Contradictory repertoires


Latour, Bruno (2004). Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern. In: Critical Inquiry 30, no. 2 (Winter 2004). S.241f.

If you think I am exaggerating in my somewhat dismal portrayal of the critical landscape, it is because we have had in effect almost no occasion so far to detect the total mismatch of the three contradictory repertoires — antifetishism, positivism, realism — because we carefully manage to apply them on different topics. We explain the objects we don’t approve of by treating them as fetishes; we account for behaviors we don’t like by discipline whose makeup we don’t examine; and we concentrate our passionate interest on only those things that are for us worthwhile matters of concern. But of course such a cavalier attitude with such contradictory repertoires is not possible for those of us, in science studies, who have to deal with states of affairs that fit neither in the list of plausible fetishes — because everyone, including us, does believe very strongly in them — nor in the list of undisputable facts because we are witnessing their birth, their slow construction, their fascinating emergence as matters of concern. The metaphor of the Copernican revolution, so tied to the destiny of critique, has always been for us, science students, simply moot. This is why, with more than a good dose of field chauvinism, I consider this tiny field so important; it is the little rock in the shoe that might render the routine patrol of the critical barbarians more and more painful.