Bruno Latour is among the most important figures in contemporary philosophy and social science. His ethnographic studies have revolutionized our understanding of areas as diverse as science, law, politics and religion. To facilitate a more realistic understanding of the world, Latour has introduced a radically fresh philosophical terminology and a new approach to social science, ‘Actor-Network Theory’. In seminal works such as Laboratory Life, We Have Never Been Modern and An Inquiry into Modes of Existence, Latour has outlined an alternative to the foundational categories of ‘modern’ western thought Ð particularly its distinction between society and nature Ð that has major consequences for our understanding of the ecological crisis and of the role of science in democratic societies. Latour’s ‘empirical philosophy’ has evolved considerably over the past four decades. In this lucid and compelling book, Gerard de Vries provides one of the first overviews of Latour’s work. He guides readers through Latour’s main publications, from his early ethnographies to his more recent philosophical works, showing with considerable skill how Latour’s ideas have developed. This book will be of great value to students and scholars attempting to come to terms with the immense challenge posed by Latour’s thought. It will be of interest to those studying philosophy, anthropology, sociology, science and technology studies, and almost all other branches of the social sciences and humanities.
Preface 1 Empirical philosophy 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Making Paris visible 1.3 The path towards 'empirical philosophy' 1.4 The power of addition 2 Science studies 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Sociology of Scientific Knowledge 2.3 An anthropologist visits a laboratory 2.4 Anatomy of a scientific paper 2.5 Realism in and about science 3 Science and society 3.1 Introduction 3.2 The Pasteurization of France: War and Peace of Microbes 3.3 The Pasteurization of France: Irreductions 3.4 Another turn after the social turn 3.5 The turn to ontology 4 Another social science 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Deploying what makes up the social 4.3 Deploying how the social is stabilized 4.4 Shifting focus 5 A philosophy for our time 5.1 Introduction 5.2 We have never been modern 5.3 The modern Constitution 5.4 Relationism 5.5 Cosmopolitics 6 A comparative anthropology of the Moderns 6.1 Introduction 6.2 A research protocol for a comparative anthropology 6.3 'Empirical philosophy' redefined 6.4 Inquiring 'modes of existence' 6.5 The modern experience: fifteen modes 6.6 Facing 'Gaia' 7 Bibliography Index
"For those utterly bewildered yet enthralled or those who would simply like a guide to take them through the maze of Latour's writing, the work of De Vries offers the perfect answer. De Vries' great explanatory style and the clear guiding lines that the books sets out makes this a very valuable resource for anyone who wishes to study Latour without getting lost." Waterstones Amsterdam
Gerard de Vries is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy of Science at the University of Amsterdam.
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