We Have Never Been Modern

We Have Never Been Modern

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We Have Never Been Modern

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674948396
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 07/04/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 168
Sales rank: 333,270
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents



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?


2.1 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


3.1 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


4.1 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'état

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


5.1 The Impossible Modernization

5.2 Final Examinations

5.3 Humanism Redistributed

5.4 The Nonmodern Constitution

5.5 The Parliament of Things



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