Kritiki: Issue 7 (2008)

Contents of the issue and links to the abstracts (full texts available in Greek - see corresponding page):

Ole Skovsmose: Reflections as a challenge

Reflections on mathematics-based actions and practices bring an ethical dimension to the notion of reflection, and this is the aspect I consider and develop in this essay. I elaborate on the notion of reflection by addressing eight different issues. (1) The necessity of reflection emerges from the observation that mathematics-based actions do not have any intrinsic link to progress by virtue of being mathematics-based. Such actions can be as complex and as questionable as any other actions. (2) Although reflections, from this perspective, are believed to be necessary, one could cite a functionality of nonreflection. For example, non-reflection enables the school mathematics tradition to continue to ensure that the future labour force has particular competencies in the right measures to match the social order for which they are destined. (3) Reflections often presuppose specificity, as they include general as well as specific reconsiderations with respect to some knowledge, actions and practices. (4) I use collectivity of reflections to refer to the observation that ethical considerations can be facilitated through interaction and communication. Often this presupposes that challenging questions be formulated in order to open up the ethical dimension with respect to mathematics in action. (5) Reflections presuppose directedness and involvement, and this brings me to analyse the intentionality of reflections. (6) Reflections can address very many different issues, which leads me to recognise the diversity of reflections. (7) It is easy to ignore or to obstruct reflections, and when reflections emerge, they can easily be eliminated from an educational context. We should never ignore the fragility of reflections. (8) This brings me to recognise the uncertainty of reflection. Reflections cannot rely on any solid foundation. Still, I find that reflections are necessary.
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John Milios: The Marxian Notion of the Asiatic Mode of Production as a Critique to Evolutionary Approaches to History

The Asiatic Mode of Production (AMP) refers to the structural elements of a special type of pre-capitalist societies: a) absence of private property of the means of production, b) collective organization (economic, political and ideological) of the ruling class in a despotic state, c) collective organization of the ruled-laboring class in (village) communities.
Theoretically, the concept of AMP is not compatible with the mechanistic - economistic version of Marxism, which practically eliminates class struggle from Marxist theory of social evolution, and conceives human History as an exact succession of society forms, fully pre-determined by technical progress (the “development of Productive Forces”). According to this scheme, (which was codified and formed to a dogma by Soviet Marxists under Stalin), there are “four stages” (primitive communism, slave-owning society, feudalism, capitalism) which all mankind was supposed to pass necessarily through, leaving thus no place for the AMP.
The concept of AMP is also connected with political dispute, since it makes clear that the absence of private property in the legal sense does not necessarily mean abolition also of class power and exploitation, or, in other words, that class exploitation of the laborers may attain collective forms
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Kostas Stergiopoulos: Is the success of Science Contingent?

After a brief presentation of the naturalistic approach of scientific realism, and after reconstructing the argument of the “inference to the best explanation” in a way that conforms with the demands of the naturalistic approach, this paper argues that this argument does not meet the claims of radical contingency which, according to the interpretation of scientific realist, has to characterize science’s success.

Anna Kostoula: Giambattista Vico, the Republic of Letters

Critique to the scientific enterprise is identified usually with the Catholic Church. Science has come out of this conflict as a free enterprise. Bacon’s New Atlantis gave the image of the ideal state which guaranteed the production of citizens appropriate for this great undertaking. No other critique reached the level of a conflict.
Towards the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th, right after the great Newtonian success, the Italian philosopher Giambatista Vico dares to express his disagreement with the New Philosophy and the ethos it demanded from its participants. With the hope that one can learn from a critique to our present Republic of letters, I try to reconstruct the characteristics of the Republic Vico envisaged for the learned. For this I make use of his two major works, The Autobiography of Giambattista Vico and On the Study Methods of Our Time.
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Hellen Giannakopoulou: Organization and Governance of Education. Questions and Comments

Comments and questions concerning aspects of the “educational management” as a practice exercised in various post of an educational system, as an academic subject taught in undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as a discipline with its own conceptual framework and research field are put forward in this paper. It is concluded that its conceptual delimitation against the related disciplines of “educational policy” and “educational sociology” addressing similar points but from quite different perspectives is a prerequisite of its scientific development.
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Ioanna Stavrou: Science Education and Literature of Science Fiction: critical approaches

This work pertains to the contribution of science fiction texts to Science Education. We argue that science fiction, as cultural form, but above all as a way of thinking might help us to generate new ways of imagining global transitions in social environments and civil society in our present times and circumstances, and therefore could invite a more social and critical approach in the context of Science Education. We also argue that the conjunction of disciplines/cultures figured by the term “science fiction” bears re-examination as a resource for Science Studies and a potential mediator in science-humanities encounters. Moreover, science fiction, as product and part of the social consciousness of the contemporary world, could be an important participant in critical negotiations with techno scientific discourses. We conclude that these creative and critical conversations around sciences, such as science fiction, function as an enormously fertile environment of socio-cultural understanding of Science and Technology, and situate science fiction as a resourceful agent to respond to the political and ethical consequences that Science has in the world (human and non-human). Such approaches go a long way to develop culturally sensitive and sociocultural perspectives in Science Education, and contribute to educate a new generation of scientifically and politically literate citizens who actively take part in social processes.
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Nikos Nikisianis and Giorgos P. Stamou: "Sustainability for biodiversity" ... on the relation between ideology and science at the dominant discourse of contemporary evology

A frame of popular concepts, like conservation, management, natural limits and, specially, (bio)diversity and sustainability is dominating the scientific and social discourse of ecology. Although these concepts are recognized as scientific, ecologists note their shortfall of positive definition. On the other hand, these concepts have powerful social uses, bridging science with economy and politics. Epistemological theories about the relation between science and ideology suggest that this role may hint ideological metaphors.
Indeed, it can be shown that (bio)diversity, as a quantification of the constructed totality of natural qualities, is based on the dominance of exchange value in economy, transferring its function in the interior of science. Correspondingly, the metaphor of “natural capital” in the frame of sustainability is a direct reflection of the reproductive process of total social capital. More generally, theories around sustainability seem to share the same anthropological base with classic bourgeois political economy.
These concepts have a two-direction role: importing inside science dominant ideological positions and social demands and exporting them as scientific documented demands. It is supported that these directions are not independent. As a matter of fact, the ecological demand for sustainable development ultimately expresses the dominant social demand for reproduction of capital, or for economical development. Finally, the theory of ideology is used to examine how only some of these ideological concepts dominate their scientific/ideological field, determining all others. Upon this ground, ecology is perceived as a “science of biodiversity”, aiming at the “sustainability of natural wealth”.
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