Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Commentary on Latour

Here's the link to the AIME research group, who is doing summary analyses of Latour's recent book. To date they're up to chapter 10. Here is Latour's website for an ongoing inquiry. At the last link one can participate in the investigation and access the book by joining the site.

I read Conway's analysis of the Intro and chapter 1, along with the voluminous commentary. It is making a point I recently made elsewhere, that this thing called modernity is a western affair. The initial post challenges that it is 'western' in that others from other parts of the world are modern too. But only in so far as they have been educated in western institutions, implying that if left to their own cultural devices they would not be 'modern.' Thus it's a matter of class; the elite class gets a western education and enters modernity.

Conway accepts per Latour that it's possible for "Chinese or Indian scientists and engineers have different concepts of science, objectivity and progress than European ones." But Conway says that Latour doesn't prove it, merely asserts it. Conway seems to be arguing that there is a universalism to modernity, yet per about this appears to come about by the west's influence on other cultures and not vice-versa. Conway does pay lip service to the latter idea in that non-Europeans "have, in one way or another, contributed to those institutions broadly claimed to be ‘European.’" But like his criticism of Latour he doesn't say in what ways they have contributed to the notions of modernity.

I'm left with still wondering about how this thing called modernity might be, per Latour, more a western cultural artifact along with all its inherent assumptions. And if you don't accept them you aren't modern. And even worse, primitive.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.