Sunday, October 16, 2011

To be or to have

From Graham Harman (2007). The importance of Bruno Latour for philosophy. Cultural Studies Review, 13(1), 31-49.

Latour’s metaphysics is utterly democratic. Atoms and quarks are real actors in the cosmos, but so are Fidel Castro, Houdini, and unicorns. We cannot declare a priori that certain actors are more real than others; all we can say is that some are stronger than others. But this strength is never measured solely in the currency of human struggles for dominance, since animals, stars and brute subatomic matter are engaged in the struggle for reality no less than are Machiavellian cabals. (p.35)

Fact or fiction, real or unreal, and perhaps also good or bad; there is no difference except in as much as there is power in being aligned powerfully.


  1. I guess I'm just biased. I am far more interested in actors who have a presence,and whose presence bumps into mind every now and then. Sure, the cosmos has a (biiiiig) presence, but we dont encounter each other too often. (The moon, well, that's another story - the tides are both important and fascinating). Maybe its a matter of granularity or resolution.

  2. The presence is perceived, doesnt have to be actual; if i believe the world is flat i dont sail over the edge. If i believe in witches i will rally against them, If i believe in heaven i might behave in ways increasing my chances of getting there...
    Doesnt have to be rational; I dont like swimming in the sea because of sharks, yet more people die of dog bites than shark attacks...