Politics of nature : how to bring the sciences into democracy / Bruno Latour ; translated by Catherine Porter.

by Latour, Bruno [author.]Looking glass.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. ; Harvard University Press, 2004.Description: x, 307 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.ISBN: 0674013476; 9780674013476.Other title: Original title: Politiques de la nature.Subject(s): Political ecologyLooking glassNote: Includes bibliographical references and index. Language: Translated from the French.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

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.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Translated from the French.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • 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

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Bruno LaTour was born in the French province of Burgundy, where his family has been making wine for many generations. He was educated in Dijon, where he studied philosophy and Biblical exegesis. He then went to Africa, to complete his military service, working for a French organization similar to the American Peace Corps. While in Africa he became interested in the social sciences, particularly anthropology.

LaTour believes that through his interests in philosophy, theology, and anthropology, he is actually pursuing a single goal, to understand the different ways that truth is built. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, LaTour has written about the philosophy and sociology of science in an original, insightful, and sometimes quirky way. Works that have been translated to English include The Pasteurization of France; Laboratory Life; Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society; We Have Never Been Modern; and Aramis, or the Love of Technology.

LaTour is a professor at the Center for the Sociology of Innovation, a division of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines, in Paris.

(Bowker Author Biography)