Bruno Latour in Pieces: An Intellectual Biography

Bruno Latour in Pieces: An Intellectual Biography

Bruno Latour in Pieces: An Intellectual Biography

Bruno Latour in Pieces: An Intellectual Biography

Synopsis

Bruno Latour stirs things up. Latour began as a lover of science and technology, co-founder of actor-network theory, and philosopher of a modernity that had "never been modern." In the meantime he is regarded not just as one of the most intelligent and also popular exponents of science studies but also as a major innovator of the social sciences, an exemplary wanderer who walks the line between the sciences and the humanities.

This book provides the first comprehensive overview of the Latourian oeuvre, from his early anthropological studies in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), to influential books like Laboratory Life and Science in Action, and his most recent reflections on an empirical metaphysics of "modes of existence." In the course of this enquiry it becomes clear that the basic problem to which Latour's work responds is that of social tradition, the transmission of experience and knowledge. What this empirical philosopher constantly grapples with is the complex relationship of knowledge, time, and culture.

Excerpt

… one never follows in order to reproduce.

Bruno Latour has many faces. He is known to many as an ethnographer of the world of everyday technology who in meticulous studies has shown how seemingly trivial things, like a key or a safety belt, actively intervene in our behavior. Others know Latour as an essayist very well versed in theory who charged the Philosophers of postmodernity—principally Lyotard and Baudrillard but also Barthes, Lacan, and Derrida—that their thinking merely revolves around artificial sign-worlds and who confronted them with the provocative assertion that “we have never been modern.”

In addition, Latour is an enormously productive social scientist, who with empirical studies such as Laboratory Life and Aramis has largely contributed to defining the field of research known internationally as science and technology studies (STS). In this role, Latour is also known—despite having critiqued postmodernism himself—as an instigator of the so-called science wars, which raged especially in the United States and France over . . .

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