Some gorgeous passages from Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time:
Either science must develop its own intrinsic epistemology, in which case it is a question of science and not of epistemology, or else it’s a matter of external annotation– at best redundant and useless, at worst a commentary or even publicity. (14)
…I am driven by a strong disinclination to ‘belong’ to any group, because it has always seemed to require excluding and killing those who don’t belong to the sect. I have an almost physical horror of the libidinous drive to belong. You will notice that this drive is rarely analyzed as such, since it supports all ambitions and serves up the most widespread morality. (20)
…We must define a perversion of the idea of what’s important, what’s serious. Repetition is serious in the beginning, but later it is not…. It’s only seriously during apprenticeship… Philosophy’s focus on its history can become prejudicial to the independent exercise of philosophy, although it is necessary and excellent as training. Interpretation is only the beginning of philosophy. In a certain sense, students should not stay in school. The only serious thing is invention. (22)
Technical vocabulary seems even immoral: it prevents the majority from participating in the conversation, it elimnates rather than welcomes, and further, it lies in order to express in a more complex way things that are often simple. It doesn’t necessarily lie in its content but in its form, or, more precisely, in the rules of the game it imposes. You can almost always find a lucid way to express delicate or transcendent things. (25)
Epistemology requires one to learn science in order to commentate it badly, or worse, in order to recopy it. Scientists themselves are better able to reflect on their material than the best epistemologists in the world– or at least more inventively. (29)
Until very recently, in order to get a teaching credential in philosophy, you had to have earned a certificate in one of the sciences chosen from a list that included mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology– in short, the hard or fairly hard sciences –and ethnology or prehistory, what we might call the softer or more human sciences. Those students of philosophy with no scientific training always chose to take the exam in ethnology or prehistory. This is the reason for philosophers sudden interest– the fad even –for the so-called human, or social, sciences. You [Latour] are right: great intellectual movements can often be explained by reasons springing from the sociology of science; one has only to invent an entrance exam, and the corresponding science will exist. (35)
All these things are still seen everywhere today.