Naming is a serious, that is, a pragmatic business, when it means giving to what is named the power to induce thinking and feeling in a particular way.”

In naming the possibility of post-nihilist praxis (as thought and behavior) we attempt to articulate the potency and urgency of thinking and feeling beyond semantic closure. 


From Isabelle Stengers’ ‘The Cosmopolitical Proposal’ (pdf):

How can I present a proposal intended not to say what is, or what ought to be, but to provoke thought; one that requires no other verification than the way in which it is able to “slow down” reasoning and create an opportunity to arouse a slightly different awareness of the problems and situations mobilizing us? How can this proposal be distinguished from issues of authority and generality currently articulated to the notion of “theory”? This question is particularly important since the “cosmopolitical” proposal, as I intend to characterize it, is not designed primarily for “generalists”; it has meaning only in concrete situations where practitioners operate. It furthermore requires practitioners who – and this is a political problem, not a cosmopolitical one – have learned to shrug their shoulders at the claims of generalizing theoreticians that define them as subordinates charged with the task of “applying” a theory or that capture their practice as an illustration of a theory.

This difficulty introduces one of the themes of this article: the distinction and inseparable nature of political and cosmopolitical proposals. I try to show that when proposals corresponding to what can be called “political ecology”, the politicization of “positive” knowledge-related issues or practices concerning “things”, become relevant, the cosmopolitical proposal can become so as well. In other words, this proposal has strictly no meaning in most concrete situations today but it can be useful to those who have already effected the “political shift” associated with political ecology, and thus learned to laugh not at theories but at the authority associated with them. Another theme in this article, related to the first, is the question of the vulnerability of this type of proposal, exposed to all possible misinterpretations and above all to their very predictable theoretical

Just for the record Isabelle Stengers is not Bruno Latour.

” The reliability of …science’s results is relative to experimentally purified, well controlled laboratory experiments. And competent objections are competent only with regards to such controlled environments. Which means that scientific reliability is situated, bound to the constraints of its production. Which also means that when the eggs turn golden that is, when they have left their native environment, they have left behind this specific reliability and robustness. What reliability they will have now is no longer an issue of scientific judgment only, but rather a social and political issue.”