By Marylene Delbourg-Delphis @mddelphis
We just celebrated thirty years of lectures in Stanford by French Academician Michel Serres (left with Robert Harrison on his right). The party was organized by Audrey Calefas-Strebelle at the residence of Brigitte et Jean-Louis Gassée in Palo Alto, and included very closed friends of Michel, celebrated philosopher (and also from the French Academy), René Girard and his wife, Martha Girard.
A major European philosopher, Michel Serres is also a mathematician and is famous for his courses on the history of thermodynamics, as well as a number of other sciences. A real “Troubadour of Knowledge” (to use the American title of his 1991 book called Le Tiers-Instruit in French) is a staunch proponent of inter- or cross-disciplinarity in education, because the fusion of traditionally separate domains often fuels innovation (think of the very concept of biomedical engineering, for example). An encyclopedic mind, who can tell you better than just about anybody else in the world why music is at the origin of sciences in his lecture about the education of Orpheus, Michel lives in sync with today’s realities and trends. He is able to comment on small events with humor as well as discuss the value of alternative currencies within local communities.
I can only advise that you read more about Michel Serres. There are dozens of great resources on the Web, in French of course, but also in English. I am lucky to have been one of his students at L’Ecole normale supérieure. He is an amazing mentor who cared for his students — and one who actually believes in what he advocates. In the mid-eighties, at a time when it was downright odd for a woman in Academia (in France for sure, but also in the US) to start a high-tech company, he was one of the rare persons who thought that it made sense. But then again, few people have the wisdom and instinct that comes from understanding so many facets of knowledge. If you understand French, listen to this very interesting conference he gave in 2007 for the 40th anniversary of the INRIA: “Les nouvelles technologies nous ont condamnés à devenir intelligents!” (“New technologies have compelled us to become intelligent”).
Here are additional pictures of this great evening: Nilou Farzaneh, Bernard Gallet, Martha Girard, Jean-Louis Gassée, Audrey Calefas-Strebelle, Brigitte Gassée, Geraldine Gallet, Guillaume Lebleu with René Girard, Samia Kassab with René Girard.
Many of the above + Romain Serman and his wife Laura.