that specific forms of appropriation are noted  169

4.2.7 Seventh outline: the choice of the name given to a technical object before projects may constrain the design processes and its appropriation mechanisms    170

4.2.8 Eighth outline: the relationships between things are just as much the object of experiments as the things themselves   171

4.2.9 Ninth outline: the imitation principle underlies the circulation of things and their “scale-up”     172

4.2.10 Tenth outline: the proposed solutions are both the process that will lead to concrete transformations and its most visible results    173

4.2.11 Eleventh outline: the implementation of the sociotechnical points of reference proposed by the anthropologist and their materialization favor “acting together” and “testing the sensitive”    175

4.3 The blue note…  176

Conclusion     179

Bibliography    185

Index 203