Alice van Helden

Alice van Helden


Apr 28, 1994



Affiliated institution

University of Namur

Research & Interests

Research :
Philosophy of contemporary physics
Other Interests :
Philosophy of consciousness
Scientific skepticism
Fiction writing


For me the three directive principles of BRCP are as much a theoretical as a personnal necessity. I've arrived at these same conclusions quite early listening to my parents' discussions at meal time. My father the bio-informatician blamed productivity and oriented funding for the mediocrity of publications in biology, and my mother the philosopher cruelly lacked a community of research. At least they could talk to each other to avoid being enclosed in their own field, so they were lucky. Then I thought that being aware of all that I was prepared for the hostile environment of research. But it's yet a different experience to live the disappointment first-hand.

Theoretically, I know that pragmatism and utilitarism in research come from the capitalist environment in society. Personnally, I felt like my individuality is being ignored and my feelings repressed as non valid.
Theoretically, I know that the surplus of administration and the constant asking for justification from the funding organisms are made to reduce budgets by discouraging the start of new projects and slow down their rhythm of generation. Personnally, it makes me feel stressed out, bored when I spend time to it and hypocrit when I write about my work.
Theoretically, I know that hyper-specialization orients the way physics is taught towards blind calculation and away from ontology. Personnally I felt that my lack of motivation for this questioned my own intelligence.
Theoretically, I know that this same specialization in our society artificially opposes "artistic people" and "scientific people". Personnally I felt that I was less a scientist because of my artistic activities.
Theoretically, I know that competition prevents the emergence of affinitary communities of research. Personnally, I just felt lonely all the time.

For a long time I thought that I would change this world from the inside, never making compromises in publication and being a good human teacher for the students. Then I started a depression and I realized that I didn't have the strength to be fighting alone all my life. So before attending the Sejny Summer Institute, I had decided to stop research after the end of my PhD (if I managed to finish it), thinking that this boat was sinking and that maybe in a 100 years it would be rebuilt again without me. But I think that the decision of attending the summer school (for which I seriously hesitated due to my fragile state of mind) was the best of these last few years and I feel a renewing of motivation and hope about the future of research.
I really need to be a part of BRCP. I don't know if I have enough to offer but I at least have plenty of motivation.