Bruno Latour Questions for English 492 Modern Critical Theory, CSU Fullerton Fall 2015

BRUNO LATOUR QUESTIONS FOR ENGLISH 492 THEORY, CSU FULLERTON

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BRUNO LATOUR, "WHY HAS CRITIQUE RUN OUT OF STEAM? . . ."

Assigned: Latour, Bruno. "Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern" (2282-2302). Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2nd edition.

"Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern"

1. On 2282-86 (first paragraph) of "Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern," Bruno Latour addresses what he calls his "worry" (2282 upper middle) about what has become of the project of critique that spans from the Enlightenment to postmodernist literary and cultural theory. How does he articulate that worry -- what examples does he offer to illustrate the reasons for his concern, and how does he parse those examples as signs of a serious problem with the way "critique" is employed today?

2. On 2286-87 of "Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern," Bruno Latour identifies some of the possible, but wrong, motives that might make a person weary of critique. What are those false motives? Furthermore, how does he assess the mistake that theorists have made -- the main thing that caused critique to fall from favor -- and what does he suggest might be done to make things right?

3. On 2288-92 (top) of "Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern," Bruno Latour mentions a couple of important events that occurred in 2003: the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the concerted American and British effort to make a case for war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. What inferences does he make regarding these events in connection to his exploration of the meaning of the word, "thing"? Why is this word so important to Latour -- how might it hold great value in the restoration of critique?

4. On 2292-97 (first half of page) of "Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern," Bruno Latour offers us several diagrams to illustrate the process whereby critique has come to operate. Consider his prose explanation of these diagrams, including what he says about the "fairy position" and the "fact position." How do these terms, along with the diagrams and a bit of sarcasm, help Latour explain why so many people now find critique so exasperating?

5. On 2297-2302 of "Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern," Bruno Latour offers his concluding thoughts on what has gone wrong with critique and how it might be transformed into something more positive. What value does he find in the ideas of Alfred Whitehead, Martin Heidegger and Allan Turing? What new attitude and approach is Latour himself recommending to theorists, and why?