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French philosopher and anthropologist Bruno Latour (75 years old) has died. He was considered one of the most important contemporary thinkers in France and one of the greatest innovators in the social sciences.
Latour dealt with the most diverse topics, such as the (social) construction of scientific facts, and was one of the founders of the network of actors theory. In recent years, much attention has been paid to climate change.
Latour was born in Bonn in 1947 into a family of wine producers. He studied philosophy, sociology and anthropology at the universities of Dijon, Tours and Paris. From 1982 he taught at the famous Faculty of Engineering, the National Higher School of Mines, and from 2006 at the University’s Institute of Political Studies (Institute of Political Studies).
In 1979 he gained fame among his fellow writers Laboratory life: the social construction of scientific facts. He wrote with British sociologist Walgar about the way research results are produced in the laboratory. Contrary to popular belief, this was also a social process, according to Latour, in which issues such as rhetoric, prejudice, and group behavior play an important role.
In the 1990s, he developed the actor network theory with Michel Callon and John Law. It is an approach that analyzes social phenomena as networks in which people not only play a role, but also play a role. The differences appear only after interaction. According to the theory of the network of actors, people and things constitute, so to speak, the “atoms” from which each larger unit is built.
In the later years of his career, Latour focused almost entirely on climate change and on the question of how this scientific field was being undermined by, for example, climate deniers. His starting point was that science and politics could no longer be separated. On topics with strong political implications, such as race, IQ and climate, scientists cannot be unbiased, Latour says. According to him, this does not mean that you cannot do good science, but that you need to be open about your assumptions, methods and conclusions.
in his book Face to face with Gaia From 2017 he stated that nature no longer constitutes the stable background for our actions, but that we ourselves are a part of it. “We entered into the drama of geological history, the Anthropocene. In that era, the environmental consequences of human actions came into force,” Latour said.
Latour’s work has won many awards, such as the Holberg Prize in 2013 and the Kyoto Prize last year. He has also received numerous honorary degrees from universities in Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain and Canada.
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