Politics of Nature

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* Book: Politics of Nature. How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. By Bruno Latour. Harvard University Press, 2004

URL = english version

Original French title: Politiques de la Nature, ou comment faire entrer les sciences en democratie. Bruno Latour.


1. From Michel Bauwens reading notebook 2006:

Latour wants to renew political ecology in the light of the 'risk society'; the book argues that political democracy should retake the power of decision, whihc has been taken away by techno-scientific expertise.

According to Latour we have left modernity, and the dictatorship of science. Modernity said: we know, and then acted on that knowledge. Such knowledge precluded political decision. It is this era that is over. Science is now contested, it is again up to politics. We now act with precaution, learning as we do, knowing that we do not have certainty beforehand."

2. From the Wikipedia:

"In the book, Latour argues for a new and better take on political ecology (not the discipline but the ecological political movements, e.g. greens) that embraces his feeling that, "political ecology has nothing to do with nature". In fact, Latour argues that the idea of nature is unfair because it unfairly allows those engaged in political discourse to "short-circuit" discussions. Latour uses Plato's metaphor of "the cave" to describe the current role of nature and science in separating facts from values which is the role of politics and non-scientists. Building on the arguments levelled in his previous works, Latour argues that this distinction between facts and values is rarely useful and in many situations dangerous. He claims that it leads to a system that ignores nature's socially constructed status and creates a political order without "due process of individual will".

Instead, he calls for a "new Constitution" where different individuals can assemble democratically without the definitions of facts and values influenced by current attitudes towards nature and scientific knowledge. Latour describes an alternate set of rules by which this assembly, or collective as he calls it, might come together and be constituted. He also describes the way that entities will be allowed in or out in the future. In describing this collective, Latour draws attention to the role of the spokesperson, who must be doubted but who must speak for otherwise mute things in order to ensure that the collective involves both "humans and non-humans". This is also an important aspect of Actor-network theory (ANT) that can be found in his main sociological works."