Does Latourian inquiry into modes of existence enable us to understand values and their role in our lives?
I analyse the new book by Bruno Latour: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. An Anthropology of the Moderns, in which he talks about undertaking an inquiry into values in order to contribute to “planetary negotiation”. Alas, his view of values is under-elaborated and raises many serious doubts. The postulate of overcoming the fact–value opposition leads to the reduction of values to facts; the universalist understanding of values rises questions, for instance: in what sense everything in the world,“from von Uexküll’s tick to Pope Benedict XVI, and even Magritte’s pipe,” evaluates, i.e., undertakes moral responsibility, has scruples, looks for an optimum. Unsatisfied with Latour’s account I offer a different perspective for considering values: a perspective of hermeneutic cultural ontology, in which values are not reduced to facts and remain tied to humans though not as their aims or desired states of affair. It is being, primarily human being, that has an axiological (ethical, aesthetical, cognitive etc.) dimension.