An Adept and Amusing Analysis of Science

Science in Action. Bruno Latour. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1987. 274 pp. $25. Sacrebleu! This is science? Forget those preconceptions now comfortably a part of how you see science and the sociology of it, or how you see nature and society. Here instead we have sketches of Janus: on the left a graybeard tells us that "Nature is the cause that allowed controversies to be settled"; on the right, a more youthful half-face tells us that "Nature will be the consequence of settlement." A

Thomas Gieryn
Jun 28, 1987
Science in Action. Bruno Latour. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1987. 274 pp. $25.


Sacrebleu! This is science? Forget those preconceptions now comfortably a part of how you see science and the sociology of it, or how you see nature and society. Here instead we have sketches of Janus: on the left a graybeard tells us that "Nature is the cause that allowed controversies to be settled"; on the right, a more youthful half-face tells us that "Nature will be the consequence of settlement." And there we have stick-figure homunculi walking from a "center" (like a laboratory) to a "periphery" (like an archaeological site), and carrying back to the center valuable "inscriptions" (like scribbles on a notepad). Where is the science in these cartoons?

For Bruno Latour, a Parisian anthropologist at the Ecole National Supérieure des Mines and not yet a graybeard, everywhere. Forget that science is a body...

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