Latour on semiotics, literature and modes of existence


This conversation (Part 1, Part 2) with Bruno Latour is apparently from 2006 but it managed to elude me somehow up to now. It was published in Issue 1 of Arch Literary Journal in February 2008. There are a number of interesting points in there about the relationship between semiotics, literature and science and technology studies, including some hints about modes of existence.

I think the block, the bottleneck, is not at all in the question “do we have a multiplicity of interpretations, can we provide objectivity or not?” In my view, the bottleneck is in the difficultly of describing what happens to agency when there are no anthropomorphic characters. And there is no vocabulary – no accepted vocabulary – to talk about that. (…) I think that the bottleneck is that we don’t know how to define the nonhuman at all. And thus we don’t know how to define the human. So literature is the place where constant experiments have been provided. It’s to the social sciences what mathematics is to physics.


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