The Fabrication of Useful Knowledge: An Artisanal Approach

Date: 20 January, 12.30-13.45
Venue: Ravelijn, RA 1315
Speakers: Prof.dr. Bert de Munck (Universiteit Antwerpen)


Ever since the publication of Steven Shapin’s and Simon Shaffer’s book Leviathan and the Air-Pump (published 1985), we know that knowledge is not something which increases, ameliorates and accumulates as a matter of course. Less teleological views typically result from cross-over research, bridging the history of science or knowledge with the history of art, labour, and technology. However, teleological thinking still looms large, among other things as a result of using the term useful knowledge. This concept has helped to create a more integrated view, in which theory and practice and natural philosophy and technological knowledge merged. But simultaneously, it is teleological to the core. It invokes a modernity narrative, implying a process of selection in which only successful types of knowledge survive in a modern society. In this presentation, the concept of useful knowledge will therefore be critically analyzed.