Bruno Latour is a french academic who worked in what he (and others since him) have called Science Studies. Latour is a sort of sociologist of science, which means that he is interested in understanding the ways that Science and Scientific understanding are Socially constructed.
Latour's is a particularly compelling perspective for us in the TOK, since he disputes the naive idea that Science = Facts or that Scientific thinking is necessarily more attuned to "Truth" or "The way things really are." He is interested in uncovering assumptions in scientific thinking, and looking at how Science operates to organize our ways of thinking about the world. He takes for granted that Westereners (in particular, Western intellectuals and academics and, to a lesser extent, policy makers) tend to organize their world under the assumption that Science = rationalism = better.
In "Mixing Humans and Nonhumans: The Sociology of a Door Closer", Latour has fun deconstructing the (as it turns out, somewhat arbitrary) division between what we think of as human and nonhuman
As you read Latour's Essay
- Consider the ways that Latour links human action to nonhuman things (in particular, to technologies, which he calls techniques)
- Consider the ways that he creates continuities of action and agency where we might assume divisions/binaries exist. This continuity is central to Latour's broader "Actor-Network Theory" which has influenced contemporary theories of Economics, Ecology, Sociology and Psychology)
- Keep track of Latour's "Vocabulary", which he sets out carefully in order to "create a common language".
- Write down the words he uses, and a working definition/meaning
- many of these words appear in italics, though not all do.
- One early example is "delegation"
While you are reading, I will be conferencing with you.