How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy
This is much more than a reworking of politics. It is a sketch of a resolution of the perennial questions of what we know and what exists Latourcan be infuriating. But he is never boring. Politics of Nature must be difficult because it challenges assumptions that are built into our languages, such as the hallowed distinction between facts and values It is worth readingtwice. -- Mike Holderness * New Scientist * Politics of Nature constitutes a major contribution to contemporary thought and discourse I anticipate that it will increase recognition that we can make our institutions and policies more responsive to our concerns by taking a deliberative, critical approach to the metaphysical foundations of our attitudes toward nature, science and politics. -- Yaron Ezrahi * American Scientist * Despite all our concern, our pressure groups, non-governmental organisations and ministers for the environment, [Latour] maintains that political ecology is paralysed by established categories of thought. Only a radical rethink will enable us to grasp the import of ecology and launch a new approach to the maintenance of a tolerable life Through all his work on science, technology and society, Latour has developed a style of writing that is an unusual and often startling combination of remarkably acute observation and analysis of science in action (to quote an earlier title), of metaphorical flights and rhetorical flourishes, of aperus, of exhortations to relinquish familiar concepts, categories and meanings and of what, as a non-philosopher, I take to be breathtaking philosophical presumption [An] often intriguing and occasionally infuriating book. -- Jon Turney * Times Higher Education Supplement * Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy by French author Bruno Latour, brings a fascinating and bold new twist to contemporary discussions about the nature of nature. Latour proposes a radical shift in current conceptions of political ecology, arguing that mainstream environmental movements are doomed to fail so long as they envision political ecology as inextricably tied to the protection and management of nature through political methodologies and policies Latour does not reject the sciences, only hegemonic science. His book is a warning of sorts, that in our rush to separate human from nonhuman, interests from nature, and politics from ecology, we have jeopardized the foundation of democracy: informed public deliberation about the common good. Nature is not to be conquered, controlled, or even protected. Rather, our conceptions of natural fact and reality must be re-examined in order or make room for other members of the political-ecological collective. Scholars in environmental studies will find this book useful While Latours project is far-reaching and admittedly idealistic, it raises interesting questions and seeks to engender public deliberation about ecological issues, including how the environmental movement should proceed in the coming critical decades. Rhetorical scholars interested in linguistic representations of nature, the discursive construction of reality and culture, and the interplay of the technical and public spheres also will find this book useful. It is well-written, extensively researched, positive in tone, and enjoyable to read. -- Matthew G. Gerber * Argumentation and Advocacy * Latours politics is procedural and fluid, not driven by a desire to establish domains. If for no other reason than this, Politics of Nature is important for environmental philosophy. Environmentalism is in crisis partly because of its unexamined attachment to a declensionist narrative about humans and nonhumans. Philosophers too often fall into this trap as well. As we struggle with the question, What is to be done, many of us expand this question to include the phrase in a world at the tipping point of environmental disaster? We could do worse than a
Bruno Latour was Professor Emeritus at Sciences Po Paris. He was the 2021 Kyoto Prize Laureate in Arts and Philosophy and was awarded the 2013 Holberg International Memorial Prize.
Introduction: What Is to Be Done with Political Ecology? 1. Why Political Ecology Has to Let Go of Nature First, Get Out of the Cave Ecological Crisis or Crisis of Objectivity? The End of Nature The Pitfall of "Social Representations" of Nature The Fragile Aid of Comparative Anthropology What Successor for the Bicameral Collective? 2. How to Bring the Collective Together Difficulties in Convoking the Collective First Division: Learning to Be Circumspect with Spokespersons Second Division: Associations of Humans and Nonhumans Third Division between Humans and Nonhumans: Reality and Recalcitrance A More or Less Articulated Collective The Return to Civil Peace 3. A New Separation of Powers Some Disadvantages of the Concepts of Fact and Value The Power to Take into Account and the Power to Put in Order The Collective's Two Powers of Representation Verifying That the Essential Guarantees Have Been Maintained A New Exteriority 4. Skills for the Collective The Third Nature and the Quarrel between the Two "Eco" Sciences Contribution of the Professions to the Procedures of the Houses The Work of the Houses The Common Dwelling, the Oikos 5. Exploring Common Worlds Time's Two Arrows The Learning Curve The Third Power and the Question of the State The Exercise of Diplomacy War and Peace for the Sciences Conclusion: What Is to Be Done? Political Ecology! Summary of the Argument (for Readers in a Hurry...) Glossary Notes Bibliography Index