This comment argues that Isabelle Stengers, in her article “Comparison as a Matter of Concern,” is justifiably concerned about the future of science in an imperium of commerce where epistemology has no clout. Agreeing with Stengers that we should focus attention on comparison-as-participant, this comment relates Stengers's argument to Verran's own work in contexts where the epistemic practices of science are challenged—in science lessons in Nigeria (case 1) and in episodes where environmental scientists try to work with Aboriginal Australian landowners (case 2). Drawing inspiration from her African and Aboriginal colleagues, Verran disagrees with Stengers that the only option for science is to make the terms of its defeat explicit. This comment suggests that the sciences might learn from other knowledge traditions in finding the places and the means to develop divergent practices through which resistance is possible. Verran identifies temporal disjunctions as possible sites of innovation, suggesting that contemporary sciences should forego their backward-looking traditional epistemic practices and learn to focus instead on equipping their participant-comparisons for an uncertain future.
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Helen Verran; COMPARISON AS PARTICIPANT. Common Knowledge 1 January 2011; 17 (1): 64–70. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2010-036
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