Workshop 1 - Introduction, day 2

Bron Szerszynski - Introduction to the second day of the workshop

Opening the second day of the workshop 1, Bron Szerszynski outlined four themes which had emerged in the previous day's discussion.

Firstly, he referred to the distinction between experimentation as content - as an activity that we may or may not find in the world, for example in earlier cultures - and as a method - the way that human sciences such as anthropology or archaeology can experiment with their modes of interrogating the world. Referring to Christina Toren's paper, he pointed to the complex dialectic that can arise between the two levels, when discerning how people live in radically different cultures can cause us to question our own assumptions about the world.

Secondly, Szerszynski pointed to the problem of extension in terms of the fact that not all human action is experimentation and not only human action is experimentation.

The third theme related to the use of cognate terms and near-synonyms of experimentality (i.e. experiment and experience, trial and error, and innovation). Participants might want to return to interrogating the relationship between them.

And fourthly, ontologies, world views and metaphysics were posed as a problematic - across culture and across time, whenever one raises questions about experimentation, one is never far from having to engage  inquestions about different metaphysical understandings of the world.

Finally, Bron Szerszynski referred to the challenges of interdisciplinarity approach taken in the programme emphasizing that we, as participants, are all talking outside our specialisms (in terms of methods and ways of talking as well as specific references), and a productive debate will only be possible if we take account of this in the way we communicate our ideas.