Colloques 2010



11 Septembre 2010, ENSTA

Epistémologie de la chimie

Organisation : Jean-Pierre Llored




Ecology in the first person


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mardi 6 avril 2010


ISC - 57-59, rue Lhomond - 75005 Paris


Traditional ecology and “deep ecology” may have something in common. Both consider the role of human beings in nature from a third-person standpoint, by either overrating or overlooking the importance of the human species in a broad network of living species. But a completely different approach can be adopted, a first-person approach that does not rely on some value judgment, and that takes the centrality of human beings as a mere contingent consequence of our situation. Then, the central question is no longer about which amount of priority must be ascribed to mankind according to a « view from nowhere », but rather what role human beings ascribe to themselves according to the modalities of embodyment, perception, and insertion in their environment that are offered to them by their culture. This sketches the program of an “Existential ecology” similar to Binswanger’s “existential psychiatry”. Firstly, try to reconstruct the “being-in-one’s-environment” corresponding to each basic cultural orientation, in the same way as the existential psychiatrist reconstructs the “being-in-the-world” of his patients. Secondly, try to redirect this cultural “being-in-one’s-environment”, in the same way as the existential psychiatrist works on the melancholic or schizophrenic “being-in-the-world”.




10h00 Michel Bitbol  Introduction to first-person ecology


10h15 Jean-Pierre Dupuy  Sacralité et désacralisation de la nature

11h00 Joan Halifax  Interbeing: Precepts and Practices of an Applied and First Person Ecology

11h45 Isabelle Stengers  Ecologie et art de la magie


12h30-14h45 Lunch


14h45 Roberto Ferrari  Co-interdependency in Oceanic Islands and  lived experience of finiteness

15h30 Catherine Larrère  Ecologie en première personne : de l'esthétique à l'éthique

16h15 Emilie Hache  Répondre à des appels. Pistes pour une responsabilité morale pragmatique

17h00 Dorothée Legrand  Ecology and Transformativity

17h45 Claudia Andujar  The Yanomami’s being-in-nature (to be confirmed)


18h30 General discussion




Towards the origins of Universe and matter

 Theoretical and epistemological approaches


22-24 March  2010,  Paris

CNRS Auditorium, 3 Rue Michel Ange Paris 75016

National Network of Complex Systems, CREA-Ecole Polytechnique

with the support of the  CNRS Interdisciplinary Program Particles and the Universe


Our understanding of the large scale structure of the cosmos has achieved a spectacular progress during the last 10 years; cosmology has left the realm of philosophical speculation to become high precision science.  Furthermore, since the Universe evolved from a state of extremely high energy and density one can use the knowledge obtained in the study of the elementary particles to approach the origin of the Universe.

According to this view, as one probes smaller and smaller distance scales, or equivalently higher energies, one discovers particles and interactions of higher symmetry. A different set of particles and interactions reveals itself at each scale, up to the highest energies where the unification of gravity and subatomic physics promises to derive particles, forces and even space-time properties from a minimal set of fundamental entities, as it is the case, for example, in the recently developed super-string theories.

Conversely, as the Universe “cools down” from its original high temperature state a series of successive phase transitions break the initial symmetries to form our present-day asymmetric but sufficiently eventful cosmic structures.  An intensive experimental program tries to trace these transitions and the particle content that they correspond, using a series of different instruments from accelerators to gravitational wave antennas. Furthermore, since the vacuum contains virtually the higher energy physics, one can study the latter through “radiative” precision corrections to low-energy observables. 

         Concurrently, a philosophical point of view has gained strength recently, wondering whether one should make a distinction between the origin of things and the origin of their organisation.  This standpoint criticises what it sees as the will to designate a fundamental entity as ultimate source of all things. It points to the fact that the question of the origin of laws and the organisation of matter in large scales has achieved also considerable progress through the refinement of the concepts of emergence and complexity.  The idea of “protection” of the order of the emergent level from the details of the process of the level below, coming from condensed matter physics, permitted the understanding of several laws hitherto unexplained. 

In this view, there is a symmetry between emergent levels: one should not distinguish between a “substratum” scale equipped with “fundamental  properties” and a higher scale whose laws can be reduced to a variety of dynamical relationships between the “fundamental” entities of the scale below. The “emergentist” school puts thus in question the distinction between levels and would like to generalize the relational or organisational model to all scales, including the scale of “elementary” processes. The idea of an ultimate foundation of things is also put in question. If there is no difference between fundamental and emergent levels, the first should not receive any theoretical priority. 

To these arguments, those accused of being “fundamentalists” answer that far from giving priority to the “fundamental” level they simply believe that different processes should be examined at their pertinent scale and that new mathematical laws can be explored at each scale.

This workshop has the ambition to trigger a high level discussion of the above views; they do correspond after all to the two meanings of  “arche”, the Greek word for origin, both foundation and organisation principle.   




March  22


13h30   Jean-Loup Puget         :     Epistemological problems of Cosmology

14h30   Francis Bernardeau  :       Dark energy, the status of vacuum

15h30 Jean Paul Blaizot        :       Particles, matter and phase transitions

16H30 Coffee

17h00   Erik Verlinde            :       Origins of Gravity

18h00 Tian Yu  Cao                : Philosophical reflections on emergence in cosmology

19h00  End of first day


March 23


09h30  Jean Iliopoulos      : Symmetries and elementary particles 

10H30 Yves Couder           : Wave-matter duality

11H30 Elena Castellani     : Fundamentality, emergence and scales

12h30 Lunch

14h00 Pierre Binetruy        :  Inflation and Multiverses

15h00 Matteo Smerlak          :  Uncertain cosmogony

16H00 Coffee

16h30  Michel Bitbol               : On the concept of origin

17h30  Paul Humphreys    :  Synchronic and Diachronic Fundamentalism

18h30 End of the day


March 24


9h30   Joe Silk    :  Formation of cosmological structures

10h30 Christophe Malaterre  : Chemical evolution and the emergence of biological entities

11h30  General Discussion 

12h30  M. Spiro   :  Concluding remarks