Department of Informatics
Date 28 February 2014
Time 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Location 6011 Donald Bren Hall
Contact Adriana Avina [Email this contact]

Professor Chandra Mukerji

Communication & Science Studies Department

University of California, San Diego


Title: Tacit Knowledge and Imagination



In the 17th century, Abraham Bosse published a book on Desargues' projective geometry for stone cutters. It was an early, illustrated "how-to" book that used geometry not as a form of reasoning, but rather as a cognitive tool for imagining buildings that were yet unbuilt. The book taught a new way to imagine the shape of stones for construction through a form of virtual apprenticeship. It did not articulate mathematical principles, but addressed the tacit knowledge of artisans through pictures of imaginary arches, mathematical practices, and building tools. Using Deleuze on repetition and Polanyi on tacit knowledge, it is possible to explain these pedagogical practices, and studying Bosse's text this way provides insights into the character of tacit knowledge as a form of cultural imagination, and its distinctive value to problem solving.




Chandra Mukerji is Disguished Professor Emeritus of Communication and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She is interested in materiality and inarticulacy in communication, and studies culture, engineering, and state formation in early modern France. She is concerned with the growth of states as territorial entities, and tries to understand how the built environment and its representation in maps contributed to the growth of the modern state as a system of power. She is author of From Graven Images: Patterns of Modern Materialism (Columbia 1983); A Fragile Power: Science and the State (Princeton 1989), which won the Robert K. Merton Award in 1991; and Territorial Ambitions and the Gardens of Versailles (Cambridge 1997), which won the 1998 Culture book prize from the American Sociological Association; and Impossible Engineering: Technology and Territoriality on the Canal du Midi (2009), which was co-winner in 2012 of the ASA's highest book award, the Distinguished Scholarly Book Award.