๐Ÿ“‘ Bruno Latour showed us how to think with the things of the world, respecting their right to exist and act on their own terms

Bookmarked Bruno Latour showed us how to think with the things of the world, respecting their right to exist and act on their own terms (aeon.co)

Latour and his colleagues presented scientific knowledge as a deliberate construction, a product of various social, political and economic interactions that are in constant competition. This pluralist view of knowledge is at the origins of the field of science and technology studies, which critically analyses the sciences while also trying to build bridges with the humanities โ€“ between โ€˜matters of factโ€™ and โ€˜matters of concernโ€™, as Latour put it. Latour was a founder of what would become the fieldโ€™s main approach, actor-network theory. This is not so much a theory as a method. It asks us to follow the nonhuman actors doing things to each other, and to not focus on the artificial oppositions we have built between, for instance, subject and object. That opposition is at the heart of positivist science, which tends to insist that facts are just waiting to be discovered in an objective world and, once discovered, become permanent.

With Bruno Latour’s recent death, Stephen Muecke reflects on life and legacy. One of the interesting points that Muecke unpacks is the question of ‘truth’ in regards to Actor Network Theory:

the truth has to be well constructed, it isnโ€™t โ€˜justโ€™ constructed. Simply claiming objectivity, and in the process bracketing out all subjectivity, is not part of a realistic description of what goes on when science does a good job and establishes a truth. Just as each branch of science rarely solves problems on its own โ€“ physics might need algebra; sociology might need a bit of geography or statistics โ€“ a realistic description must embrace a heterogenous array of actors. This was the basis of Latourโ€™s pluralism.

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