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Spinozalens 2020 awarded to French philosopher Bruno Latour

On the 21st of November the International Spinozaprijs Foundation announced the laureates for 2019-2020. The French philosopher and sociologist Bruno Latour (1949) will receive the Spinozalens 2020 on November 24, 2020. British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) will be honoured with an educational brochure for secondary education. The Foundation revealed the two laureates’ names during a meeting in the official residence of the mayor of Amsterdam.

Technology is the main theme for the Spinozalens-cycle 2019-2020. The reason why the International Spinozaprijs Foundation chose this theme is that present-day technological developments urge us more and more to address crucial moral and existential questions.  

 

Bruno Latour has been a pioneer thinker in linking technology to social questions. Technology, according to Latour, is not neutral, but always embedded in moral, social and cultural structures. As such, technology plays a fundamental role in society. In Latour’s view, it is not just those who make use of techniques who bear responsibility for their application, but also the inventors and technicians.

In addition, Latour has put sustainability on the agenda since the early 1990s. In his opinion, nature has a voice of its own that should be listened to within our democratic systems. This is an innovative way of thinking that calls for a different relation with all that is non-human.

Latour will receive the Spinozalens on Spinoza’s day of birth, 24 November 2020. The award consists of a Spinoza statue and a cash amount of € 10.000. The award ceremony will probably take place in De Rode Hoed Conference Centre in Amsterdam.

 

Alan Turing, father of our modern-day computer, foresaw almost seventy years ago that this technology would one day jeopardize the concept of human intelligence – a conviction that, according to the jury, highlights Turing’s enormous imaginative powers. Through his famous imitation game, Alan Turing, already in the 1950s, made people think about the question how we can be sure whether we are communicating with a machine or with a human being.

Like Rousseau, Kant and Arendt before him, Alan Turing will be honoured with an educational brochure for secondary and higher education that will introduce his scientific and philosophical legacy to teachers and pupils interested in his work.

 

The jury of the Spinozalens 2019-2020 consisted of the following members: prof.dr.em Herman Wijffels (chairman), prof.dr. Peter Paul Verbeek (University of Twente), prof.dr. Damiaan Denys (University of Amsterdam), prof.dr. Karen Maex (rector magnificus of the University of Amsterdam), dr. Katleen Gabriëls (Assistant Professor at Maastricht University).


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