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Soundlapse: The Will to Know as a Matter of Concern


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Bocquillon, Rémy ; van Loon, Joost:
Soundlapse: The Will to Know as a Matter of Concern.
Eichstätt : Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, 2016. - 15 S. - (Eichstätter Beiträge zur Soziologie ; 8)


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As a very particular and largely marginal venture within “the Sociology of (scientific) Knowledge” Actor-Network-Theory has often been criticized for failing to properly conceptualize subjectivity. The Principle of Generalized Symmetry, it is often argued, inhibits a conception of the Subject as an active agent, involved in sense-making practices with which the “order of things” ceases to be a random collection of forces, but logically structured and understandable. At the same time, another perspective that touches upon issues related to the Sociology of Knowledge is that offered by Michel Foucault (1990). Until now however, Foucault has been predominantly invoked within the sociology of knowledge in relation to his conceptions of discourse and much less so in terms of his explorations of power and subjectivity. It is often thought that Foucault’s concept of the Subject does not invite close empirical analyses, as it is primarily the consequence of particular configurations of a historically and politically engendered dispositive.

In this paper, I wish to explore the critical issue of “the subject of knowledge” by engaging with a cross-reading between Foucault’s conception of “the Will to Know” and Latour’s conception of “Matter of Concern” as the initiation of the political, or better subjective, engagement with ordering life-worlds (what Berger and Luckmann (1966, pp. 65–109) described as “Institutionalization”) . The Will to Know offers as a means to explore the threshold of “the Subjective”. It is the moment in which “the Subject” manifests itself as engaging in action. However, Foucault refrains from explicitly locating this Will inside the individual, even if in his later works on Sexuality his conception of ethics he sometimes seems to imply just that.

By contrast, Latour (e.g. 2005, 2013) does not invoke anything close to a conception of a “Will”, be it in terms of desire or intentionality. It seems that for his version of ANT, these are mere con-tingencies that can be subsumed under the more generic notions of “interessement” and “en-rollment” (which were developed by his colleague, Michel Callon (1986)). To understand what the threshold of “the Subjective” might be for Latour, one has to engage much more empirically with concrete issues of Interessement and Enrollment. Latour himself, however, has offered us a very useful tool to help us identify these: Matter of Concern. A Matter of Concern will always have to be explicated (and here Discourse Analysis certainly comes in handy) for it to become a focal point of raising interests and generating particular modes of engagement.

By emphasizing the nietzschean (post-structuralist) inspirations of both conceptions, it becomes possible to (a) enable a sociological engagement with Foucault that is better equipped to deal with heterogeneity and thereby more adept to support empirical research within the Sociology of Knowledge whilst (b) also de-polemicizing ANT and articulate more clearly its own contributions to enhance the relevance of the Sociology of Knowledge in relation to critical (and political) questions about collectivizing subjectivity.

Weitere Angaben

Publikationsform:Projektbericht, Forschungsbericht, Gutachten
Schlagwörter:Soundlapse, Silence, Will to know, Matter of concern, Simondon
Sprache des Eintrags:Englisch
Institutionen der Universität:Geschichts- und Gesellschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät > Soziologie > Lehrstuhl für Allgemeine Soziologie und Soziologische Theorie
Schriftenreihe der KU:Eichstätter Beiträge zur Soziologie ; 8
Open Access: Freie Zugänglichkeit des Volltexts?:Ja
Titel an der KU entstanden:Ja
Eingestellt am: 15. Feb 2017 13:03
Letzte Änderung: 14. Apr 2022 11:28
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