We have never been modern / Bruno Latour ; translated by Catherine Porter.

by Latour, BrunoLooking glass.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1993.Description: ix, 157 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.ISBN: 0674948394; 0674948386; 9780674948396.Subject(s): Science -- Social aspectsLooking glass | Technology -- Social aspectsLooking glass | Science -- PhilosophyLooking glass | Science -- HistoryLooking glassNote: Translation of: Nous n'avons jamais été modernes.Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 146-153) and index.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

With the rise of science, we moderns believe, the world changed irrevocably, separating us forever from our primitive, premodern ancestors. But if we were to let go of this fond conviction, Bruno Latour asks, what would the world look like? His book, an anthropology of science, shows us how much of modernity is actually a matter of faith.

What does it mean to be modern? What difference does the scientific method make? The difference, Latour explains, is in our careful distinctions between nature and society, between human and thing, distinctions that our benighted ancestors, in their world of alchemy, astrology, and phrenology, never made. But alongside this purifying practice that defines modernity, there exists another seemingly contrary one: the construction of systems that mix politics, science, technology, and nature. The ozone debate is such a hybrid, in Latour's analysis, as are global warming, deforestation, even the idea of black holes. As these hybrids proliferate, the prospect of keeping nature and culture in their separate mental chambers becomes overwhelming--and rather than try, Latour suggests, we should rethink our distinctions, rethink the definition and constitution of modernity itself. His book offers a new explanation of science that finally recognizes the connections between nature and culture--and so, between our culture and others, past and present.

Nothing short of a reworking of our mental landscape, We Have Never Been Modern blurs the boundaries among science, the humanities, and the social sciences to enhance understanding on all sides. A summation of the work of one of the most influential and provocative interpreters of science, it aims at saving what is good and valuable in modernity and replacing the rest with a broader, fairer, and finer sense of possibility.

Translation of: Nous n'avons jamais été modernes.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 146-153) and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgements
  • 1 Crisis
  • 1.1 The Proliferation of Hybrids
  • 1.2 Retying the Gordian Knot
  • 1.3 The Crisis of the Critical Stance
  • 1.4 1989: The Year of Miracles
  • 1.5 What Does It Mean To Be A Modern?
  • 2 Constitution
  • 2.1 The Modern Constitution
  • 2.2 Boyle and His Objects
  • 2.3 Hobbes and His Subjects
  • 2.4 The Mediation of the Laboratory
  • 2.5 The Testimony of Nonhumans
  • 2.6 The Double Artifact of the Laboratory and the Leviathan
  • 2.7 Scientific Representation and Political Representation
  • 2.8 The Constitutional Guarantees of the Modern
  • 2.9 The Fourth Guarantee: The Crossed-out God
  • 2.10 The Power of the Modern Critique
  • 2.11 The Invincibility of the Moderns
  • 2.12 What the Constitution Clarifies and What It Obscures
  • 2.13 The End of Denunciation
  • 2.14 We Have Never Been Modern
  • 3 Revolution
  • 3.1 The Moderns, Victims of Their Own Success
  • 3.2 What Is a Quasi-Object?
  • 3.3 Philosophies Stretched Over the Yawning Gap
  • 3.4 The End of Ends
  • 3.5 Semiotic Turns
  • 3.6 Who Has Forgotten Being?
  • 3.7 The Beginning of the Past
  • 3.8 The Revolutionary Miracle
  • 3.9 The End of the Passing Past
  • 3.10 Triage and Multiple Times
  • 3.11 A Copernican Counter-revolution
  • 3.12 From Intermediaries to Mediators
  • 3.13 Accusation, Causation
  • 3.14 Variable Ontologies
  • 3.15 Connecting the Four Modern Repertoires
  • 4 Relativism
  • 4.1 How to End the Asymmetry
  • 4.2 The Principle of Symmetry Generalized
  • 4.3 The Import-Export System of the Two Great Divides
  • 4.4 Anthropology Comes Home from the Tropics
  • 4.5 There Are No Cultures
  • 4.6 Sizeable Differences
  • 4.7 Archimedes' coup d'eacute;tat
  • 4.8 Absolute Relativisim and Relativist Relativism
  • 4.9 Small Mistakes Concerning the Disenchantment of the World
  • 4.10 Even a Longer Network Remains Local at All Points
  • 4.11 The Leviathan is a Skein of Networks
  • 4.12 A Perverse Taste for the Margins
  • 4.13 Avoid Adding New Crimes to Old
  • 4.14 Transcendences Abound
  • 5 Redistribution
  • 5.1 The Impossible Modernization
  • 5.2 Final Examinations
  • 5.3 Humanism Redistributed
  • 5.4 The Nonmodern Constitution
  • 5.5 The Parliament of Things
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

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, a major member of the relatively new academic discipline called "science studies," stakes out his territory: modernity is, on the one hand, characterized by a careful delineation of what is human and what is nonhuman, and, on the other hand (in a somewhat contradictory manner), it is increasingly characterized by crossovers or networks of interrelationships between the human and the nonhuman, bringing into being, thereby, "quasi-objects." The problem is that the importance of these quasi-objects or networks (e.g., the debate centering on the ozone layer) is not widely acknowledged, although these objects continue to function unnoticed and are now beginning to threaten our existence, much like the "return of the repressed" in psychological theory. 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. Although the book can be rather difficult going at times, it is well worth the effort. Advanced undergraduate through professional. C. Koch; Oberlin College

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)

Other editions of this work

No cover image available We have never been modern / by Latour, Bruno ©1993
No cover image available We have never been modern / by Latour, Bruno ©1993

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