A few notes and coments on the meeting orgnized by Imera and MIM in Aix and Marseille. To start with the basics, the meeting was well organized, well run and well attended: the responsible people be praised!.
The first day in Aix opened with two presentations by J.P Changeux and J. Vion-Dury that showed some of the potential of neurobiology to describe activity in the brain. Some good points about backgorund and signal and how at some point one could "detect" brain activity outside the box, that is outside the cranium. Interesting , intriguing and medically productive as these views are I would like to note that they work on a very short timeframe (in the order of a few seconds) wile it is quite obvious for anyone who tries to think about thinking that relevant patterns develop and unfold over much larger time frames and are not "seen", this does not disqualify shor term shots but limits its use to describe what learning or having fun is all about it usualy takes a little more than 1 sec
J. Arnould came up with a magnificent quote, surprisingly unheard off were Kepler writes to Galileo about how they should devide the task of mapping the cosmos for future travel, he suggets Galileo takes Jupiter and he, Kepler will do the Moon.
J Gagnepain gave a clear and instructive overview of the development of ideas about change in the living world and in the human group. It touched upon one of the central points in this debate, the philosophical and political dimension that the description of change has had in history. He described how several explorers, naturalists and authors form the late 16th on constructed ideas and pressented relevant data to the understanding of change, it was not one man thing, it has moved on since 150 years ago.
This brings us to a point that has agitated me through the meeting and that I think we should clarify if the discussion is to carry on in a productive way.
There are two streams of work that can be placed under the title of this conference, the exploration of how when and why the term and bundle concepts "darwinian evolution" came about and why it is still used today. A political , philosophical and literary endeavour triying to understand how 19th century texts and debates have been made to seem relevant today (we could also discuss a la façon de JL Borges , Pasteurism, Copernicanism and other monstrosities that fortunately do not exist). The other stream, of quite unrelated and extreemely interesting work is the very active feild of contemporary scientific research where short term and long term change in living processes is being investigated. What is confusing is to prentend that contemporary biology of change is made according to 19th century concepts or conversely that 19th century naturalists somehow predicted contemporary biology.
Three artists presented their work I.Massu working with J.Gagnepain in a museum of prehistory who has created multimedia displays stimulating thought on the museum point of view and frame of refference. Chu-Yin Chen presented ellaborate digital automata working in groups where forms of "quorum sensing" operate and shape the outcome.
JL Bec gave a delightful talk on his work inventing forms of life and ways to call them, and in the process he recreates, ironizes, anlayzes in detail and with lucidity the workings of life, art and science
The next two days were in Marseillle and included talks on literary (C.Perez on dreams in cats and cows) , musical , mathematical (JP Allouche) understandings of perception and learning.
P.Mounoud described the suggestive parallelism between the steps a infant goes trough to recognize a face, according to Piaget (with whom he had worked) and the comments by Giacometti during the 18 sessions it took to complete a portrait of someone who was taking notes and pictures of how the work grew and wrote a book.
JL Leroy introduced a flurry of interesting concepts to think about the musical process as dynamic , transient and social. Music as a thinking tool and trace of historical cooperation
J.C Risset brought witness of how paradoxes and digital syntheis of sound had shaped current thinking about music production and perception
The last day took place in an industrial skeletton recolonized by theaters and workshops (la Friche de Belle de Mer) there was a discussion on stage lead by C.Tron and we could hear a remasterized piece from JCRisset and other things from the 1970s and later.
In sum I had a good time and many substantial inputs, if we are to continue with this i would strongly suggest to focus on current info about biology and how change , metabolic, neural, populational comes about as the result of diferential reproduction of modular units that reproduce with some variability in multiple environments, how paleontologists, botanists, biogeochemists , bio informaticians , and yes also zoologists, ethologists, sociologits and political scientists look at, obtain evidence from and describe change.
The darwinian therory of evolution was a precursor and some concepts in it are still used, most of it is fossil, the study of change in life is not a cult to darwin or against or a matter of faith, its the result of sifting evidence and building meaningful representations able to account for the facts with the basic conviction that our knowledge is and can oly be limited, and can be tested.
thank you again to orgaizers and to you if you read..