Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies

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Harvard University Press, 1999 - Science - 324 pages
5 Reviews

A scientist friend asked Bruno Latour point-blank: "Do you believe in reality?" Taken aback by this strange query, Latour offers his meticulous response in Pandora's Hope. It is a remarkable argument for understanding the reality of science in practical terms.

In this book Latour, identified by Richard Rorty as the new "bÍte noire of the science worshipers," gives us his most philosophically informed book since Science in Action. Through case studies of scientists in the Amazon analyzing soil and in Pasteur's lab studying the fermentation of lactic acid, he shows us the myriad steps by which events in the material world are transformed into items of scientific knowledge. Through many examples in the world of technology, we see how the material and human worlds come together and are reciprocally transformed in this process.

Why, Latour asks, did the idea of an independent reality, free of human interaction, emerge in the first place? His answer to this question, harking back to the debates between Might and Right narrated by Plato, points to the real stakes in the so-called science wars: the perplexed submission of ordinary people before the warring forces of claimants to the ultimate truth.

  

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Review: Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies

User Review  - Andrew - Goodreads

Very compelling, I thought. Latour does his anthropology in a way that would have appealed to me a lot near the end of my undergraduate studies. This only makes me want to dig more into his corpus. Read full review

Review: Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies

User Review  - Katherine - Goodreads

Really tough to get the head around some of Latour but this is a very interesting book. I admire what the aim is - the bridging of positivist ideas of knowledge and a social constructionist idea of knowledge. Read full review

Contents

Do You Believe in Reality?
1
Circulating Reference
24
Sciences Blood Flow
80
From Fabrication to Reality
113
The Historicity of Things
145
A Collective of Humans and Nonhumans
174
The Invention of the Science Wars
216
A Politics Freed from Science
236
The Slight Surprise of Action
266
Conclusion
293
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Bruno LaTour was born in the French province of Burgundy, where his family has been making wine for many generations. He was educated in Dijon, where he studied philosophy and Biblical exegesis. He then went to Africa, to complete his military service, working for a French organization similar to the American Peace Corps. While in Africa he became interested in the social sciences, particularly anthropology. LaTour believes that through his interests in philosophy, theology, and anthropology, he is actually pursuing a single goal, to understand the different ways that truth is built. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, LaTour has written about the philosophy and sociology of science in an original, insightful, and sometimes quirky way. Works that have been translated to English include The Pasteurization of France; Laboratory Life; Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society; We Have Never Been Modern; and Aramis, or the Love of Technology. LaTour is a professor at the Center for the Sociology of Innovation, a division of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines, in Paris.

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