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Bruno Latour zombies

July 17, 2014

This post is about a year late because the book “An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns” by Bruno Latour was published a year ago, but history in non-linear and I am just reading it now. It’s so unbelievably on point, I nearly shit myself when I read part of chapter 4 today, pages 116-117:

we see the emergence of that strange artifact of matter, RES EXTENSA-COGITANS, this world of displacements without transformation, of strict linkages of causes and effects, of transports of indisputable necessities. The fact that this world is impossible and so opposed to experience will not be held against it; on the contrary, that it is contrary to experience proves its reality. In the grip of such a contradiction, Reason herself cannot help but cry out: “Credo quia absurdum!” “I believe because it is absurd.”


No one believes himself to be a realist — not among the Moderns, at least — if he is not a “materialist” in the sense in which we have just defined the term, if he does not believe that everything visible that exists is forever carved out of the unique fabric of “knowability” — a composite and toxic product that does not even have the advantage of ensuring knowledge for us, since it is as far removed from the networks of reference as it is from the paths of existence that allow beings to continue existing. As if all the objects of the world had been transfused and turned into something like zombies.


How could scientists allow notions to be developed that would no longer make it possible to equip the paths of knowledge with all their heavy apparatus of forms and instruments? How could they not be the first to make sure that the conditions have all come together to capture the rare events called discoveries? It isn’t done by corresponding with zombies, this much they know perfectly well.

bruno latour zombie

See the book’s website at and see also a blog of chapter summaries: “AIME Research Group“. And also prior ZombieLaw references to Bruno Latour.


From → Academics

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