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A major work by one of the more innovative thinkers of our time, Politics of Nature does nothing less than establish the conceptual context for political ecology—transplanting the terms of ecology into more fertile philosophical soil than its proponents have thus far envisioned. Bruno Latour announces his project dramatically: “Political ecology has nothing whatsoever to d A major work by one of the more innovative thinkers of our time, Politics of Nature does nothing less than establish the conceptual context for political ecology—transplanting the terms of ecology into more fertile philosophical soil than its proponents have thus far envisioned. Bruno Latour announces his project dramatically: “Political ecology has nothing whatsoever to do with nature, this jumble of Greek philosophy, French Cartesianism and American parks.” Nature, he asserts, far from being an obvious domain of reality, is a way of assembling political order without due process. Thus, his book proposes an end to the old dichotomy between nature and society—and the constitution, in its place, of a collective, a community incorporating humans and nonhumans and building on the experiences of the sciences as they are actually practiced. In a critique of the distinction between fact and value, Latour suggests a redescription of the type of political philosophy implicated in such a “commonsense” division—which here reveals itself as distinctly uncommonsensical and in fact fatal to democracy and to a healthy development of the sciences. Moving beyond the modernist institutions of “mononaturalism” and “multiculturalism,” Latour develops the idea of “multinaturalism,” a complex collectivity determined not by outside experts claiming absolute reason but by “diplomats” who are flexible and open to experimentation.


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A major work by one of the more innovative thinkers of our time, Politics of Nature does nothing less than establish the conceptual context for political ecology—transplanting the terms of ecology into more fertile philosophical soil than its proponents have thus far envisioned. Bruno Latour announces his project dramatically: “Political ecology has nothing whatsoever to d A major work by one of the more innovative thinkers of our time, Politics of Nature does nothing less than establish the conceptual context for political ecology—transplanting the terms of ecology into more fertile philosophical soil than its proponents have thus far envisioned. Bruno Latour announces his project dramatically: “Political ecology has nothing whatsoever to do with nature, this jumble of Greek philosophy, French Cartesianism and American parks.” Nature, he asserts, far from being an obvious domain of reality, is a way of assembling political order without due process. Thus, his book proposes an end to the old dichotomy between nature and society—and the constitution, in its place, of a collective, a community incorporating humans and nonhumans and building on the experiences of the sciences as they are actually practiced. In a critique of the distinction between fact and value, Latour suggests a redescription of the type of political philosophy implicated in such a “commonsense” division—which here reveals itself as distinctly uncommonsensical and in fact fatal to democracy and to a healthy development of the sciences. Moving beyond the modernist institutions of “mononaturalism” and “multiculturalism,” Latour develops the idea of “multinaturalism,” a complex collectivity determined not by outside experts claiming absolute reason but by “diplomats” who are flexible and open to experimentation.

30 review for Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    I've been thinking a lot latly about mr. latour and about the probability of me picking up these books are reading them again. This review is not so much for this specific book but for all latour's books and the movement that he represents. I read all these books in a class with a gentleman named bradley lewis who wrote a book on postpsychiatry. And don't get me wrong brad is a fun guy. He has an adorable son and is super smart. But he is also a bit off as far as my intellectual inclinations ar I've been thinking a lot latly about mr. latour and about the probability of me picking up these books are reading them again. This review is not so much for this specific book but for all latour's books and the movement that he represents. I read all these books in a class with a gentleman named bradley lewis who wrote a book on postpsychiatry. And don't get me wrong brad is a fun guy. He has an adorable son and is super smart. But he is also a bit off as far as my intellectual inclinations are to be trusted. At one point in our class he brought in some alternative "medicine" (those are insulting quotation marks if you couldn't tell) practitioners who talked about how cancer was the bodies natural response to stress and should be allowed to take its course. I'm not inherently against alternative options, but this is not medicine and the problem with guys like latour is that they want to claim that this is as reasonable a solution as shooting poison into someone's heart. Yeah I know what chemo is but here's the thing chemo kills cancer, it kills other shit too but it kills cancer there is proof of this. And this is where brad and bruno go along and I walk off by myself, I like proof. I don't blindly believe in science and I hate doctors. I believe that context greatly effects knowledge (such as who paid for a scientific study). I don't believe that this somehow equates all forms of knowledge. once upon a time I was writing my undergrad thesis on "Tolerance and Pluralism in Psychology" this was basically an attack on the current ideology of the field, because somehow that is what I learned in college (and I still have a tendency to do it, perhaps it is why my reviews come out so negative). I was taught you begin by believing what someone says then you tear them apart. There are two ways in which to do that wrong 1. you start criticizing before you understand the fundamental argument that you are criticizing. 2. you believe everything you read and forget to use any of the grey matter in your head to check if it makes any sense. Well in writing this thesis I was in the lets believe Latour and attack science as a basis of knowledge phase (thankfully I got out of this before I finished it). I walked into my advisor's office, he was a sweet man named Bill caspary who wrote a book on Dewey which I believe I still own but never read. I handed him my book list and he responded "take Latour off the list". He isn't the kind of guy that usually made pronouncements, and since I'm a genius he basically never told me anything but how fantastic I was (half of that is true you pick which half). We then proceeded to have a long conversation if latour should be included. Basically are all forms of knowledge equal? Can we know truth? Now Bill is not a crazy scientist and like me he believed in the problems inherent in all studies of science and medicine. He also believed in the importance of the social sciences (he changed from physics to politics after he received his undergraduate degree). Basically the man is not unlike myself. We both left the world of cold numbers for something that seemed to make more of a difference but we both still held some belief in truth. That is only partially true, I am a subjectivist, a post modernist. I don't believe we can ever know truth. but I believe there is an objective world outside my head. Basically I believe the barrier to truth is human perception. But I do believe we can judge relative levels of truth. I devised this from asimov here. Imagine truth is the sky it is always better to get taller even if you can't yet reach the sky you can have a better view. I agree with latour that science doesn't have some fundamental relationship with truth that other fields can't have. But I don't agree that all field actively have the same relationship with truth. In fields like science the truth is a constant constriction on any study being done. I believe that commonly science is more respectful of the subjectivity of truth then other fields. And yes scientists lie but that is a problem with the scientist and they tend to be called on it eventually. When people in cultural or religious studies lie it never seems to have to come to the surface. It is a subjective belief, no one can know who's right... I call bullshit, and I'm willing to beat you over the head with Rorty till you agree with me, because while you can't change hitlers mind you can put him in a tiny room so he can't poison the rest of the world. now we reach the true problem with these types of attacks on science they assume that all fields are trying to reach truth. This just isn't true. and it certainly isn't true of all people. There is a line from bones about respecting doubt. I believe that we need to respect facts and we need to respect doubt. I believe respect for any person should be based on the level with which they respect that doubt. Now it is possible to read guys like latour in that way. Not as against science but as in favor of a new method of judging truth.(I'm about to get mean so if that bothers you stop reading) Guys like pinchbeck who ignore truth and talk about their dead grandmothers ruining their trips should be pushed aside in the attempt to understand the world in favor of others. But this is not the end of a conversation about how to understand truth but the beginning. For the american pragmatists truth was what worked in practice this is very different from the truths of einstein that on a daily basis are useless the the great majority of humanity. We need to decide what truths matter, what truths are worth fighting about? These books could be helpful in this process, but there are certainly many problems of misuse with guys like this. There are people that want to ruin science and books like this become their battering ram. That does not make latour actually wrong but it does make him a problem. on that note I don't recommend this book, unless you actually understand science. People who don't like science because they aren't smart enough to understand it should not be given an excuse to dismiss it. Read the structure of scientific revolutions instead. the point being what is important is spreading carl rogers scientist practioner model to all fields, not demoting all of science.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    UGH, Latour, you madden me with your dark and pregnant pronouncements, your penchant for neologism, your sacrifice of clarity on the alter of cleverness, and your seemingly feigned attempt to make yourself clear with a glossary and summary of the argument that are more puzzling than clarifying. Still, I think that Latour is onto something here, and I think perhaps some of what is most puzzling about the book may be required in Latour's thoroughgoing attempt to reject certain trenchant and pernici UGH, Latour, you madden me with your dark and pregnant pronouncements, your penchant for neologism, your sacrifice of clarity on the alter of cleverness, and your seemingly feigned attempt to make yourself clear with a glossary and summary of the argument that are more puzzling than clarifying. Still, I think that Latour is onto something here, and I think perhaps some of what is most puzzling about the book may be required in Latour's thoroughgoing attempt to reject certain trenchant and pernicious dichotomies (fact/value, subject/object, etc.) while nonetheless doing some constructive work. If I had to struggle with this book on my own, I think I would have hated it. Luckily, I had to struggle with it in a seminar of graduate students who were mostly confused and often hostile to the book. In the attempt to figure out what the hell he was on about so that I could explain it to the students and get a discussion going that made spending two weeks on the book worthwhile, I actually came to like what I was finding. If I had been on my own I probably would have given up or given it a big 1-star. --- Acquired 8/31/09 - desk copy One of the last books for this semesters graduate course. I'm a bit worried about this one...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leonardo Gedraite

    Um livro essencial para repensar a nossa sociedade e sua relação com a natureza. Latour continua a proposta teórica iniciada em seus livros anteriores (Principalmente o "Jamais Fomos Modernos") e agora foca em como construir uma nova sociedade, praticamente um novo contrato natural, superando os limites da modernidade. Ele constrói seu argumento em cima da Ecologia Política, mostrando porquê ela não funciona atualmente e como ela poderia funcionar. A análise de nosso mundo, principalmente dos limi Um livro essencial para repensar a nossa sociedade e sua relação com a natureza. Latour continua a proposta teórica iniciada em seus livros anteriores (Principalmente o "Jamais Fomos Modernos") e agora foca em como construir uma nova sociedade, praticamente um novo contrato natural, superando os limites da modernidade. Ele constrói seu argumento em cima da Ecologia Política, mostrando porquê ela não funciona atualmente e como ela poderia funcionar. A análise de nosso mundo, principalmente dos limites que a modernidade impõem a ecologia política, é maravilhosa. É impossível pensar os conceitos de natureza, sociedade, fatos, sujeitos e de ecologia política da mesma maneira após terminar a leitura desse livro. A proposta teórica dele, para superar o modernismo, também é bem interessante. Um modelo sólido, sustentado em bases sociológicas e filosóficas amplas, que propõe uma cosmopolítica inovadora. A Ecologia Política, agora com uma nova separação dos poderes, mais atores sociais em um mundo comum, coletivo dinâmico e construindo por todos, superando a separação moderna de ciência, política, economia e administração. É uma proposta complexa, um livro que fica ruminando na cabeça por muito tempo. Até o momento que sentei para escrever essa resenha, ainda tentava testar os limites da minha compreensão dessa nova teoria. Minha única certeza: No meu processo de (des)construção como Terrano Descarbonário, esse livro é uma das pedras fundamentais. É um "faitiche": livro elegantíssimo e assaz funcional. Tragam os atores e suas proposições, pois é hora de colocar nosso bicameralismo para funcionar: Que arregacemos as mangas e comecemos a construção de nosso coletivo.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jerrid Kruse

    This book makes some important insights and arguments. The most compelling to me was the re-integration of politicians, scientists, economists, moralists, and administrators. Rather than seeing each of these as having different domains (as Gould would have it), Latour seems to argue for each of these disciplines engaging the same domains, but each brings a different skill set. This creates a need for engagement across domains and negotiation across the disciplines. It is compelling, if only we c This book makes some important insights and arguments. The most compelling to me was the re-integration of politicians, scientists, economists, moralists, and administrators. Rather than seeing each of these as having different domains (as Gould would have it), Latour seems to argue for each of these disciplines engaging the same domains, but each brings a different skill set. This creates a need for engagement across domains and negotiation across the disciplines. It is compelling, if only we could get the disciplinarians to actually listen to one another. While my overall take away is positive with respect to the ideas, the text was extremely complex, probably unnecessarily so. Hence, the relatively low rating.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Legens

    The Good: Latour makes a compelling case to overcome the division between the sphere of politics, dealing with values, and that of nature, dealing with facts, which is fraught with smuggling either way. The Bad: Sometimes it seems like that division is not as strong in current society as Latour would have it - so he is assailing a man at least partially made of straw. A stronger empirical grounding would have helped both his description of what is now and what should be according to him. The Ugly: The Good: Latour makes a compelling case to overcome the division between the sphere of politics, dealing with values, and that of nature, dealing with facts, which is fraught with smuggling either way. The Bad: Sometimes it seems like that division is not as strong in current society as Latour would have it - so he is assailing a man at least partially made of straw. A stronger empirical grounding would have helped both his description of what is now and what should be according to him. The Ugly: The writing is atrocious. Conversational, but highly theoretical with nary an example. Latour will always go for the (presumed) clever over the concise and, sadly, the clear.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Altynay Kambekova

    In the beginning it was a struggle to read the text, as there were references and definitions after every single word almost, and going back and forward to look up for the definitions was really annoying. But then you get the concept in general, and you start truly appreciating his style and philosophy. He raises a lot of groundbreaking and thought-provoking issues.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    eu não terminei esse livro inteiro. não tive tempo para isso. é um livro que precisa de muita reflexão porque ele traz uma forma que vai na direção contrária do que aprendemos na escola. do pensamento ocidental. desafio.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Agnieszka

    3/4

  9. 5 out of 5

    Iany Mcgrawn

    Was very funny, I loved it

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    It's latour, and it's not "we have never been modern" so it's ok but zzzzzzzzzzzzz It's latour, and it's not "we have never been modern" so it's ok but zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  11. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    Dense...and surprisingly, most of it is common sense. He provides a ridiculously abstruse framework to call for a synthesis of disciplines, and offers no prescription in how to fulfill this--just his unhelpful glossary for when he needs to redefine words too integrated into the bicameral political/Science epistemological model that he rallies against.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Albert Faber

    Latour is full of original, provocative and highly interesting ideas, but his dense philosopho proze is so bloody inaccessible that it will be a hard task to actually find and appreciate them. That is a great pity. Latour's opaque style does not do justice to his original thoughts. Latour is full of original, provocative and highly interesting ideas, but his dense philosopho proze is so bloody inaccessible that it will be a hard task to actually find and appreciate them. That is a great pity. Latour's opaque style does not do justice to his original thoughts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    Most accessible of Latour's writing (other than his casestudy chapters from _Pandora's Hope_) that I have read yet...so far... (but I haven't gotten too far...seem to be on pause...) Returned for a bit; back on pause. Definitely NOT one of his more readable writings... Most accessible of Latour's writing (other than his casestudy chapters from _Pandora's Hope_) that I have read yet...so far... (but I haven't gotten too far...seem to be on pause...) Returned for a bit; back on pause. Definitely NOT one of his more readable writings...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anne O'brien

    Very perplexing (unbelievably complicated -Warning!) but fascinating and has stimulated a lot of thinking for me

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Everything.

  16. 5 out of 5

    André Holanda

    Interessante aplicação das propostas de Latour à questão da política global, no sentido da construção de uma Ecologia Política simétrica.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

    some interesting stuff... but i just can't stand Latour's writing.... some interesting stuff... but i just can't stand Latour's writing....

  18. 4 out of 5

    Luke Harris

  19. 5 out of 5

    Todd Marek

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jelmer Witkamp

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jodi Minion

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ebtehal

  23. 4 out of 5

    De Anima

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elisa Cavazza

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joaquín García

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael Díaz Feito

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eric Fleming

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sherrie L.

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