The Mona Lisa

The two cultures, or the defeat of the humanities...

Digital provides " a historic opportunity A report unveiled on Monday (March 7) calls for the National Education system to "take up the fight against academic difficulties in primary schools, on the condition that it experiments, equips and trains teachers". "The strongest results can be achieved in primary school," she says. must be the top priority of digital education« The report, drawn up by the liberal think tank Institut Montaigne, chaired by the head of the insurer Axa Henri de Castries, in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group, says the report.
In France, primary schools are far less equipped with digital tools than secondary schools, and the digital plan announced by François Hollande for the start of the 2016 school year targets middle schools in particular.
The report distinguishes two stages for the use of digital education. Firstly, cycles 1 and 2 (nursery school, then CP to CE2), where it can make it possible to free up time to concentrate on the acquisition of the fundamentals by pupils in difficulty, within the classroom but also during extracurricular activities and even holidays. Thus, with videos, exercises or questionnaires, we could use some of the time that children spend in front of the screens at home anyway, more than the annual class time, calculates the report.
Then, in fourth and fifth grade, " digital can be seen as a new fundamental knowledge, on a par with speaking, reading, writing and arithmetic."
It is in this news that UP' Magazine has chosen to publish, as a counterpoint, excerpts from this article by the PMO collective. (Parts and labor)* :
Do you know why the Mona Lisa is smiling? Because she's happy. To be exact, she feels joy at 83 %, disgust at 9 %, plus 6 % of fear and 2 % of anger. Less than one percent of her is neutral, and she expresses no surprises. The teacher's software Harro StokmanThe University of Amsterdam's Mona Lisa has not been able to confirm the sexual dimension or the part of contempt detected in the Mona Lisa's eyes by some humans. But that was in 2005 and the machine must have progressed, since Stokman has meanwhile set up the startup Euvision to sell its facial recognition tools on smartphones.
Belcome to the age of the digital humanities. Those who realize " the integration of digital culture into the definition of general culture in the 21st century ». Who will soon see the creation of " Educational territories of digital innovation "according to the program of the Ministry of National Education, because "en failing to take hold of the digital world, by not integrating it sufficiently, the School is in a way depriving our students of valuable resources: the resources of knowledge. Those of meaning. "
Remember this: digital is what will soon give small humans access to meaning.
The digital humanities? A movement that took off during the 2000s within the human and social sciences, arts and letters, to make them, too, connected, digitized, big dated. As a report [Humanités numériques, état des lieux et positionnement de la recherche française dans le contexte international, report by the Institut français, 2014] states, the human and social sciences are strongly influenced by computational models (...) In all disciplines, whether in biology or literature, nuclear physics or anthropology, the object studied is converted, manipulated and analyzed under a common category: information, the object of computation. Within the computational paradigm, unexpected connections occur.
Since living things are now computable, why shouldn't culture be? Sociologists, linguists, geographers, librarians, contemporary artists and archaeologists, like everyone else, have to go through the "coding" box. They had already quantified every reality - social, human, sensitive. Why wouldn't they translate it into series of 1s and 0s? Reductio ad numero universal, whose effect - if not the objective - is to annihilate any subjective apprehension of the real, that is to say all humanity in the understanding and narrative of the world. Here too, it is a question of replacing man by machine. This is why the Ministry of Education is in such a hurry to teach computer code instead of Latin and Greek.

C.P. Snow against "traditional culture".

How did it come to this? If the technosciences imposed their supremacy in practice after the Second World War, it was also necessary to acclimatize the minds so that their victory would be total. The defeat of the humanities was the result of a struggle of ideas, of a long work of undermining in which many scientists collaborated. Among them, an English physicist and "novelist", Charles Percy Snow, became famous for a lecture he gave at Cambridge on May 7, 1959, entitled "The Humanities and the Humanities".  The two cultures and the scientific revolution " [C.P. Snow, The two cultures(JJ Pauvert, 1968)].
It develops the arguments that justify the primacy of science and technology over the life of industrial societies, arguments whose relevance is intact in the era of nanotechnology and converging technologies.
Only the first half of the title of the conference, "The Two Cultures", has survived for posterity. And only this idea was retained, wrongly,: C.P. Snow would have preached reconciliation between two worlds that ignore each other: science and literature, separated by a "...". gulf of misunderstanding ». The proof is that literary people are not done reciting the second law of thermodynamics and few scientists have read Dickens.
Now, the meeting of the disciplines could " spring up creatively "for human progress. So, the conclusion is that less specialized education is needed, and that cross-fertilization between the two worlds should be encouraged. This would be the lesson, all in all quite humanistic, of Professor Snow. With this in mind, the C.P. Snow University Award from theIthaca College now rewards students whose work contributes to bringing the "two cultures" closer together.
If Snow regrets the gap between what he calls "traditional culture" - literary culture - and scientific culture, it is to oust the humanities and make science and technology the heart of modern "culture". Follow the demonstration: industrial society is the only one capable of ensuring human prosperity and well-being. Its progress depends on the "scientific revolution" - in other words, on innovation, and requires well-trained human resources. Consequently, let us stop wasting time with materials that are useless, even hostile, to this strategy - the humanities - and let us devote the Nation's efforts to the scientific fields.
We can see to what extent his conference was a founding conference: his recommendations were followed, if one dares say so, to the letter, to allow the dominance of technosciences in all fields of thought. If you don't know what to read in 2016, ask the algorithms atAmazon...who became the first book prescribers. Answer guaranteed 100 % in accordance with your objective profile.
As a bridge between the "two cultures", Snow never stops lecturing the literary world about their disdain for science. Far from wanting to introduce chemists to poetry, the speaker reminds us of his bitterness against "literary intellectuals" who one day, on the sly, start calling themselves "intellectuals" as if they were the only ones entitled to this appellation. »
In the face of the wonders of technoscience, enrage Snow, the proponents of the humanities." are stubbornly claiming that traditional culture constitutes all "culture". (...) As if the scientific edifice of the physical world were not, in its intellectual depth, complexity and articulation, the most beautiful and astonishing collective work that the human mind has ever conceived. "
Nice profession of faith scientist. Everyone can, after decades of progress in this "most beautiful and astonishing collective work", see its effects on the richness of social ties, the emancipation of individuals, the quality of exchanges between peoples and cultures, not to mention the excellent health of the planet. The world is so much more intelligible since it has been digitized. Clearly, we don't need the humanities, and Snow was right when he said, "We don't need the humanities. science must be assimilated to the point of becoming part of our entire mental experience ".
The victory of technoscience has made us free from the question "why? to devote ourselves to the "how? ». All we have to do is listen to conversations in the canteen about how to optimize our smartphone, download the right app, fix a bug, and so on. In the machine world, it becomes vital to know how to work - remember Najat Vallaud - Belkacem: digital will give us access to meaning.

The revolution is scientific

We have understood that Snow starts from this postulate: industrialization is a universal vector of progress.
" Health, food, education: only the industrial revolution was able to bring these benefits to even the most disadvantaged. This is what we essentially gained from it. There are also, it is true, negative aspects to the picture: one of these being that a highly industrialized society is easier to organize than another with a view to total war. But the conquests remain. They are the basis of our social hope. "
Let's move on to the detail that is "total war", this flash of lucidity does not prevent the convinced scientist from being blinded like the last of the believers. « Extending the scientific revolution to India, Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, he says, is the only way to avert the three dangers that threaten us: nuclear war, overpopulation and the gap between rich and poor. "Curiously, it does not occur to the physicist that there is a link between nuclear war and the "scientific revolution". Nor even between the growing inequality between rich and poor and the same revolution. On the contrary, he claims that by the year 2000, the division between rich and poor will have disappeared thanks to technology.
Snow was wrong to despise intellectuals. If he had read Jacques Ellul's book.., The Technique or the stake of the centurypublished in 1954, or The Obsolescence of Man by Günther Anders, published in 1956, he might have written less nonsense, if he had understood the logic of the technical headlong rush, and the anthropological rupture caused by nuclear innovation.
Poor consolation for us, shipwrecked in a world devastated by technoscientists: the ideas of Ellul, Anders, and critical thinkers of technology, honed over sixty years ago, were right. And Snow's ideas, as wrong as they were - we can see what happened to the equality between rich and poor in the technosphere - they won. This confirms the fact that science has nothing to do with meaning. Indeed, the revolution that turned the world and our lives upside down was scientific. Well done, labs. It is understandable that Snow's text was published in France in 1968 by a publisher considered subversive, Jean-Jacques Pauvert. Finally a sweep of humanist antiquities to make way for the future, innovation and revolution!
As Snow notes: " The industrial society of electronics, nuclear energy and automation is in many ways radically different in nature from its predecessors and is set to change the face of the world much more. It is this transformation that, in my view, constitutes the real "scientific revolution". » ».
But why? So that your connected watch can check that you have taken your 10,000 daily steps. So that millions of Chinese, Indians, Parisians and even Parisians travel around the city with a mask on their nose. So that polar bears disappear from the face of the earth. So that we can graft ourselves the electronic implants that will make us more efficient in the universal competition. So that this world of intelligent objects, technological devices and machines no longer needs humans.
In order to succeed in this revolution, it took the acceleration of techno-capitalism. And Snow to wrap himself up in a chapter that should be read aloud by all those who still donkey that we have to distinguish
"Pure" and "applied" science. « Pure science has been put at the service of industry: no more trial and error or ideas launched by a handful of "inventors", but, this time, something serious, solid and true. "Certainly, "pure" scientists have been a little reluctant to acknowledge this evidence. However, " in their defence (...) they took the turn fairly easily" during the Second World War, which pushed them to "learn about the problems of industry. It was an eye-opener for them ".
Happy advent of Big Science. The mobilization of battalions of engineers, researchers and technicians from public laboratories alongside industrialists and the military in the race for the atomic bomb: the Manhattan Project. Having proved its effectiveness, the research-industry-armed forces alliance became the driving force behind research and development in times of economic war - what we now call innovation.
No nanoelectronic components will be installed in all communicating gadgets without the alliance between the Grenoble Atomic Energy Commission and the multinational STMicroelectronics, without the participation of the State, Europe and local authorities in the public-private investment plan.
3.5 billion Nano 2017. A program to help the chip maker "take the next technological leap to stay globally competitive with the United States and Asia" [Nano 2017, 2013 press release] is a worthy emulation of C.P. Snow.
Discovering the State subsidy to STMicro for the year 2014 in the amended finance bill, Professor of Law at the Faculty of Montpellier Yann Bisiou choke : « 274 million euros is the annual budget of three LLASHS universities (Letters, Languages, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), two multidisciplinary universities, more than the annual budget of the University of Grenoble 1 or even the University Paris Diderot! Why so much generosity for a single project? ». Another literary man who asks "why?"
It's simple though: LLASHS universities pay much less than the Grenoble chip factory, and we need a technocracy to stay in the race for technological innovation.
Snow admits, in a supplement to his lecture added four years later, that the machine world will need the humanities and social sciences to acclimatize humans. He calls it the Third culture : " Certain difficulties of communication (editor's note: between literary and scientific) will in fact be smoothed out: for this culture will necessarily, if only to fulfil its function, have to maintain relations with the scientific culture. "
And that's why the digital humanities exist. On the whole, the mass has bent in the face of techno-totalitarianism. Some reactionaries mourn the Latin lessons, but the masses have given up thinking, assailed by all the "how? "that its mechanical existence poses to it.
Parts and labour
*Parts and Labouris a collective that presents itself as a "do-it-yourself workshop for the construction of a critical mind in Grenoble, has been acting since autumn 2000 in various ways: surveys, events, meetings, books, leaflets, posters, brochures, media and internet interventions, etc. »
Rejecting marginal adjustments and simple supervisory measures, this group does not hesitate, after rigorous investigation, to declare its radical rejection of this or that technological field: Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), mobile telephony, and - above all - nanotechnologies: far from being "obscurantist", PMO sheds light on the way these technoscientific projects are deployed, driven by emulation and greed.
Claiming the heckling that led, in early 2010, to the sinking of the "public debate on nanotechnology", these rebels are following in the footsteps of Jacques Ellul, and claim the heritage of the Luddite workers who, in the 19th century, broke the machines that forced them to return to serfdom.
The complete article is available on the website PMO

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Abdennour Bidar
Previous article

Abdennour Bidour: What is the ecological crisis the sign of?

economic competitivity
Next article

Can the myth of competitiveness through flexi-security withstand the plundering of the world?

Latest articles from Analyses



Already registered? I'm connecting

In order to contribute to the information effort on the current coronavirus crisis, UP' proposes to its readers a free entry to the latest published articles related to this theme.

→ Register for free to continue reading.



You have received 3 free articles to discover UP'.

Enjoy unlimited access to our content!

From $1.99 per week only.