Graham Harman explicates four crucial concepts in Bruno Latour’s metaphysics(Harman):
1) Actants – This refers to anything that acts. Whatever produces any sort of effect is regarded as real, even if they are immaterial.
2) Irreduction – Nothing is reducible to anything else.
3) Translation – One must demonstrate the ways in which entities influence one another, yet distinct from the other and not reducible to it.
4) Associations – Entities have strength insofar as they have allies. They are weak to the extent that they lack allies. Forces are potentially equal depending upon their occurrence in specific contexts. One cannot reduce all of reality to either linguistic constructs or atoms. There are domains where one might be stronger than the other, and the relationship between the two is always likely to be complex. Therefore, one must, in “translation,” determine what sorts of allies or associations different forces have in order to tease out causal relations of these forces.
Philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Bruno Latour both provide accounts of reality which allow us to have a highly sophisticated and dynamic understanding of causation that goes beyond simplistic dualisms and linear modes of thinking.It is through their thinking that we, via Deleuze, come to a heightened understanding of the way in which differentials constitute observable reality. Reality is thus not reducible, for Deleuze, ultimately, to language or social norms, as post-structuralists believe, but is at once always already social, material, historical, cultural and everything else under the sun. Latour’s metaphysics are similarly inclusive, since he regards everything which produces an effect as an “actant” and thus as equally real. Thus, ideas and concepts are democratically placed on par with atoms, robots,cars, etc. Differentials of ideas, objects, particular brains, etc.
In this article, an illustration of such an account will be provided through an examination of the interaction of gender norms with neurobiological differences in men and women, via an informal, somewhat game-theoretic, model. Suppose we have a group of men and women. Both exist as biologically unique, particular individuals in culturally unique, particular social situations. Each individual will bring their own unique neurobiology and experiences to the table, which will themselves, based on their own unique neurobiology and their own experience and internalization of various ideas, have certain anticipations or expectations of what is going on in the mind of the opposite sex. Deleuze and Latour provide us with the theoretical material which can equip us to think about all of these variables in all their endlessly complex mutual reciprocation, interaction and determination.
Harman, Graham. Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics. Retrieved from: http://www.re-press.org/book-files/OA_Version_780980544060_Prince_of_Net…