Science and technology have immense authority and influence in our society, yet their working remains little understood. The conventional perception of science in Western societies has been modified in recent years by the work of philosophers, sociologists and historians of science. In this book Bruno Latour brings together these different approaches to provide a lively and challenging analysis of science, demonstrating how social context and technical content are both essential to a proper understanding of scientific activity. Emphasizing that science can only be understood through its practice, the author examines science and technology in action: the role of scientific literature, the activities of laboratories, the institutional context of science in the modern world, and the means by which inventions and discoveries become accepted. From the study of scientific practice he develops an analysis of science as the building of networks. Throughout, Bruno Latour shows how a lively and realistic picture of science in action alters our conception of not only the natural sciences but also the social sciences and the sociology of knowledge in general.This stimulating book, drawing on a wealth of examples from a wide range of scientific activities, will interest all philosophers, sociologists and historians of science, scientists and engineers, and students of the philosophy of social science and the sociology of knowledge.
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(227mm x 146mm x 16mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
An attempt to show the scientific method in action by putting it in a social and technical context. Latour believes that if we see the process and the play of various forces on the participants, we will develop a deeper insight into what is happening and look at it as a preeminent human activity. He is not so much interested in who discovered what and when as he is in the approach, mind-set and creativity of the people involved as they struggle, often against great odds, to form concepts and formulate models. He breaks the area down into categories such as scientific literature, labs, science's position in the world and the way in which scientists invent or discover something and the way in which it is accepted. Latour's approach is different and most readers, accustomed to more traditional approaches, will have to adjust to it. However, the angle of vision is winning, and the more sophisticated reader familiar with science and philosophy will find it very worthwhile. There is a wealth of material and some titillating insight into discoveries beginning with the famed race to find the structure of DNA - the double helix - and in Latour's hands, it becomes a true cliffhanger. Not for everyone, but this will reward those who want to probe science and the modern world in depth. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour is Professor and Vice-President for Research at the Sciences Po, Paris.