Michel Serres

Michel Serres nsIn existographies, Michel Serres (1930-) (CR:8) is a French philosopher noted, in philosophical thermodynamics, for his 1980s works said to be “renowned for its philosophical excursions concerning thermodynamics”, most of which, however, being information theory based.

In 1980, Serres, in his The Parasite, one of his best-known books (aside from Hermes), supposedly, used thermodynamics and information theory in the form of fable to explore how human relations are identical to that of the parasite to the host body; although, to note, this may be a secondary interpretation, by either Bruce Clarke or William Paulson, as the book does not seem to use the word thermodynamics. [1]

In 1982, Serres, in his Hermes, discussed the second law in terms of Sigmund Freud and Henri Bergson, the gist of which, however, amounts to ramblings of information theory based extrapolations, which he incorrectly believes is the “daughter of thermodynamics”. (Ѻ)

Serres philosophical thermodynamic theories has been discussed and critiqued by those including: William Paulson, Bruce Clarke, Mazyar Lotfalian, and Ira Livingston.

His 1982 work is described, by Lotfalian, as an extensive work on the history of science and the significance of thermodynamics as it affects the concept of time and its directionality, asserting that time is no longer independent and reversible: it moves towards death. [2]

Serres, as discussed in his 1995 book Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, coauthored with Bruno Latour, commented, in interview, that at the Ecole Normale one of his friends lent him a copy of the newly published 1959 Science and Information Theory by Leon Brillouin. On reading this book, Serres comments “from it I understood that Brillouin was a veritable philosopher of physics—an authentic physics and a philosophy at the same time, somewhat like thermodynamics, from which, in fact, it sprang.” [3]

Serres completed his undergraduate work at the Ecole Normale Superieure in 1955 in philosophy and his PhD in 1968 with a thesis on Gottfried Leibniz’s philosophy. Serres, in the 1960s, taught with Michel Foucault at the Universities of Clermont-Ferrand and Vincennes and was later appointed to the chair of the history of science at Sorbonne, where he also taught. [4]

1. Serres, Michel. (1980). The Parasite (Le Parasite). Grasset.
2. Lotfalian, Mazyar. (2004). Islam, Technoscientific Identities, and the Culture of Curiosity (Serres, pg. 46, etc.). University Press of America.
3. Serres, Michel and Latour, Bruno. (1995). Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time (pg. 12). University of Michigan Press.
4. Lechte, John. (1994). Fifty Key Contemporary Thinkers: from Structuralism to Postmodernity (Michael Serres, pgs. 82-85). Routledge.

External links
Michel Serres – Wikipedia.

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