Archive for the ‘Martin Heidegger’ Category

CfP: Phenomenological Approaches to Media, Technology and Communication

14 November 2012

Conditions of Mediation: Phenomenological Approaches to Media, Technology and Communication

2013 International Communication Association (ICA) Preconference
ICA Theory, Philosophy and Critique Division
17 June 2013, Birkbeck, University of London

Paper proposals are invited from a very wide range of perspectives, including but not limited to media history, media archaeology, audience studies, political theory, metaphysics, software studies, science and technology studies, digital aesthetics, cultural geography and urban studies. Though all proposals should relate in some way to phenomenological thinking, this should be interpreted broadly, ranging from core thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre to those with looser affiliations to phenomenology per se, for example Arendt, Bergson, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Garfinkel, Ingold, Latour, Whitehead and Harman.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Dr David Berry, Swansea University
  • Professor Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Professor Graham Harman, American University of Cairo
  • Professor Lisa Parks, UC Santa Barbara
  • Professor Paddy Scannell, University of Michigan

Please send an abstract (max 200 words) of your paper to both Scott Rodgers ( and Tim Markham ( by 20 November 2012. Authors will be informed regarding acceptance / rejection for the preconference no later than 20 December 2012.

Henning Schmidgen on the early Latour

14 November 2012

This is one of the most informative articles I’ve read on the early influences on Latour’s work. The role of biblical exegesis is particularly interesting. And even the question of the Heidegger-Latour connection gets a little mention, which was the original impetus behind the reading group that launched this blog. Apparently the link is Latour’s philosophy teacher,  André Malet, who was into Bultmann, Heidegger’s one-time colleague, debating partner and friend.

Schmidgen, H. (2012). “The Materiality of Things? Bruno Latour, Charles Péguy, and the History of Science.” History of the Human Sciences.

This article sheds new light on Bruno Latour’s sociology of science and technology by looking at his early study of the French writer, philosopher and editor Charles Péguy (1873–1914).

In the early 1970s, Latour engaged in a comparative study of Péguy’s Clio and the four gospels of the New Testament. His 1973 contribution to a Péguy colloquium (published in 1977) offers rich insights into his interest in questions of time, history, tradition and translation. Inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, Latour reads Clio as spelling out and illustrating the following argument: ‘Repetition is a machine to produce differences with identity’.

However, in contrast to Deleuze’s work (together with Félix Guattari) on the materiality of machines, or assemblages [agencements], Latour emphasizes the semiotic aspects of the repetition/difference process. As in Péguy, the main model for this process is the Roman Catholic tradition of religious events.

The article argues that it is this reading of Péguy and Latour’s early interest in biblical exegesis that inspired much of Latour’s later work. In Laboratory Life (Latour and Woolgar, 1979) and The Pasteurization of France (1988) in particular, problems of exegesis and tradition provide important stimuli for the analysis of scientific texts.

In this context, Latour gradually transforms the question of tradition into the problem of reference. In a first step, he shifts the event that is transmitted and translated from the temporal dimension (i.e. the past) to the spatial (i.e. from one part of the laboratory to another). It is only in a second step that Latour resituates scientific events in time.

As facts they are ‘constructed’ but nevertheless ‘irreducible’. They result, according to Latour, from the tradition of the future. As a consequence, the Latourian approach to science distances itself from the materialism of Deleuze and other innovative theoreticians.

Korean paper on Heidegger-Latour theme

5 October 2012

Lee, June-Seok (2012). “Understanding the Identity of a Disaster through STS.” Korean Association of Science and Technology Studies. 12 (1): 45-78.

한국어 초록

재난이란 무엇인가. 그리고 과학기술학은 이에 대해 무엇을 말해주는가. 재난에 대해서는 여러 정의가 있을 수 있지만, 이 글에서는 주체가 예비한 기술사회시스템 행위자-연결망이 그에 부딪혀 오는 힘과의 겨루기(trial of strength)에서 밀려 와해되는 경우를 상정한다. 이러한 상태는 결절(結節, punctualization)된 행위자-연결망이 해리(解離, depunctualization)되는 과정이며, 존재자의 용재성(用在性, Zuhandenheit, readiness-to-hand)이 뒤로 물러가고 도구의 전재성(前在性, Vorhandenheit, presentness-at-hand)이 현존재 앞에 드러나는 과정이다. 재난을 사례연구로 하여 이 글은 선행연구들이 보지 못했던 라투르 존재론과 하이데거 기술관의 겹침을 살펴볼 것이다. 이러한 과학기술학적 접근은 기술과학과 자연-사회의 아상블라쥬를 해석하는 새로운 이론적 프레임을 우리에게 제공할 수 있을 것이다.


What is a disaster? And what can science and technology studies tell us about it? There might be numerous definitions about disaster. In this article, we will posit that disaster is an incident when sociotechnical system actor-network broke down against the other force in their “trial of strength”. This is a process that punctualized actor-network is depunctualized, and a status that readiness-to-hand of Being recedes while presentness-at-hand of tool-being comes forward. Using the concept of disaster as a case study, we will consider how Latourian ontology overlaps with Heideggerian philosophy of technology. This STS approach which hasn’t been previously studied might provide us with new theoretical framework that enables us to construe the assemblage of technoscience and nature-society in the field of PUS or NPSS.

Enframing and poiesis: Andrew Pickering on environmental governance

6 July 2012

Andrew Pickering (audio) drawing on Heidegger in his talk “Environmental Governance and Resilience: Enframing and poiesis in environmental management” at University of Oxford on 17 Apr 2012 . (Thanks to dmf for the link.)

Popular Prince and the Wolf quotes

19 December 2011

I might be behind the times but I’ve only just discovered that Amazon had introduced some innovations. Reviews posted on Amazon USA are now copied over directly to other English-language sites, such as Amazon UK. Also, not being a Kindle user, I have only just realised that Amazon lists the most popular sentences readers had highlighted on their Kindles. Here are the most popular highlights for The Prince and the Wolf. Try to guess which ones are by Latour and which one are by Harman :)

“Because if substance is excluded as the way to experience existence, then how many ways are there to subsist? That is what I am interested in.”
Highlighted by 6 Kindle users

“Things oversimplify each other just as much as we do. It’s not a special property of human consciousness to distort the world. Entities will distort each other ipso facto by the mere fact that they relate.”
Highlighted by 6 Kindle users

“Philosophy is not in the business of explaining. This is not at all the same thing. Philosophy is in the business of allowing the explanation to go far enough, to help the explainers to move in the explanatory trajectory but not to provide an explanation.”
Highlighted by 6 Kindle users

“…that any artifact is a form of assembling, of gathering, of ‘thinging’ entities together and that it is absurd to forget the mortals and the gods when describing a piece of hardware, even the most hyper-modern ones.”
Highlighted by 6 Kindle users

“Individual actors for Bruno create time by doing something irreversible.”
Highlighted by 5 Kindle users

“Everything is completely cut off in its own self, and as we will see in a moment, it can’t possibly endure from one instant to the next because it’s so utterly concrete that even the smallest change essentially makes it a new actor…”
Highlighted by 5 Kindle users

“Anything that has an effect on other things is an actor, and hence there’s no difference between physical and non-physical actors. Each actor is a black box containing other actors ad infinitum, and all actors are equally real.”
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users

“Empiricism means that the details of the actual occasions are the important theoretical features that we want to detect.”
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users

“All relation for Latour requires a mediator. Any two things can be linked, but only if something links them.”
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users

“Latour is not distinguishing between substance and aggregates the way that Leibniz did, where a circle of men holding hands cannot possibly be a substance because it is merely an aggregate of many individuals. For Latour every individual is already an aggregate to begin with.”
Highlighted by 3 Kindle users

Silver Dreams

29 September 2011

To get your dose of Heideggerian nostalgia for Central European peasant life that is no more, check out the photos of my friend Zoltán Gyetvai, an ethnic Hungarian photographer from Slovakia. I say photographer, but in good Central European tradition he is something of a renaissance man: also a published poet, ethnographer, educator, community organiser, and electrical engineer (if I remember correctly), among other things.  Most of the photos I believe are from the Hungarian historical county of Gömör (now in Slovakia), with some from Transylvania thrown in for good measure. Ethnography for many Hungarian intellectuals in Slovakia is an exercise (or more like a duty) that is full of melancholy because it is aimed at not only documenting the disappearance of an old way of life but also the gradual assimilation of one’s own ethnic community. That all this has coincided with decades of economic decay during communism that has accelerated ever since also adds to the sombre mood of these photographs and the whole situation. This county has the highest unemployment in Slovakia and the population is in decline. Zoltán has been documenting a world that is disappearing in more senses than one.

P.S. I should add that these photos are not only of Hungarians but also of Romani (a large community in Gömör) and possibly Slovaks and others.

The Prince and the Wolf back cover

26 February 2011

In celebration of the fact that the transcript of The Harman Review event at the LSE, organised by the ANTHEM Group in February 2008, is now available for pre-order in the UK (and shortly in the USA), under the title, The Prince and the Wolf: Latour and Harman at the LSE, let me post the back cover of the book here, especially as that is the one that is usually not visible in online book shops.

The Prince and The Wolf back cover

Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Heidegger

20 January 2011

Søren Riis is one of those few people out there who have also been intrigued with the Heidegger-Latour relationship (see his paper (Riis, S. (2008). “The Symmetry between Bruno Latour and Martin Heidegger: The Technique of Turning a Police Officer into a Speed Bump.” Social Studies of Science 38(2): 285-301.) This time he has come out with a book on Heidegger and technology, though it does sound like there is also a Latourian twist to it.

Riis, Søren (2011) Zur Neubestimmung der Technik: Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Martin Heidegger, Francke Verlag, Tübingen

Contrary to Heidegger, Riis advances a number of contentious arguments, which goes to show that biotechnology may indeed hold the “saving power” of modernity, complex modern machines are kinds of artworks, and ancient craftsmanship may be as dangerous as modern technology. Turning Heidegger’s arguments against himself, Riis demonstrates how Heidegger’s thinking in his principal work ”Being and Time” lays the foundation for a radical attack on human existence, which concerns ancient as well as modern technology.

In making the different arguments, emphasis is given to Heidegger’s hermeneutic tricks and techniques, which Heidegger utilizes in order to make his own thinking seem more coherent.

Hat tip OOP.

Academic fashions

16 December 2010

Google’s Books Ngram Viewer seems like the ultimate tool for tracing academic fads and fashions. It charts how often a word or phrase has been mentioned in books over a time period (in the last 200 years). Here are some Ngrams just for fun, on ANT, Latour, Heidegger, Harman, Deleuze, Whitehead, Sloterdijk and others. More on Ngram Viewer at The Guardian.

Towards Speculative Realism

10 November 2010

Graham Harman’s new book of old essays and lectures has just been published under the title Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures, by Zero Books. Its publication is a proper ANTHEM event, in the sense that this book deals with both actor-network theory and Heidegger, as well as Harman’s own attempt to build on both, through his object-oriented philosophy. Here are the contents:

    1. Phenomenology and the Theory of Equipment (1997)
    2. Alphonso Lingis on the Imperatives in Things (1997)
    3. The Theory of Objects in Heidegger and Whitehead (1997)
    4. A Fresh Look at Zuhandenheit (1999)
    5. Bruno Latour, King of Networks (1999)
    6. Object-Oriented Philosophy (1999)
    7. The Revival of Metaphysics in Continental Philosophy (2002)
    8. Physical Nature and the Paradox of Qualities (2006)
    9. Space, Time, and Essence: An Object-Oriented Approach (2008)
    10. The Assemblage Theory of Society (2008)
    11. Objects, Matter, Sleep, and Death (2009)