Bruno Latour 1947 – 2022

I can honestly say that I did not fully understand much of what the great French philosopher, Bruno Latour, had to say (admittedly in translation) about the big questions of life. His recent death, at age 75, made me go back and re-read works such as An Inquiry into Modes of Existence (2013). In this big book I found a profound statement:

“… if we remember that the adventure of these last three centuries can be summed up by the story – yes, I admit it, the Master Narrative – of a double displacement: from economy to ecology. Two forms of familiar habitats, ‘oikos’: we know that the first is uninhabitable and the second is not yet ready for us! The whole world has been forced to move into “The Economy”, which we now know is only a utopia – or rather a dystopia, something like the opium of the people. We are now being asked to move suddenly with our weapons and our baggage into a new dwelling place called “ecology”, which was sold to us as being more habitable and more sustainable but which for the moment has no more form or substance than The Economy, which we are in such a hurry to leave behind.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that the modernizers are gloomy. They are refugees twice over, twice driven out of artificial paradises, and they don’t know where to put the dwelling places they bought on the installment plan! To put it bluntly, they don’t know where to settle. They are travelers in transit, displaced masses currently wandering between the dystopia of The Economy and the utopia of ecology …”


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