Cognition and Visualization or How to Think with Your Eyes and Hands

Bruno Latour



Bruno Latour’s article challenges the preconceived notions with which the scholars have approached the Great Divide between prescientific and scientific cultures. In order to account for the immense eff ects of science and technology without assuming a single grand cause for them, he suggests to focus on many, small unexpected and practical sets of skills to produce images, and to read and write about them. However, only those changes that intervene favorably in the agonistic situation in science should be considered. Crucial in this respect is the emergence of numerous “immutable mobiles” – easily transported, accumulated, combined, yet lasting objects – which made possible the mobilization of new scientific inscriptions and of new ways of looking at and presenting them. They help to constitute an optically consistent visual culture with such technologies as printing press. Their combination on the surface of paper and subsequent mobilization of allies can usher in bureaucratic mode of domination over the world and people in the scientific field. The effects of science and technology thus become essentially a question of a shift in power relations enabled by the manipulation of inscriptions.


science; power; technology; writing; visual

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: