Archives For Lyudmila Markova

Author Information: Lyudmila Markova, Russian Academy of Science, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila. “Transhumanism in the Context of Social Epistemology.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 6, no. 7 (2017): 50-53.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-3EQ

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Robert Frodeman (2015) and Steve Fuller (2017) discuss the problem of transhumanism in the context of history. This approach to transhumanism—a subject now studied actively by many specialists—clearly shows us the focus of current investigations. A virtual world, created by humans and possessing intelligence, demands a special kind of communication. But we are not the only ones changing. Humans programmed robots to perform calculations at a speed we cannot match.

Still, we remain certain that robots will never be able to feel a sense of joy or disappointment, of love or hatred. At the same time, it is difficult to deny that robots already know how to express emotions. Often, we prefer to deal with robots—they are generally polite and answer our questions quickly and clearly.

Even though we are unable to produce particular operations at a certain speed, we still use the results of the robots’ work. But the senses remain inaccessible to robots. Yet, they have learned many of the ways humans make their feelings known to others. A common ground is forming among humans and robots. People use techniques for communication with one another and with artificial intellects based on the laws of the virtual world, and artificial intellects use signs of human feelings—which are only signs and nothing more.

As we debate transhumanism as something that either awaits us, or does not, in the future we fail to consider the serious transformations of our current lives. To some extent, we are already trans-humanoids with artificial parts of our body, with the ability to change our genome, with cyber technology, with digital communication and so on. We do not consider these changes as radically transforming our future selves and our current selves. We do not notice to what extent we differ already from our children and, consequently, from the next generation.

Until recently, we relied first on our knowledge of the laws of the material world. We studied nature and our artificial world was material. Now, we study our thinking and our artificial world is not simply material—it can think and it can understand us. Its materiality, then, is of a different type. The situation in society is quite another and, in order to live in it, we have to change ourselves. Perhaps we have not noticed that the process of our becoming transhumanoids has already begun?

We have a philosophical basis for the discussions about transhumanism. It is social epistemology, where some borders disappear and others appear. Steve Fuller frequently refers to the topic of transhumanism in the context of social epistemology.

“Sociality” in Social Epistemology: The Turn in Thinking

As we speak of both the technization of humans and humanization of machines, the border between humans and technology becomes less visible. In social epistemology, the sense of “social” is important for understanding this turn in thinking during the last century. You can find without difficulty (long before the emergence of social epistemology) the adoption of phrases such as the “social” history of science, the “social” organization of scientific institutes, the “social” character of the scientific (and not only scientific) knowledge, “social” character of the work of a scientist and so on. People created science and everything associated with it is connected to our world in one way or another.

Nobody denies the existence of these relations. The problem resides in their interpretation. Even if you want to see the advantage of your position in striving to eliminate traces of the scientists’ work and conditions under which the results were obtained, you have to know what you want to eliminate and why. In social epistemology, on the contrary, sociality remains in scientific knowledge. Still, serious problems follow as a result.

It is important to understand that anything we study acquires human features because we introduce them into it. We comprehend nature (in the broadest sense of this word) not as something opposed, or even hostile, to people. We deal with a thinking world. For example, we want to have a house that protects us from rain and cold. It is enough to know physical characteristics of materials in order to build such a house. But now we can have a “smart” house. This house alerts you when you return home in the evening that there is no kefir in the fridge and the cat needs food you must buy. You like your new car, but you want to have a navigator. We now have driverless cars. And drones are widely used for military and economic purposes. I have listed just a very few cases when robots help us in our daily lives. We are built into this world and we are accustomed to it.

Still, electronics can complicate and hinder our lives. For instance, you drive the most recent Mercedes model. Your car automatically brakes if you follow too closely and your steering wheel turns in an unexpected way. At the same time, if you drive an old car without any electronic equipment, you feel in control of the situation. The behavior of the machine depends entirely on your actions.

Classical and Non-Classical Logic

Thinking in the context of social epistemology is plugged into empirical reality. This fact is considered usually as an abandonment of logic. But this is not so. The fact is that classical logic has exhausted itself. A new logic, radically different from the classical one, is just emerging. What is the difference?

David Hume, one of the founders of the classical philosophy, wrote about the British and French. They are different people, of course, but philosophically they have a common feature—they are humans. Take another example. You are talking to the same person in different situations. In the office, this person is not the same as they are at home or in the street. As a rule, it is not important to you that you deal every time with the same person, this is obvious without any justification. The person is interesting from the point of view of their characteristics as a member of work team or as a family member. Every person manifests themselves in a specific way in a concrete situation. And this fact is taken into account in a new type of logic. This logic is rooted in specific frameworks.

We can see the attention to specific sociality in the formation of social epistemology. It is necessary to understand, in Fuller’s opinion, why scientists receive different results when they generally have the same set of books, the same knowledge, and the same conditions of work. Fuller pays attention to what surrounds the scientist here and now and not in the past. The history and the process of scientific knowledge development is understood by us with our logical means. As a result, they inevitably become some part of our present.

The notion of space becomes more important than the notion of time. Gilles Deleuze wrote about this in his logic. Robert Frodeman identifies his approach as “field philosophy”. This name identifies features of our current thinking. Russian philosopher Merab Mamardashvilly thought that in order to understand emerging scientific knowledge it is necessary that it be considered outside the “arrow of time”.

The former connection between the past and future, in order to deduce a new result from previous knowledge. is not suitable. In the last century, dialog became more widespread. Its logical justification in science was given in the scientific revolution of the beginning of 20th century physics. For us, it is important to notice that quantum mechanics replaced classical physics on the front lines of the development of science. But classical physics was not destroyed and its proponents continue to work and give society useful results. This feature of the non-classical scientific logic is noteworthy: it does not declare its predecessor as not scientific, as not having the ability to decide corresponding problems. Moreover, this new logic needs its predecessor and dialogical communication with it. In the course of this dialog both sides change, trying to improve their positions in the same when two people talk.

That is why I do not agree with <a href="http://” target=”_blank”>Justin Cruickshank (2015) when he writes that Karl Popper’s idea of a fallibilism is connected in some way with dialog. For Popper, the main aim is to criticize and, in the end, to destroy to falsify a theory, in order replace it with a new theory. As a result, dialog becomes impossible because for it we need to have at least two interlocutors or theories. For Popper, an ideal situation is when we deal with one person, a winner. In Russia, the topic of dialog was studied by Mikhail Bakhtin and Vladimir Bibler.

Context

Dialog is one of the forms of communication between different events in the history. If we consider, as an ideal, all studied events from the point of view of their common characteristics, we then deal with one person and we have nobody for dialog. The differing conditions of a scientist’s, or any other person’s, work is not taken into consideration. We have classical thinking—one subject, one object, one logic.

As I understand Ilya Kasavin (2017), he does not investigate the construction of Kara-Kum Canal as an inference from the Peter the Great’s plan. A connection exists between these two projects. Yet, each of them is considered as unique, as having its own context. So, it is not correct to ask Kasavin: “What traces and records were left of the project imagined by Peter the Great, how were they interpreted and reinterpreted over the course of hundreds the years, and how, if at all, did they influence Stalin’s project?” (Bakhurst and Sismondo, 2017). The “arrow of time” as a coherent chain of events from Peter the Great to Stalin exists. But it is not important in the frame of non-classical thinking to study first, and in all detail, this chain for the understanding the situation with the construction of Kara-Kum Canal.

The same may be said about the emergence of transhumanism as a scientific area. It is created in the context that is formed from the outside world by choosing those elements which would be able to help us to comprehend some problem. One of the most important features of the context is the presence of both ideal elements (the past scientific knowledge, for instance), and the material elements in world existing around us. Context, as a whole, is the beginning of a new result when we think, and it is not surprising that we have a notion of transhumanism containing the ability of thinking and material carrier of a thought. Robotics corresponds to this understanding of transhumanism and that helps us to see the border between human and robot as less defined.

Conclusion

We see the current signs of human transformation which were seemingly impossible just a few decades ago. Even those who are against such changes do not object to them when they seek medical help or when they have the opportunity to facilitate their everyday life. In many cases, then, radical changes go against our will and we do not protest against them.

We are creating our artificial world on the basis of the knowledge not only of the material world, but also of our thinking. We put this knowledge into the surrounding world in the process of investigation, and we cannot imagine it without the ability to think. The world is becoming able to think, to understand us, to answer our questions.

As our thinking becomes different, we notice its turn. It is directed not at nature, at the world around us, but at humans. At the same time, nature acquires certain human characteristics. This turn is the basis of many serious problems connected initially with notions of the truth and objectivity of scientific knowledge. But these problems are not the topic of this comment.

References  

Bakhurst, David and Sergio Sismondo. “Commentary on Ilya Kasavin’s ‘Towards a Social Philosophy of Science: Russian Prospects’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 6, no. 4 (2017): 20-23.

Cruickshank, Justin. “Anti-Authority: Comparing Popper and Rorty on the Dialogic Development of Beliefs and Practices.” Social Epistemology 29, no. 1 (2015): 73-94.

Frodeman, Robert. “Anti-Fuller: Transhumanism and the Proactionary Imperative.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 4 (2015): 38-43.

Fuller, Steve. “Twelve Questions on Transhumanism’s Place in the Western Philosophical Tradition.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, 19 April 2017. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-3yl.

Kasavin, Ilya. “Towards a Social Philosophy of Science: Russian Prospects.” Social Epistemology 31, no. 1 (2017): 1-15.

Author Information: Lyudmila Markova, Russian Academy of Science, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila A. “A Reply to Fuller’s Prolegomena.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 7 (2016): 52-53.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-373

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brexit_leave

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I agree with Steve Fuller that an event such as Brexit should be studied from the standpoint of philosophy and sociology. However, Fuller’s own social epistemology is quite suitable for this purpose. It seems strange that he does not use directly his own ideas for understanding current transformations in society. My own thinking comes in light of social epistemology presence in the mainstream of Russian philosophy in the last few decades. Of course, there are differences in my position and Fuller’s, but we share much in common.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Markova Lyudmila, Russian Academy of Science, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila. “The Text in Science and Religion.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 7-8.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2dl

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  • Markova, Lyudmila. “A New Look at Known Issues.”Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 7 (2015): 1-5.

text

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I re-discovered on reading Steve Fuller’s comment—(http://bit.ly/1K17uXl) on “A New Look at Known Issues”—that a well-known idea, placed in a new context, can contribute to the birth of an unexpected perspective on the topic at hand. I refer to Fuller’s opinion that both science and religion are tied to texts, and that this feature is essential to both enterprises. Fuller states: “The significance of reality’s ‘textuality’ or even ‘bookishness’ is that it presumes a sense of communicability that overcomes distance in time and space.” Let’s reflect on Fuller’s words, where communication is the key idea.  Continue Reading…

Author Information:Lyudmila Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2aM

god_dialogue

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Thank you, Adam, for such a quick response to my comment. Unfortunately, I am not an expert regarding the philosophical understanding of religion. Many years ago I published a book about the border between religion and science, but now the time and the problems are quite different. Nevertheless, I need to know the current state of affairs in this area as I begin to write an article (in Russian) about the Islamic religion, science and philosophy. An impetus for this work was the discussion on the SERRC about the relationships between Islam and science. I plan also to write a comment for the SERRC.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila Markova, Russian Academy of Science, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila. “A New Look at Known Issues.”[1] Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 7 (2015): 1-5.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-29J

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  • Riggio, Adam and Steve Fuller. Knowing Knowledge Part VIII: Knowing Necessary Possibilities.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, May 4, 2015. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-23w.
  • Riggio, Adam and Steve Fuller. “Knowing Knowledge Part VII: Making It Politically Explicit.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, April 21, 2015. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-22H.
  • Riggio, Adam and Steve Fuller. “Knowing Knowledge Part VI: Threats to Public Knowledge.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, April 21, 2015. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-22s.
  • Riggio, Adam and Steve Fuller. “Knowing Knowledge Part V: Refuse Simplicity and the Status Quo.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, April 17, 2015. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-22f.
  • Riggio, Adam and Steve Fuller. “Knowing Knowledge lV: Honesty as Anarchy.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, April 14, 2015. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-21Q.
  • Riggio, Adam and Steve Fuller. “Knowing Knowledge III.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, April 12, 2015. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-21c.
  • Riggio, Adam and Steve Fuller. “Knowing Knowledge II: The God Behind Problems of Knowledge.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, April 7, 2015. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-20P.
  • Riggio, Adam and Steve Fuller. “Knowing Knowledge I: Knowledge Is a Historical Process.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, April 4, 2015. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-20l.

science_is_ok

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Adam Riggio and Steve Fuller’s discussion—over Fuller’s Knowledge: The Philosophical Quest in History (2014)—involves us in the process of forming a new system of philosophical notions. Notions that, until recently, were perceived as basic and unchangeable, acquire quite different meanings and even get removed. During the discussion, many important ideas become problematic—which helps us understand the peculiarities of current thinking.

Fuller defends his views by relying on social epistemology (of which he is the founder). Indeed, an understanding of what it means for knowledge to be social allows us to see the main characteristics of Fuller’s thinking. I will allow myself to dwell briefly on the turn in thinking about scientific knowledge over the past few decades, which finds expression in a new interpretation of knowledge and important features, discussed by Riggio and Fuller. I am more familiar with Fuller’s ideas, so I find it easier to understand his position in this debate.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila. “Comment on ‘Scientist as Fiction Writer: Soviet Science-Fiction and Space Exploration'”. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 3 (2015): 56.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1X6

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luna_1

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Tatyana Sokolova (2014) states that her paper examines “the interaction between philosophical ideas and technical achievements based on an analysis of Soviet science fiction literature from 1920s to 1957 (the year of the launch of Satellite-1), as well as of its critics from the scientific community” (3). I maintain that Sokolova’s paper also speaks to the contemporary landscape since the issue of the relationship between science and art is explored in many ways with many different results. In the 20th century, scientific knowledge was understood as justified more by the process of its receiving, and by the author of this process, than by the object of study. It was a radical turn from classical thinking where the purpose of study was to get true knowledge—which meant its correspondence with the object of investigation. The personality of the scientist, their human characteristics, as well as environmental circumstances should be eliminated from the results obtained. At the same time, the matter is quite different in art where the significance of creative activities remains much more noticeable. It is interesting for observers to know who the painter of the picture is, when they lived, and where, and in what cultural circumstances, they worked. And readers cannot be indifferent to the information about the author of the fiction they read.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila A Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila A. “Understanding, Not Only Cognition.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 5 (2014): 52-55.

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Introduction

Recently, we discussed the idea of the surrounding world as able to perceive and to think. If the whole world is alive, we can converse with each thing as if it is a living creature. Of course, humans pay special attention to non-human animals [1] that we understand as having the highest level of intellect. But many questions arise. Can we see animals as our equals? Can animals have the same rights we have? Do animals need “our rights” or, perhaps, are their lives unique so as to obey other norms of behavior? I confess that when I first read the articles on this topic on the Review and Reply Collective, I did understand the importance of the discussion. The discussion seemed only to pretend to make philosophical sense. However, my opinion changed when I read the articles again and the response of Gregory Sandstrom to my previous comment. I am now convinced of the usefulness of these discussions.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila. 2013. “Are Consensus and Pluralism Compatible? A Reply to Steve Fuller.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (7): 35-39.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-Pm

Please refer to: Fuller, Steve. 2013. “Against consensus — but to what end? Reply to Riggio.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (3) 25-31.

Editor’s Note: Professor Markova provided a extended comment on Fuller’s “Against Consensus” on 12 June 2013. Given the detail and importance of Professor Markova’s argument, the comment was edited slightly and posted as a critical reply.

Introduction

I start with Steve Fuller’s remark about difficulties in the understanding the procedure of obtaining knowledge:

How should the pursuit of knowledge be organized, given that under normal circumstances knowledge is pursued by many human beings, each working on a more or less well-defined body of knowledge and each equipped with roughly the same imperfect cognitive capacities, albeit with varying degree of access to one another’s activities? (1988, 3, original emphasis)

As it seems to me, the main idea of this question is that the transition from the empirical reality with a huge variety of things, people and forms of their activity to the theoretical constructions of scientists and philosophers is hard. One cannot but agree with the fact that this transition really is not easy.

Everything exists in the empirical reality and any theoretical design can find confirmation for itself. But in order to understand reality scientists, philosophers, and sociologists cannot be limited to a mere description of it. Even in the everyday life the activity of a man is based on a certain body of knowledge, necessary for him at a particular place and that time. Continue Reading…