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Philosophy Department


Bruno Latour describes his Politics of Nature as work of political ecology. Its subtitle, "How to Bring the Sciences Into Democracy," suggests a specific and limited topic, albeit an interesting one. Yet what this book really offers is a full system of metaphysics, perhaps the first original system of the new millennium. Latour declares these large ambitions openly. In so doing, he is fully aware of the stones that might be showered upon his parade: he warns us jokingly of "a dreadful specter...the obligation to engage in metaphysics, that is to define in turn how the pluriverse is furnished and with what properties [its members] must be endowed." Here already we see what separates Latour from some of the better-known French thinkers of the preceding generation: Derrida, Foucault, Lacan. Like these other figures, Latour is usually pigeonholed as a "postmodernist"; unlike these others, no legitimate case can be made that Latour deserves this label. Owing much to Whitehead and nothing to Heidegger, Latour belongs to an invisible but effective tradition in contemporary philosophy that might be called "School X," for lack of a better name. School X has nothing to with either the analytic or continental schools, which are often taken to exhaust the field of possible contemporary philosophies. The endless duels and reconciliations of the analytics and the continentals, like those of Pepsi and Coke or Doritos and Tostitos, only distract us from their overarching shared features. Both schools remain too loyal to Kant's Copernican Revolution. Both continue to loiter in that narrow strip of philosophy that deals with the conditions of human access to the world rather than the world itself-for the simply reason that they assume from the start that philosophy has no legitimate right to do otherwise.

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Humanity at the Turning Point: Rethinking Nature, Culture, and Freedom


Servomaa, Sonja






Helsinki, Finland

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Latour, Bruno, Ecology, Nature


Arts and Humanities | Philosophy

Bruno Latour and the Politics of Nature

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