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Where do we touch down?

Jeremy Harding: Bruno Latour’s Habitat, 15 December 2022

On the Emergence of an Ecological Class: A Memo 
by Bruno Latour and Nikolaj Schultz, translated by Julie Rose.
Polity, 80 pp., £9.99, November 2022, 978 1 5095 5506 2
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After Lockdown: A Metamorphosis 
by Bruno Latour, translated by Julie Rose.
Polity, 180 pp., £14.99, September 2021, 978 1 5095 5002 9
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... Bruno Latour​ died in October, aged 75, without a proper species classification. L’Obs described him as a sociologist; Le Monde praised his distinguished career in sociology, anthropology and philosophy. To some, political theory was another of his accomplishments, though he wasn’t so sure. He called what he did ‘anthropology of science’ and sometimes ‘science studies ...

Dolls, Demons and DNA

Barbara Herrnstein Smith: Bruno Latour, 8 March 2012

On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods 
by Bruno Latour.
Duke, 157 pp., £12.99, March 2011, 978 0 8223 4825 2
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... answer is possible, even preferable, owes much to the work of French sociologist-philosopher Bruno Latour. Latour came into view in the 1980s as an uncommonly engaging as well as radical practitioner of the new discipline of science studies. The accounts of scientific facts and technological artefacts set out in ...

Le pauvre Sokal

John Sturrock: The Social Text Hoax, 16 July 1998

Intellectual Impostures 
by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont.
Profile, 274 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 1 86197 074 9
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... The thinkers pressed shoulder to shoulder in the dock here – Lacan, Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Bruno Latour, Baudrillard, Paul Virilio, Deleuze/Guattari and one or two lesser figures – turn out not to know their mathematical arse from their physical elbow when they choose to steal food from Sokal and Bricmont’s professional larder, and start ...

Into the Mental Basement

Thomas Nagel: Science and Religion, 19 August 2010

Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion 
by Barbara Herrnstein Smith.
Yale, 201 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 300 14034 7
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... a large literature; in addition to Smith, its defenders include Paul Feyerabend, Richard Rorty and Bruno Latour; trenchant critics include John Searle and Paul Boghossian. A basic philosophical question is whether it can be intelligibly applied ‘all the way down’. When the constructivist account refers to effective interaction with the ...

Martial Art

Bruce Robbins: Pierre Bourdieu, 20 April 2006

Science of Science and Reflexivity 
by Pierre Bourdieu, translated by Richard Nice.
Polity, 168 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 9780745630601
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... goods’, it’s hard to see how his own view differs. How can he be so scornful, for example, of Bruno Latour? In Les Microbes: Guerre et paix (1984, translated into English as The Pasteurisation of France), Latour uses the confusion of a Russian defeat of Napoleon’s army, as described by Tolstoy, as an analogy for ...

Kinda Wispy

Ben Walker: ‘Venomous Lumpsucker’, 2 February 2023

Venomous Lumpsucker 
by Ned Beauman.
Sceptre, 304 pp., £20, July 2022, 978 1 4736 1355 3
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... clever execs in the emergent ‘extinction industry’. In passages that recall Donna Haraway or Bruno Latour, Beauman explains that defining extinction has become difficult: ‘A species was not just a set of bodies. It was a set of habits, relationships, territories, entanglements.’ More consequentially, Mosvatia Bioinformatics are storing ...

What’s the hook?

Helen Thaventhiran, 27 January 2022

Hooked: Art and Attachment 
by Rita Felski.
Chicago, 199 pp., £18, October 2020, 978 0 226 72963 3
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... of a landscape that has been sketched by Michael Polanyi, Paul Ricoeur, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Bruno Latour, Stephen Best, Toril Moi, Hal Foster, Namwali Serpell and others. Her current work is perhaps the liveliest and least plangent forum for questions about how to read and write criticism after theory. But read in isolation from this larger and ...

Leave, and Leave Again

William Davies: The Brexit Mentality, 7 February 2019

... a positive or viable programme in order to flourish. In his recent, wise book Down to Earth, Bruno Latour spots a pattern in this instinct to leave that is far from unique to Britain.* Underlying it, he thinks, is a fantasy of escape, ultimately from a shared planet that is becoming less habitable. ‘We can understand nothing about the politics of ...

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies, 2 April 2020

... is what emerges after everyone is left to go about their own private business. Thinkers such as Bruno Latour and Gladwell agreed with Thatcher up to a point: there is no such thing as society – there are nodes and there are links.The injunction emerging from this worldview is that we should recognise the disproportionate potential of the small and ...
The Politics of Large Numbers: A History of Statistical Reasoning 
by Alain Desrosières, translated by Camille Naish.
Harvard, 368 pp., £27.95, October 1998, 0 674 68932 1
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... of all disciplines. He draws liberally on the dernier cri sociology of science (in the mode of Bruno Latour and Michel Callon), on medieval philosophy (he is especially enamoured of the 14th-century debates between realists and nominalists), and on standard political histories of Britain, France, Germany and the US in order to retell the convoluted ...

Modernity’s Bodyguard

Phil Withington: Hobbes, 3 January 2013

by Thomas Hobbes, edited by Noel Malcolm.
Oxford, 1832 pp., £195, May 2012, 978 0 19 960262 9
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... absolutist conception of epistemological order). Indeed Hobbes is so central to these stories that Bruno Latour has called him the prime source of our discombobulated modern condition. But as with his appreciation of power, what is most surprising about Hobbes’s modernity is that it haunts our understanding not only of elite politics and science but of ...


Arthur Goldhammer, 5 October 1995

The Private Science of Louis Pasteur 
by Gerald Geison.
Princeton, 378 pp., £24.95, June 1995, 0 691 03442 7
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Louis Pasteur 
by Patrice Debré.
Flammarion, 559 pp., frs 145, January 1995, 2 08 066646 0
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by Pierre Darmon.
Fayard, 430 pp., frs 150, February 1995, 9782213594040
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... public performances invite a close examination of the private dress rehearsals’. Indeed, Bruno Latour, in his much-controverted Pasteurisation of France, went so far as to say that ‘Pasteur’s genius was in what might be called the theatre of proof.’ Geison, though less inclined to iconoclasm than ...

What do clocks have to do with it?

John Banville: Einstein and Bergson, 14 July 2016

The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time 
by Jimena Canales.
Princeton, 429 pp., £24.95, May 2015, 978 0 691 16534 9
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... the significance of measurable facts. Canales quotes the contemporary French philosopher Bruno Latour: ‘We recognise here the classical way for scientists to deal with philosophy, politics, and art: “What you say might be nice and interesting but it has no cosmological relevance because it only deals with the subjective elements, the lived ...

Reconstituted Chicken

Philip Kitcher, 2 October 1997

This is Biology 
by Ernst Mayr.
Harvard, 340 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 9780674884687
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... villains seen as promulgating these doctrines are scholars like Harry Collins, Sandra Harding, Bruno Latour, Simon Schaffer and Steven Shapin. Now whether these alleged enemies have anything in common, and whether there is a genuine package of claims about science that count as constructivism or relativism or Post-Modernism are serious questions that ...

Pure Mediterranean

Malcolm Bull: Picasso and Nietzsche, 20 February 2014

Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica 
by T.J. Clark.
Princeton, 352 pp., £29.95, May 2013, 978 0 691 15741 2
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... the terrors of modernism and fascism were sometimes difficult to keep apart. In an interview with Bruno Latour, Michel Serres talks about his boyhood in France in the 1930s: ‘The return to savagery – to the Minotaur, for Max Ernst, to Picasso’s paganism – I still see these today as the atrocious forces unleashed on society during that era … my ...

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