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Elias/Thermodynamics/Darwin (with some comments on ANT)

Posted on by edwin sayes

Greetings all,

I have a couple quick questions but, first, a quick response to a previous post on Elias and ANT.

Unfortunately, I don’t know any secondary lit on ANT (at all!) but there no small amount on the relationship between them internal to ANT. Which is most welcome: Elias and ANT have a lot to teach each other. Anyway, from Organizing Modernity onwards, John Law continuously writes on the relationship between the ANT approach and Elias. Most of this is rather veiled. From the top of my head, there are only ever broad references to the The Court Society and TCP . More significantly he writes in Organizing Modernity that what he aims at formulating is a sociology of verbs (It might be necessary to disclaim that this might be aimed more at Michel Serres than Elias. Serres, the philosophical inspiration behind ANT, calls for a philosophy of pre-positions — in the sense of that which lies before the position, constitutes it, demarcates it, or, as Latour says, “makes it be.” For both Serres and Latour, in seeming contrast to Law, time is only ever secondary, it is an effect. Time percolates or, put differently, is filtered by circulating entities). In a later article (where he also cites Elias) Law tellingly writes that one could call ANT process sociology. Finally, in Reassembling the Social, Elias is accused by Latour of not paying due diligence to objects. Objects, Latour says, are not enough to “load the social” for Elias. I will say only that this is rather odd: Elias is explicit in saying that  the process of civilization (which, of course, has no start) and the process of technization have always been inter-twined.

Anyway: Continue reading