Archive for May, 2009

Actor-network theory and learning

31 May 2009

Actor-network theory has been characterised by a strong aversion to cognitive metaphors and explanations ever since its early history. In the Postscript to the second edition of Laboratory Life (1986: 280), Latour and Woolgar go as far as calling for a moratorium on cognitive explanations:”Perhaps the best way to express our position is by proposing a ten-year moratorium on cognitive explanations of science. If our French epistemologist colleagues are sufficiently confident in the paramount importance of cognitive phenomena for understanding science, they will accept the challenge. We hereby promise that if anything remains to be explained at the end of this period, we too will turn to the mind!”

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Heidegger’s ontology of technology

31 May 2009

Graham Harman‘s most recent article, “Technology, objects and things in Heidegger,” just published online in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, is another feat of compression in the best traditions of  Harmanesque distillation. While in his Heidegger Explained (2007) he had already managed to compress Heidegger’s life’s work into a mere 183 pages, this time Harman summarised Heidegger’s thought in less than 5000 words. While the focus is on Heidegger’s thinking about technology, objects and things, as the title suggests, Harman not only elucidates these concepts but also uses them to interpret Heidegger’s entire philosophy.

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Michel Serres at Stanford

28 May 2009

An article on Michel Serres and his association with Stanford University: “Michel Serres, one of France’s ‘immortels,’ tells the ‘grand récit’ at Stanford.” There is also a video with the man himself here.

The theory of spheres

14 May 2009

Peter Sloterdijk quote of the week:

“Ventilation is the profound secret of existence.”

Melik Ohanian and Jean-Christophe Royoux (2005), Cosmograms. Lukas & Sternberg, New York (p. 225). There is actually a PDF copy of this interview with Sloterdijk here: “Foreword to the Theory of Spheres“.

There is no terrestrial globe

14 May 2009

Bruno Latour quote of the week:

“JEAN-CHRISTOPHE ROYOUX: It’s precisely at a time when we’ve never spoken so much about globalization that the account of the dislocation of the Cosmos as natural unity appears. Isn’t this paradoxical?

BRUNO LATOUR: It’s bizarre but it’s not a paradox: before, we had the Globe and no globalization, but now we have globalization and nothing but blogs!”

From a delightful little volume called Cosmograms by Melik Ohanian and Jean-Christophe Royoux (2005), Lukas & Sternberg, New York (p. 215).

Politics of markets

6 May 2009

According to the socializing finance blog, there are still some places available at the “Politics of markets: Controversies, tools and policies” workshop, to take place at UC Berkeley on 7 August 2009, prior to the 2009 American Sociological Association meeting. The workshop will be engaging with one of the core issues of economic sociology, namely the relationship between markets and politics. It will focus on such contemporary concerns as the marketisation of public policy, the politics of valuation, and the politics of market design. Please see the workshop website for details on speakers and topics and how to register.