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We Have Never Been Modern Paperback – Nov 14 1993
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If you like the kind of antidualist philosophizing that keeps trying to break down the distinctions between subject and object, mind and body, language and fact, and so on, you'll love Latour… He does the best job so far of breaking down the distinctions between making and finding, between nature and history, and between the 'premodern,' 'the modern' and 'the postmodern.' (Richard Rorty Common Knowledge)
[Latour] stakes out an original and important position in current debates about modernity, antimodernity, postmodernity, and so on. These debates can only be enriched by Latour's attention to the practical coupling of the human and the nonhuman, and they can only be enlivened by the thumbnail critiques offered along the way of thinkers as diverse as Kant, Hegel, Bachelard, Habermas, Baudrillard, Lyotard, and Heidegger. (Andrew Pickering Modernism)
An interesting and deeply thought-out presentation of the large scale problems of our world seen in relation to the idea of 'modernism.' The book focuses on the interrelationships between three large-scale domains: science and technology, politics and government, language and semiotic studies… Latour examines the premodernists, postmodernists, antimodernists, and so-called modernists and concludes that we really never were modern and now need to pursue a form of modernism (which he describes) purged of its counterproductive features. (Choice)
The present book is essentially a work of metaphysics, a kind of political ontology. Latour's goal is to break down traditional philosophical categories of nature, power and language… Latour's insights are abundant, from his advocacy of multinaturalism (versus multiculturalism) to his call for social theorists to recognize the historicity of objects… This is a wonderful book to disagree with—a refreshing break from the straight-jacketed sycophancy that defines so much of the history and philosophy of science. It is not an easy book, but the reward for the philosophically minded is well worth the wrestle. (Robert N. Proctor American Scientist)
About the Author
Bruno Latour is Professor at Sciences Po, Paris and the 2013 winner of the Ludvig Holberg International Memorial Prize.
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Latour, for those of you who don't know him, has been at the forefront of the emerging field of "science studies", the history and sociology of science, for the past 15 years. He's also a rather bizarre fellow. His "Aramis" is a book of real sociology that is told in the form of a novel, in which the metro car of a failed Parisian public transportation project becomes one of a series of narrators. In "We Have Never Been Modern," he conscisely summarizes the theoretical basis of his work, and stakes out ground that is genuinely new. The book should excite humanisitic academics, scientists, and intellectually adventurous people from all walks of life with a taste for theory.
The thesis -- the basis for the "we have never been modern" part -- is that the "great divide" between nature and human, subject and object, science and society, was never real. Instead, he says, this subject/object divide was the great dirty fiction of the "modern" world.
To give you the gist of the argument as briefly as possible: the separation of nature and human, that has marked Western intellectual life since the 17th century, allowed both science and the humanities to make their own claims for absolute truth. This divide was the basis for our image of "modern western man."
But these claims hid the fact that "hybrids" were springing up all the while.Read more ›
i can see where latour would make people nervous if they were fully invested in a point of view not fully understood. but, until the government takes down the bill of rights, diversity in thinking is still allowed and maybe even encouraged.
enjoy this book. it is fun.
Most recent customer reviews
As a professional research scientist who has read extensively on broader issues concerning science and society, and who has developed courses in this area for graduate science... Read morePublished on July 4 2006 by Richard Cassidy
I'd like to think I'm not a dummy, but this was hard to read. It looks to me like the book was translated to English by someone who might know more about Anthropology than written... Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2000 by kent dahlgren
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