Apply your philosophy

I’ve been on something of an applied philosophy1 binge recently and after almost finishing “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War”2 I am now starting to read Aramis which Latour opens with:

I have sought to offer humanists a detailed analysis of a technology sufficiently magnificent and spiritual to convince them that the machines by which they are surrounded are cultural objects worthy of their attention and respect. They’ll find that if they add interpretation of machines to interpretation of texts, their culture will not fall to pieces; instead, it will take on added density. I have sought to show technicians that they cannot even conceive of a technological ohject without taking into account the mass of human beings with all their passions and politics and pitiful calculations, and that by becoming good sociologists and good humanists they can become better engineers and better­ informed decisionmakers.

I read these texts not only because as Latour promises it will turn me into a better engineer (and designer) but because only works of sufficient conceptual depth and denseness contain the force necessary to alter and improve our thinking. Books should never be tedious but they are allowed to be straining3.

  1. I’m not a big fan of the other kind.
  2. This is actually a biography and not exactly the kind of book I was looking for but it provides a good overview of the various disciplines that Boyd influenced. I will have to and will read the PhD thesis “Science Strategy and War” by Frans Osinga for the in depth treatment of his theories.
  3. This is also the reason why pop-sci is usually a waste of time.

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