Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Owwaab

Bruno Latour recently delivered a course of the 2013 Gifford Lectures for the University of Edinburgh; the six lectures are available in PDF format online.

It has some typical Latourian dry humor/seriousness-but-with-a-light-touch. In the first lecture, for instance, he suggests that instead of using the word 'nature' or 'the natural world' when examining naturalistic accounts, practices, and beliefs, we just substitute Owwaab (Out-of-Which-We-Are-All-Born), which is taken to be in its fundamental character external, unified, nonteleological, and inexorable; he then goes on to lay out some outlines for an anthropological study of the people of Owwaab, who, of course, attribute everything to the laws of Owwaab, and insist that everything can be explained in terms of Owwaab.

In the second lecture he has a discussion of Hume's Dialogues that I'll have to look at more closely. Lecture 3 is about Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, and looks at some of its further implications in Lecture 4; Lecture 5 is about war and lecture 6 ties things up. I should say, though, that I've only had time so far to glance over the last three lectures.

In any case, all quite interesting and worth reading, although you have to be in the mood for Latour's style and agency-based sociology.

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