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After the harrowing experience of the pandemic and lockdown, both states and individuals have been searching for ways to exit the crisis, many hoping to return as soon as possible to ‘the world as it was before the pandemic’. But there is another way to learn the lessons of this ordeal: as inhabitants of the earth, we may not be able to exit lockdown so easily after all, since the global health crisis is embedded in another larger and more serious crisis – that brought about by the New Climate Regime. Learning to live in lockdown might be an opportunity to be seized: a dress-rehearsal for the climate mutation, an opportunity to understand at last where we – inhabitants of the earth – live, what kind of place ‘earth’ is and how we will be able to orient ourselves and exist in this world in the years to come. We might finally be able to explore the land in which we live, together with all other living beings, begin to understand the true nature of the climate mutation we are living through and discover what kind of freedom is possible – a freedom differently situated and differently understood. In this sequel to his bestselling book Down to Earth , Bruno Latour provides a compass for this necessary re-orientation of our lives, outlining the metaphysics of confinement and deconfinement with which we will all be obliged to come to terms by the strange times in which we are living.
The emergence of modern sciences in the seventeenth century profoundly renewed our understanding of nature. For the last three centuries new ideas of nature have been continually developed by theology, politics, economics, and science, especially the sciences of the material world. The situation is even more unstable today, now that we have entered an ecological mutation of unprecedented scale. Some call it the Anthropocene, but it is best described as a new climatic regime. And a new regime it certainly is, since the many unexpected connections between human activity and the natural world oblige every one of us to reopen the earlier notions of nature and redistribute what had been packed inside. So the question now arises: what will replace the old ways of looking at nature? This book explores a potential candidate proposed by James Lovelock when he chose the name 'Gaia' for the fragile, complex system through which living phenomena modify the Earth. The fact that he was immediately misunderstood proves simply that his readers have tried to fit this new notion into an older frame, transforming Gaia into a single organism, a kind of giant thermostat, some sort of New Age goddess, or even divine Providence. In this series of lectures on 'natural religion,' Bruno Latour argues that the complex and ambiguous figure of Gaia offers, on the contrary, an ideal way to disentangle the ethical, political, theological, and scientific aspects of the now obsolete notion of nature. He lays the groundwork for a future collaboration among scientists, theologians, activists, and artists as they, and we, begin to adjust to the new climatic regime.
Bruno Latour’s long term project is to compare the felicity and infelicity conditions of the different values dearest to the heart of those who have ‘never been modern’. According to him, this is the only way to develop an anthropology of the Moderns. After his work on science, on technology and, more recently, on law, this book explores the truth conditions of religious speech acts. Even though there is no question that religion is one of the values that has been intensely cherished in the course of history, it’s also clear that it has become immensely difficult to tune in to its highly specific mode of enunciation. Every effort to speak in the right key sounds awkward, reactionary, pious or simply empty. Hence the necessity of devising a way of writing that brings to the fore this elusive form of speech to render it audible again. In this highly original book, the author offers a completely different tack on the endless ‘science and religion’ conflict by protecting them both from the confusion with the notion of information. Like The Making of Law, this book is one more attempt at developing this ‘inquiry on modes of existence’ that provides an alternative definition of society.