LATOUR/BADIOU: a “wild” comparison

The problem with Bruno Latour’s style is largely due to his anxiety of influence and his consequent covering his tracks by changing the terminology and hiding the concepts by means of a seemingly de-concepted “infra-language”. This is motivated by his desire to think and write outside the meta-linguistic sufficiency of traditional academic philosophy, but it has created more misunderstandings than it has avoided (see previous post).

Latour has recently produced a very innovative ontology, expounded in his treatise AN INQUIRY INTO MODES OF EXISTENCE. This is where I bring in the comparison of Latour with Badiou. Latour asserts that the sixteen modes of existence that he describes are also modes of “veridiction”, in Badiousian terms they are “truth procedures”.

We must be careful here not to raise superficial objections. Obviously Latour is not Badiou, his terminology is different. I do not reify either’s vocabulary, and I have produced a series of “wild” comparisons, for example in this post.

I had a very interesting dialogue with François Nicolas on this attempt at a comparison of Badiou’s and Latour’s thought. Though he remained unconvinced, he was quite courteous and seemed genuinely curious. A trace of my discussion with François Nicolas can be found here.

I do not “believe” in Latour’s system, but using him as a means of comparison can help us see limitations in Badiou’s thought that would otherwise go unnoticed. All I am saying is: read Latour with an open mind, outside reified terminology and provincial references, and it will change your vision of Badiou.

I do not defend Latour blindly, I have often been very critical, and was even classified as a “troll” by his group at one point. This designation must have been revised, as Latour later published an article by me in his final catalogue for the AIME project exhibition, RESET MODERNITY.

I have been ganged up on and denigrated by “Badiousian” hard-liners for daring to take a step back and looking at Badiou from an angle that they had never thought of. Sticking to the letter of the text is not the only way to elucidate it and to do it justice.

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