Networks and assemblages: The rebirth of things in Latour and Delanda

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Philosophy Department

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Research Article

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Logos (Russian Federation)

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This article is dedicated to the juxtaposition between the philosophies of Manuel DeLanda and Bruno Latour against the backdrop of realism and the rehabilitation of things. The author begins by introducing both thinkers, and then goes on to present and compare their positions. If realism is not in decline, then it is on the periphery of the philosophical mainstream, and DeLanda is presented here as one of its rare proponents. While Latour is not a realist, he is nonetheless special in light of his attention to objects and their activity. The author himself qualifies his position as "realist formalism." He begins his presentation of DeLanda's philosophy by exposing five basic components of his flat ontology. In addition to realism, these are anti-essentialism; nominalism and historicism of species, and virtualism of genus; theory of catalysis and non-linear causality; and finally, the quadruple world. The last component is made up of two axes, the material-expressive and the territorialization-deterritorialization. After critically considering the realist tradition, DeLanda to replace the opposition "substance-aggregate" with the notion of assemblage. This central concept is defined by a specific theory of relations between part and whole. Latour's ideas are discussed and compared with DeLanda's philosophy along the same points. According to the author, what is missing in Latour's approach is a comprehensive theory of causation. Latour differs from DeLanda in questions concerning realism and virtuality; Latour is a pure actualist. The final part of the article discusses a thought experiment in which the author tries to imagine a possible future, where DeLanda's and Latour's ideas have become mainstream philosophy. This would be a dominance of realist flat ontologies, the Achilles heel of which would be a theory of causation.

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