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"Belief is a caricature of religion exactly as knowledge is a caricature of science."

— Bruno Latour, “Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame” or How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate

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"There is nothing extravagant, spiritual, or mysterious in beginning to describe religious talk in this way. We are used to other, perfectly mundane forms of speech that are evaluated not by their correspondence with any state of affairs either, but by the quality of the interaction they generate from the way they are uttered. This experience—and experience is what we wish to share—is common in the domain of “love-talk” and, more largely, personal relations. “Do you love me?” is not assessed by the originality of the sentence—none are more banal, trivial, boring, rehashed—but rather by the transformation it manifests in the listener, as well as in the speaker. Information talk is one thing, transformation talk is another. When the latter is uttered, something happens. A slight displacement in the normal pace of things. A tiny shift in the passage of time. You have to decide, to get involved: maybe to commit yourselves irreversibly. We are not only undergoing an experience among others, but a change in the pulse and tempo of experience: kairos is the word the Greeks would have used to designate this new sense of urgency."

— Bruno Latour, “Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame” or How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate

(Source: bruno-latour.fr)

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"There exists no society to begin with, no reservoir of ties, no big reassuring pot of glue to keep all those groups together. If you don’t have the festival now or print the newspaper today, you simply lose the grouping, which is not a building in need of restoration but a movement in need of continuation. If a dancer stops dancing, the dance is finished."

— Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social, p37

Tags: latour society
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"It is because of this “dialectic” between fact and artifact that, although no philosopher would seriously defend a correspondence theory of truth, it is nevertheless absolutely impossible to be convinced by a purely constructivist account for more than three minutes. Well, let’s say an hour, to be fair. Most philosophy of science since Hume and Kant consists in taking on, evading, hedging, coming back to, recanting, solving, refuting, packing, unpacking this impossible antinomy: that on the one hand facts are experimentally made up and never escape from their manmade settings, and on the other hand it is essential that facts are not made up and that something emerges that is not manmade. Bears in cages pace back and forth within their narrow prisons with less obstinacy and less distress than philosophers and sociologists of science going incessantly from fact to artifact and back."

— Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope p125

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"Is it possible, with the help of my schema, to understand, visualize, and detect why the original model of philosophers of language is so widespread, when this slightest inquiry reveals its impossibility? … Let us block the extremities of the chain as if one were the referent, the forest of Boa Vista, and the other were the phrase, “the forest of Boa Vista.” Let us erase all the mediations that I have delighted in describing. In place of the forgotten mediations, let us create a radical gap, one capable of covering the huge abyss that separates the statement I utter in Paris and its referent six thousand kilometers away. Et voilà, we have returned to the former model, searching for something to fill the void we have created, looking for some adequatio, some resemblence between two ontological varieties that we have made as dissimilar as possible. It is hardly surprising that philosophers have been unable to reach an understanding on the question of realism and relativism: they have taken the two provisional extremities for the entire chain, as if they had tried to understand how a lamp and a switch could “correspond” to each other after cutting the wire and making the lamp “gaze out” at the “external” switch."

— Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope pp72-3

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"We always forget that the word “reference” comes from the Latin refere, “to bring back.” Is the referent what I point to with my finger outside discourse, or is it what I bring back inside discourse?"

— Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope p32

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"The illusion of modernity was to believe that the more we grew, the more separate objectivity and subjectivity would become, thus creating a future radically different from our past… At the very least, I hope to have convinced the reader that, if we are to meet our challenge, we will not meet it be considering artefacts as things. They deserve better. They deserve to be housed in our intellectual culture as full-fledged social actors. Do they mediate our action? No, they are us."

— Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope p214

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"Philosophers and sociologists of techniques tend to imagine that there is no difficulty in defining material entities because they are objective, unproblematically composed of forces, elements, atoms. Only the social, the human realm if difficult to interpret, we often think, because it is complexly historical and, as they say, “symbolic.” But whenever we talk of matter we are really considering, as I am trying to show here, a package of former crossovers between social and natural elements, so what we take to be primitive and pure terms are belated and mixed ones… Matter is not a given but a recent historical creation."

— Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope p205

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"We, the readers, do not live inside space, that has billions of galaxies in it; on the contrary, this space in generated inside the observatory by having, for example, a computer count little dots on a photographic plate… You are ashamed of not grasping what it is to speak in millions of light years? Don’t be ashamed because the firm grasp the astronomer has over it comes from a very small ruler he firmly applies to a map of the sky like you do to your road map when you go out for a camping trip. Astronomy is the local knowledge produced inside these centres that gather photographs, spectra, radio signals, infrared pictures, everything that makes a trace that other people can easily dominate."

— Bruno Latour, Science in Action, pp228-9

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"How could we be capable of disenchanting the world, when every day our laboratories and our factories populate the world with hundreds of hybrids stranger than those of the day before? … How could we be victims of reductionism, when each scientist multiplies new entities by the thousands in order to be reductionist for a few of them?"

— Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern

Tags: latour science
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"There is no natural situation on earth in which someone could ask this strangest of all questions: “Do you believe in reality?” To ask such a question one has to become so *distant* from reality that the fear of *losing* it entirely becomes plausible—and this fear itself has an intellectual history."

— Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope

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"Positivism—in its natural or social form, in its reactionary or progressive form—is not wrong because it forgets ‘human consciousness’ and decides to stick with ‘cold data’. It is wrong politically. It has reduced matters of concern into matters of fact too fast, without due process."

— Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social, p256

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"The critics have developed three distinct approaches to talking about our world: naturalization, socialization and deconstruction. Let us use E.O. Wilson, Pierre Bourdieu, and Jacques Derrida — a bit unfairly — as emblematic of these three tacks. When the first speaks of naturalized phenomena, then societies, subjects, and all forms of discourse vanish. When the second speaks of fields of power, then science, technology, texts, and the contents of activities disappear. When the third speaks of truth effects, then to believe in the real existence of brain neurons or power plays would betray enormous naivete. Each of these forms of criticism is powerful in itself but impossible to combine with the other two."

— Bruno Latour, “We Have Never Been Modern” pp6-7