Central Question 8

Latour sets the conditions for modernity in science studies: that the practice of translation and the practice of purification are considered separately; that the knowledge of things and the knowledge of power are considered separately; that nature and culture are considered separately. He then argues that we have never actually been modern.

Q: If this is the case- is being "modern" a goal to strive toward, or an end to avoid? Latour goes on to make a case for being "amodern" (which we have apparently never not been.) Is there value in separating our examinations of nature and culture?

Revisiting the reading and discussion from class, I think that while my question wasn't fully developed, I was headed in the right direction in my thought process. Instead of questioning whether or not *being* modern is useful, I would like to question whether the *concept* of modernity is useful. The difference in these two questions is subtle, but (I think) significant. Instead of questioning whether there is value in separating nature and culture, I am now questioning whether there is value in separating "now" and "then." I think that Latour makes a convincing argument that if we stop trying to believe that we separate science, politics, and culture any more effectively than we did in the so-called "pre-modern" era, we may find more effective/efficient/accurate means of analyzing scientific structure.

Still, I think that Latour's argument is successful because he defines the way in which we separate modern from pre-modern. Can we find other ways to differentiate ourselves from out past that don't interfere with our ability to analyze science in an anthropological/inclusive way? And should we want to? I don't think that recognizing different eras necessitates a linear or progressive view. If we can separate "now" and "then" without assuming that moving forward in time is the same as *progressing* in time, recognizing these differences (if they exist) can actually be useful in studying science more effectively.

For example, one way in which we can separate "now" from "then" is by following Latour's advice. If Latour is correct that modernists aim to separate science, culture, and politics while doing so is actually impossible, this suggests that modernist thought lacks a degree of self-awareness. If we *become* aware that we may not "untie the Gordian knot," then our practice "now" is different from our practice "then" in our recognition of this limit. This is not to say that we have not in the past been able to do this.

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