Video-Podcasts of the FRIAS Lunch Lecture Series "Ignorance - what we don't know"
This lunch lecture series leads us to the frontiers of research, its greatest challenge and, some may say, its greatest enemy: what it is that we don't know, and that maybe we will never know! Or: that we don't know yet! Or: that we don't even know yet that we don't know! Or: that we don't want, or should not want, to know! Or: that we are not supposed to know! And in the latter case: who then is it who doesn't want us (academics, ultimately society) to know?
From the different perspectives of a highly diverse set of academic disciplines and research cultures, FRIAS Fellows will address these and other questions relevant for shedding light on ignorance — including its epistemology (which involves issues like its conditions and variation), ethics (which involves issues like self-censorship), politics (which involves issues like agenda setting or censorship), economics (which involves issues like the campaigning power of large companies or sectors of industry), or sociology (which involves issues like the (lacking) impact of science on society and the question what kind of knowledge society wants to share, or see produced, and which rather not). The lecture series will also build on recent research in the fields of „ignorance studies“ and „agnotology“, which tackles the production of ignorance, for example ignorance about the dangers of climate change, smoking, nuclear power, fracking, or sugar in soft drinks. Ignorance is nothing to be ignored! It has many fascinating dimensions, as we shall see and explore, in science as much as in society.
Bernd Kortmann (FRIAS Direktor, Anglistik) and Veronika Lipphardt (UCF, Science & Technology Studies)
Introduction to the Lunch Lecture series "Ignorance - what we don't know"
Epigenetics is among the hottest areas in science right now. It is the study of how genes are switched on and off in plants, animals and humans. While genes remain constant, epigenetic control mechanisms are changing throughout our lifetime and my be transmitted to our offspring. So, you can thank (or blame) your parents and grandparents not only for their genes but also for their lifelong behaviour! The lecture will explore what we know and do not know about epigenetics, and how this knowledge is being applied to the discovery of innovative new medicines.
The Middle East is experiencing one of the darkest periods in its history and a new regional order is still far from being settled. Yet, it appears increasingly clear that few matters will affect its developments more than the ongoing regional demographic dynamics. The region’s history and spatial background provide a framework for approaching these epochal shifts and critically examining the ‘ethnic stabilisation’ thesis, which interprets current demographic movements as a kind of normalization of the region’s ‘original’ demographics. Instead of this ‘medievalization of the Middle East’, many people in the region are keen on ‘getting back into history’ and ‘regaining possession’ of their multifaceted past: a powerful antidote to “ ignorance” and the related geopolitical reductionism so popular nowadays.
While traditionally, networks have often been regarded critically or have even been seen as a means of conspiracy, they have become fashionable over the last ten years in business as well as daily live. Accordingly, the number of publications both scientific and popular has increased significantly. Despite these developments and even though almost anyone would agree to use social networks at least to some extent, there are several important aspects we still do not have a solid understanding of: (1) What are attractive positions in networks and how can individuals obtain these positions? (2) What is the outcome of networks and how can individuals purposefully use their networks? (3) How can companies assess the informal networks in their organization and possibly shape their structures according to their corporate goals?
Literary hermeneutics are driven by an inherent need to produce meaning and understanding through the interpretation of literary texts. In my lunch lecture I want to show that ignorance (understood as an emphatic mode of embracing the unknown and one’s own not-knowing) is an essential part of literary hermeneutics. Drawing on seminal works by 19th century US thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, and more recent hermeneutic endeavors by scholars working in the tradition of Constance School reception aesthetics, my talk aims to provide an understanding of disciplinary ignorance that is based on a rejection of knowledge (Wissen) for the sake of gaining understanding (Verstehen). Meaning (Bedeutung), in that sense, is not produced by knowing but by dedicating oneself to conquer ever-new territories of the unknown.