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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Irreduction, dependencies and hospitality

I often come back to Latour's first proposition in Irréductions. It is puzzling: nothing is by itself reducible nor irreducible to anything else. I wrote an article on horizon and irreducibility years back where I compare this existential limbo Latour seems to put everything in with the image of the horizon that Eudoro de Sousa uses to analyze Anximander and Anaxagoras. But 1.1.1 is still puzzling. It states, in Schaffer's categories, that neither priority monism or pluralism nor priority nihilism holds: no priority, no dependence relation is there by itself among things. They need to be constructed. It is a strong, maybe the strongest of all process-oriented efforts to deconstruct ready-made reality. In the paper I talk about the existential limbo as if it is a pool of things that hold no dependency relation with each other - they are neither dependent nor independent from each other. The pool could be a world prior to any individuation. Things are brought to the fore by operations of individuation before which they are neither mixed with the others nor self-standing - like things in the night, before the horizon brings up the light. They are not created by the horizon, but the horizon bring them to the fore in a specific form (reduced or irreduced, identical or different, dependent or independent) by paying the cost of transport. The horizon is the sponsoring agent. The borders and contours of something brought about depends on the lights shed on it.

It also helps, I believe, to think in terms of hosting (and hospitality). Latour talks about an expanding community that tries welcomes newcomers. To seek knowledge about something is an exercise in hospitality - and it is a way to bring it to the fore. Now, hospitality and horizon go together - because they come in indefinitely many quantities. There are many guesthouses, many horizons. Pre-individual elements can be composed (and decomposed) in different ways. Latour chose to start out not by saying that individuals are up for grabs in the process of individuation but rather that relations of dependency are never ready-made, they are also built on the fly.

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