Something else Rorty and Latour have in common: they both answer their e-mail quite quickly. I got a short note from Rorty saying, among other things, that he particularly liked We Have Never Been Modern, and a longer note from Latour gently chiding me for completely misreading him. (“ah readers, readers…”)
Latour’s point (unless I’m misreading him again) is that he’s interested in objects, while Rorty is interested in people. He calls himself “a hard core realist”; as realists go, I’m not sure his view is entirely mainstream, but never mind that. And he really didn’t like my uses of “belief” and “conversation”, saying that Iconoclash is against belief, and “this one [Politics of Nature?] entirely against conversation”.
So I think that my view of Latour must have been tainted by my recent reading of Rorty. Having said that, I’m still having a hard time seeing them as quite as different as that – both of them argue against Platonic notions of idealism, and I’m not sure that Rorty’s conversations leading to constantly-changing webs of beliefs are so different from Latour’s networks of (among other things) propositions whose value gets revisited over and over again. I should clearly go back and take another look at Latour’s collectives (including both human and nonhuman members), though. If nothing else, I still can’t remember how Politics of Nature could be seen as “entirely against conversation”.
There are no revisions for this post.