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John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
Mark Bauerlein
Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Lem’s Summa Technologiae and the Two Cultures

Posted by Jonathan Goodwin on 09/02/05 at 09:48 AM

Michael Kandel, whose pellucid translations of Lem are well known, asks for advice about writing a grant proposal for the translation of Summa Technologiae:

A scientist and I are applying for a government grant to
translate Lem’s SUMMA TECHNOLOGIAE (we have Lem’s
approval), and we’re trying to make the case for why
American intellectuals today need to listen to a Polish
essay written forty years ago.

I’m arguing that successful attempts to bridge
C.P. Snow’s “two-cultures” division between the
sciences and the humanities are very rare:
I gave as examples Stephen Jay Gould,
Douglas R. Hofstadter,and John Allen Paulos
(A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper).

Can you think of anyone else? Or any examples of
how this gap is damaging to our culture?

Thanks.

Michael

As this is a work that sorely needs to be translated into English, I wanted to extend this query to the Valve’s audience. I would suggest that Lem’s book is both remarkably prescient and bitingly critical of the entire concept of futurism, which may have had a stronger hold on the public imagination when it was written than it does now.


Comments

Which governmental agency is the grant application being sent to?  I can’t tell whether citing the Sokal hoax and its aftermath book would help or not.

By on 09/02/05 at 01:49 PM | Permanent link to this comment

There is an incomplete translation available here.
[LINK]

By Fadereu on 09/04/05 at 12:42 AM | Permanent link to this comment

There is an incomplete translation, I don’t know how good, here. [LINK]

By Fadereu on 09/04/05 at 12:54 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Brian Cantwell Smith’s <objects</i> (MIT 1996) has my vote for an important and valuable bridging of the “two cultures,” but then again I think Latour’s “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam?” from Critical Inquiry #30 an important attempt to work the divide.

By on 09/05/05 at 03:43 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Okay, let’s try this again:

Brian Cantwell Smith’s “On the Origin of Objects” (MIT 1996) is a fruitful attempt to work the divide, but remember that I’m fond of Latour’s “Why Critique Has Run Out of Steam” from Critical Inquiry (#30) and so your mileage may vary with your inclinations.

By on 09/05/05 at 03:47 PM | Permanent link to this comment

how is the translation coming along?

By on 02/15/09 at 09:37 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Seconding that question. How IS that translation proceeding?

By on 06/06/10 at 11:09 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I read the Summa in the German translation in the 80’s in the then communist part of Germany. It is a work that had a most profound impact on my youthful mind.

An English translation would make this work accessible to the world, maybe a grant from a philanthropic organisation may be a better choice. The Summa should belong to the world, not to the Government of one country. Just being selfish, I would like to have daughter able to read it.

Many of the concepts and approaches from the Summa would benefit the whole of humanity and may hold keys to dealing with the problems we are about to encounter in future.

By on 12/28/10 at 09:51 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I would love an English translation of this. Stanislaw Lem is one of my favorite fiction writers, largely, I think, because of the philosophical issues he explores. It would be great to read something of his that treated such subjects in a more direct way, as I presume this book does.

By on 01/20/11 at 05:53 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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