Michel Serres in Rennes, February 2011
1 September 1930 |
Agen, Lot-et-Garonne, France
Philosophy of science
Michel Serres (born 1 September 1930) is a French philosopher and author.
Life and career
The son of a barge man, Serres entered France's naval academy, the École Navale, in 1949 and the École Normale Supérieure ("rue d'Ulm") in 1952. He aggregated in 1955, having studied philosophy. He spent the next few years as a naval officer before finally receiving his doctorate in 1968, and began teaching in Paris.
As a child, Serres witnessed firsthand the violence and devastation of war. "I was six for my first dead bodies," he told Bruno Latour. These formative experiences led him consistently to eschew scholarship based upon models of war, suspicion, and criticism.
Over the next twenty years, Serres earned a reputation as a spell-binding lecturer and as the author of remarkably beautiful and enigmatic prose so reliant on the sonorities of French that it is considered practically untranslatable. He took as his subjects such diverse topics as the mythical Northwest Passage, the concept of the parasite, and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. More generally Serres is interested in developing a philosophy of science which does not rely on a metalanguage in which a single account of science is privileged and regarded as accurate. To do this he relies on the concept of translation between accounts rather than settling on one as authoritative. For this reason Serres has relied on the figure of Hermes (in his earlier works) and angels (in more recent studies) as messengers who translate (or: map) back and forth between domains (i.e., between maps).
In 1990, Serres was elected to the Académie française, in recognition of his position as one of France's most prominent intellectuals. He is an influence on intellectuals such as Bruno Latour and Steven Connor. He currently serves as a Professor of French at Stanford University.
In an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serres expressed interest in the emergence of a new political philosophy that addresses the digital context of the 21st Century, "I think that out of this place of no law that is the Internet there will soon emerge a new law, completely different from that which organized our old metric space."
In 2012, Serres was awarded the Meister Eckhart Prize.
- The Natural Contract (1995), University of Michigan Press (English translation by Elizabeth MacArthur and William Paulson)
- M. Serres, "La réforme et les sept péchés," L'Arc, 42, Bachelard special issue (1970).
- In Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time: Michel Serres Interviewed by Bruno Latour, The University of Michigan Press, 1995, ISBN 978-0-472-06548-6.
- Stanford faculty
- Stanford faculty webpage
- 032c.com. "MICHEL SERRES". Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- Quand l'académicien Michel Serres valide Wikipédia - Framablog
- "The Natural Contract". University of Michigan Press. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
- Media related to Michel Serres at Wikimedia Commons
- Online Collaboration regarding Serres work
- art, writing: michel serres (1995) Interview with Serres by Hari Kunzru including a brief exchange on the relationship of Serres work to Deleuze.
- Steven Connor's website, with links to his writing on Serres
- (French) Radio Interview by Robert P. Harrison
- (French) L'Académie française
- (French) Serres speaking about wikipedia very enthusiastically
- Michel Serres, one of France's 'immortels,' tells the 'grand récit' at Stanford by Cynthia Haven, Stanford Report, May 27, 2009.