Is Bruno Latour a useless ponce?

Shamefully, RS doesn't address this vital question. But, contra Betteridge, I think the answer has to be Yes. My text is RS's: The LA review of books The Critical Zone of Science and Politics: An Interview with Bruno Latour Steve Paulson interviews Bruno Latour. We begin with "BRUNO LATOUR HAS NEVER been easy to pin down" which is another way of saying we're not really sure what if any contribution he has made. Let's quote Sokal and Bricmont:

The strong programme in the sociology of science has found an echo in France, particularly around Bruno Latour. His works contain a great number of propositions formulated so ambiguously that they can hardly be taken literally. And when one removes the ambiguity— as we shall do here in a few examples— one reaches the conclusion that the assertion is either true but banal, or else surprising but manifestly false.
Naturally, the fawning interviewer in the LA RoB isn't tactless enough to bring that up, preferring softballs.


Latour starts off with Lovelock, who he claims to have read very carefully. He seems quite unaware that in 2010 Lovelock went Emeritus. But it turns out that Latour's aim is to contribute to a precise definition of Gaia as a political entity which is a stupid idea anyway.

Sociology of science

As the article keeps going back to, Latour is still doing sociology of science, and not saying anything new.

Is that it?

I scrolled down a bit further but failed to find anything interesting.


* Feyerabend.
Werner Krauss is a tosser.
* Leading Science and Technology Experts Named Breakthrough Senior Fellows, 2010.
LaSi vs EcMd: round two.
Laudato Si versus the Ecomodernists.



Watching le chef frog polemique debate Sokal to a draw at the LSE two decades ago, I reckoned him more than a performance artiste , and he has indeed continued to lead the postmodern chorus. But I prefaced the interview William has linked with a three penny opera's worth of snark alarm::

" Critics tried to lump him with postmodern literary relativists — a label he denies, but he wonders

if his earlier efforts to question the authority of scientists led unwittingly to climate change skepticism.
... He has since enlisted on the side of the Paris Convention in the climate wars, as an avatar of the larger intellectual project of the Anthropocene, by embracing Jame’s Lovelock’s Gaia theory...

Latour has never been a man to run away from a good cliché’, and recalling his early academic days spent working on a Catholic theology PhD, he invokes an impending “apocalypse.”

Recently retired as head of the Paris Sciences Po Medialab, he’s considering turning Lovelock’s life a play along the lines of Brecht’s ."


" Brecht's Gallileo "

Sorry- the preview ate my Godwin warning.

William M. Connolley said...

> question the authority of scientists led unwittingly to climate change skepticism

Yeah, I swear I had or read a discussion of that. Possibly at ATTP's, he's always fond of Science Studies :-). But diligent googling of mine failed to turn up much.

Anonymous said...

I've only - I think - written once about Latour. Is it possible that the context was Steve Fuller (who seems proud of his apparent role in promoting post truth), rather than Latour?

William M. Connolley said...

There's definitely https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/10/15/bruno-latour/ (to which my only contribution was to mention Sokal) but I agree I can't see any more.

Steve Bloom said...

IIRC you want the essay in which Latour rejected ecomodernism.