My feelings about the AIME conference are mixed. Everything went smoothly and I was very happy to be there. I thought that there was a very good ambiance, a convivial affect, but the exchanges remained mainly at the superficial level. The talks given were all quite interesting, as were the question and answer periods, even though I was disappointed in the lack of opportunity for real dialogue for the rank and file. I felt frustrated in my desire to get answers to my continuing questions and in my will to express my own point of view.
As to the content of the ideas expressed, nothing really new was said. I shall do my homework and read up more on Gaia theory, but I feel that too many references to Gaia without going into scientific and economic detail served to distract from, or water down, the philosophical content. Thankfully, the chargés d’affaires gave a wider philosophical context, and proposed complementary analyses.
The 7 “chargés d’affaires” did not follow the diplomatic script that had been envisaged for them, and so they managed to get more democracy into the event than had been initially planned for, which I thought was a good thing. I think this was an intellectually courageous and ethically admirable behaviour on Bruno Latour’s part, to invite people who though not at all hostile, and globally sympathetic to the project of a pluralist ontology and politics, were going to be very critical of Latour’s particular implementation.