Philip Conway 3 |Page The
movement establishes how it is that
some beings are more equal than others
. That is, despite no essential differences or similarities existing between beings and no pre-established hierarchies determining their existence, differences, equivalences, asymmetries andhierarchies nevertheless exist. This move explains how order is established and maintained – how truthgets made; it is primarily empirical.
, since the late 1980s at least, has been fairly consistent and can besummarised thus:
– that is, to relate and be related.
The word ‘translation’ is a neutral term for describing all relations (with the verb ‘to translate’applicable to all attempts to create new relations).
There is no pre-established, categorical (absolute or necessary) difference between human and non-human agents, or between any other kinds of agents.
Therefore, the divisions between nature and society, humans and non-humans, micro and macroscale, etc. are fabrications – constructions.
All things are both constructed
real but not all things are equally
Realism and constructivism, usually opposed, are fused.
Latour has worked primarily on the
of science and technology but has also studiedpolitics, law, morality and more. Accumulating these modalities is the core of his “project of systematically comparing the felicity and infelicity conditions of the different regimes of truthproduction”;
his attempt “to account for the various ways in which truth is built”.
Given that overview, the remaining remarks about ANT should be summarised
fortunately Srnicek has done a good job of that already; as I see it, he makes a number of points about ANT in thefirst part of his essay, several of which are relevant here:(1)
ANT is a way of studying associations/translations between heterogeneous
A society (L.
companion or follower) is not an ontologically distinct realm, an abstract objector a kind of ‘stuff,’ it is a collection of associations.(3)
-logy therefore studies associations (relations) between agents of all kinds.(4)
Both human and non-human beings are associative agents and
There is no fundamental distinction between nature and society.(6)
Action (any action) makes an actor (any form of resistance is an action).(7)
All networks are local at all points (therefore the global is local) – global actors are nothingmore than longer chains of local actors
scientists over non-scientists or moderns over non-moderns (or whites over non-whites, etc.). Instead, Euro-Americantechno-scientific successes are to be explained in their historical particularities. The reasons for the scientific ‘revolution’from this perspective range from the development of the printing press to the development of single point perspective inseventeenth century Dutch art (Alpers 1983; Latour 1986; Latour 1987, chapter 6).
The two movements follow logically not chronologically and are, for the most part, concurrent but they are neverthelessdistinguishable.
His is therefore a relational ontology in the vein of A.N. Whitehead and Gilles Deleuze. On the priority of ‘having’ over‘being’ see: (Latour 2002)
Latour’s ontology is realist, because agency in all interactions is granted to non-humans as well as ‘cognising subjects,’ butit is also constructivist, because there is no ‘ready made’ reality ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered (by those same, pesky ‘cognising subjects’); instead, reality is made up of the interactions of all actants altogether (objects, therefore, have historiestoo). Latour notes the fusion of realism and constructivism in the work of Isabelle Stengers but it is equally true of his own(Latour 1997).
(Latour 2010b, p.x)
(Crawford and Latour 1993, p.250) It should be mentioned that ‘truth’ does apply to ‘regimes of enunciation’ in a socio-linguistic sense but, no less, truth also implies ‘order’ in general, which is not solely a linguistic category, not even,necessarily, a human one.
i.e. material/ideal, local/global, human/non-human