“To make a sociology…, one needs a society"

I think we could call Latour’s approach toward historical science sociology “the media/communication approach". Or more radically, “database/information approach". The paragraph below is the trace of communication-centered appropriation.

Why should we still do for Pasteur’s genius what we no longer do for Napoleon’s or Rothschild’s? If we find it easy enough to deal with the Russian campaign in terms of sociology or economics, why are we so reluctant to apply sociology to Pasteurian bacteriology?
當我們已經不再讚頌拿破崙與 Rothschild 的天才決定了一切豐功偉業,我們為什麼應該仍大書特書巴斯德的天縱英明?如果我們認為從社會學與經濟學的角度來分析俄法戰爭是夠輕鬆的作法,那麼為什麼我們仍然不情願將社會學應用在巴斯德細菌學的分析上?

…But it must be clearly understood that in social physics there is no law of inertia. To convince someone that an experiment has succeeded, that a technique is effective, that a proof is truly decisive, there must be more than one actor. And idea or a practice cannot move from A to B solely by the force that A gives it; B must seize it and move it…. An idea, even an idea of genius, even an idea that is to save millions of people, never moves of its own accord. It requires a force to fetch it, seize upon it for its own motives, move it, and often transform it.
…但是需要被釐清的是,社會物理學(social physics)中並沒有現實世界的慣性定律。為了要說服人們實驗已經成功、需要一種有效的技術、以及真正決定性的證明,場域中一定有不只一個的行動者。…一個觀念、一個天才的觀念,甚至一個能夠拯救千萬人的觀念,從來不會自己運動。這個觀念需要一個力來捕捉它,找到它的動力、移動它,並且經常轉變它。

This vision of things poses no particular problem, except that it regards all the sites where a particular practice is diffused as made of autonomous agents rather than of inert masses passively transmitting a force. Tolstoy has to reconstitute Russian society and the autonomy of all his characters in order to take from Caesar the things that are not Caesar’s. Similarly, freedom of action must be given back to all the agents of French society in order to decompose Pasteur’s efficacy. Here lies the problem: to make a sociology of bacteriology, one needs a society.
這種對事物的視野,乍看之下沒有提出什麼特別的難題;除了將所有的場域視為由特別一個個實踐所擴散,發射出力(force)、並且由自主行動者、而非被動地由慣性所宰制的社會大眾組成。托爾斯泰為了要把不屬於凱撒的從凱撒身上拆掉,重新建構了俄國社會與他所有角色的自主性;行動的自由必須要被還給法國社會的所有行動者,我們才有辦法解析、解構巴斯德的效用。這裡就是問題的所在:我們必須要先有一個(新的)社會,才能夠創造出一個細菌學的社會學!

P. 15-16, “Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists", in The Pasteurization of France, by Bruno Latour, translated by Alan Sheridan and John Law, Harvard University Press, 1988.

作者 Bruno Latour 藉著十九世紀,最精采的巴斯德革命,來示範他的科學社會學分析。這本書是在談巴斯德主義(Pasteurism)如何在十九世紀末、二十世紀初的法國被擴散與翻譯(translation),進入到公共衛生學家、醫生、政府官員、社會大眾的各個領域,接受他的細菌理論。吳泉源教授認為,這本書書名 The Pasteurization of France 應該要翻成《巴斯德主義的勝利》;我覺得這個講法很棒。勝利同時傳達著戰事、戰爭在進行的意味。如果更誇張地說,也許可以翻成《巴斯德主義的凱旋》。凱旋除了與戰爭勾連之外,也意味著法國與凱旋門。(但是 Pasteurization 同時也意味著巴斯德消毒法,以攝氏 75 度煮沸 2-3 秒;這個意義就比較難同時放進中文的譯名中了,是一個遺珠之憾。)

Latour 的立場可以透過這一段引述來更加釐清:

The exact sciences elude social analysis not because they are distant or separated from society, but because they revolutionalize the very conception of society and of what it comprises. Pasteurism is an admirable example. The few sociological explanations are feeble compared with the strictly sociological master stroke of the Pasteurians and their hygienist allies, who simply redefined the social link by including the action of the microbes in it. We cannot reduce the action of the microbe to a sociological explanation, since the action of the microbe redefined not only society but also nature and the whole caboodle.
精確科學(The exact sciences)之所以逃脫傳統社會分析,不是因為他們距離社會遙遠、與社會有所隔離,而是因為這些科學革命性地推翻了社會的概念、改變了社會二字所包含的內容。巴斯德主義是一個令人讚嘆的例子。少數社會學的解釋相較於巴斯德派人士與其衛生專家的同盟之嚴格社會學大師般的作法來說,實在很虛弱。巴斯德派人士與他們的衛生專家同盟,藉由將細菌的行動收納進來,單純地重新定義了社會連結。我們不能將細菌的行動化約成為社會學的解釋,因為細菌的行動不只重新定義了社會、也同時定義自然與全部的一切。

…In redefining the social link as being made up everywhere of microbes, Pasteurians and hygienists regained the power to be present everywhere. …In the great upheaval of late nineteen-century Europe, they redefine what society is made up of, who acts and how, and they become the spokesmen for these new innumerable, invisible, and dangerous agents.
…巴斯德派人士與衛生專家藉由無所不在的細菌、重新定義所構成的社會連結,重新取得了他們在每一個角落佔有一席之地的權力….在 19世紀晚期歐洲的大興起中,他們重新定義了社會由何組成、誰在其中又如何地扮演著重要角色,以及最後成為這些新的無數看不見摸不到,而且危險無比的行動者的正式發言人。

這就是重點:為了要創造(細菌,或者其他)技術物的社會學,我們需要一個包含著技術物在其中的社會才能達成。

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