Bruno Latour

  • passages January 13, 2015

    Ulrich Beck (1944–2015)

    THE DEATH OF ULRICH BECK is terrible news. It is a tragedy for his family, for his research team, and for his many colleagues and friends, but it is also a tragedy for European thought.

    Ulrich was a public intellectual of the infinitely rare kind in Germany, one that was thought only to exist in France. But he had a very individual way—and not at all French—of exercising this authority of thought: There was nothing of the intellectual critic in him. All his energy, his generosity, his infinite kindness, were put in the service of discovering what actors were in the midst of changing about their


    WHEN WALTER LIPPMANN (1889–1974) wrote his masterpiece The Phantom Public eighty-five years ago, he vividly demonstrated that democratic ideals were at risk. The reason lay in what we would now call globalization, a geopolitical shift that was already rendering old procedures of local and even national government obsolete. According to Lippmann, there could be no such thing as an “omniscient citizen,” that great hope of traditional democratic theory: No individual could possibly be fully informed of all the issues he—at the time, it was still very much a “he”—was supposed to tackle. And even if