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Diplomatic Writing Workshop, 21-25 July 2014, Paris - Schedule

21 July 2014
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The diplomatic writing workshops will summarize the project's three years of objections, revisions, and additions in order to draft a "spec-book" (cahier des charges), which will be submitted during the Final Evaluation Conference by the diplomats (chargés d'affaires). Organized with the Centre de sociologie de l'innovation (École des Mines).

Find below the Draft Document (in French) and
its translation (thanks to Michael L. Thomas)

AIME Final Workshop

21-29 July 2014

Program for Mediators and Participating Co-Inquirers

-Draft Document-

Pg. 2


Pg. 3

Summary and Overview of the Program

[chart] Diplomatic writing workshop
Lunch and Break

Objective: To release a Diplomatic Specbook by Friday night, which will be evaluated by the Diplomats during the final conference.

Detailed program pg. 4
The Essential 10 points pg. 5
Location: Les Mines, Jardin du Luxembourg pg. 6
Essential Questions and Answers pg. 7
Appendices pg. 15

[chart] Final Evaluation Conference
Mon 28 Tues 29
Council of Diplomats

Pg. 4

Detailed Program
Diplomatic Writing Workshop

Monday, July 21

9:30 - Welcome, coffee, introduction of participants
10:30 - Introduction by Bruno Latour
11:00 - Protocol for the Diplomatic Week
11:10 - Presentation of Project Archives
11:20 - Presentation of Web Platform
11:30 - Summary of Mediator Workshops
12:30 - Summary of Contributions

Lunch Break

- Creation of Workgroups - First round of “intramodal” work

Tuesday July 22

9:30 - Welcome and Coffee
10:00 - Introduction: Establish the Agenda, i.e. the key points of tension for the morning/day
10:30 - Intermodal Encounters Workshop
12:30 - Quick Report of Grievances/Objections

Lunch Break

- Plenary Discussion - 18:30 - Specbook report

Wednesday July 23

9h30 - Welcome and Coffee
10:00 - Introduction: Establish the Agenda, i.e. the priority points of tension for the morning/day
10:30 - Intermodal Encounters (Crossings?) Workshop
12:30 - Quick Report of Grievances/Objections

lunch break ...etc. Repeats on Thursday July 24th

Friday July 25th

meme chose except

14h-17h Finalization
- Final Discussion - Ratification of Specbook by Concerned Parties

pg. 5

Understanding the “goal of the game” in 10 points

  1. The goal is to conclude AIME: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence, a collective inquiry into the Moderns articulated through a book, online platform, and a series of 24 workshops organized since 2012.

  2. It is a matter of presenting ourselves as Moderns before the authority—in whatever form that will take—of Gaia. ( see page 7 of this document)

  3. The question which concerns us: Which beings do we truly hold dear, we other Moderns? How can we speak well of our different values?

  4. We are going to write a 30-50 pg. document together from Monday the 21st to Friday the 25th and submit it to the Diplomats who will examine it on the 28th and 29th of July ( see page 8-9).

  5. We are not re-writing the book in its current form. We are rewriting the specifications of the most disputed modes and crossings. This is why the format of the document under production is called a “Specbook” (see page 8).

  6. Our source is the material collected in the 24 AIME workshops and in the contributions to the site Thus, participation during the week requires a strong familiarity with the project, an understanding of the archives, and advanced preparation of a “re-writing file” which anticipates the writing of the Specbook for the being to which you are bound.

  7. The meetings have a diplomatic status. The modes of existence are in a conflict tied to the irruption of Gaia. It is a matter of negotiating the manner of speaking of the beings we hold dear with militants of other modes (see pg. 10).

  8. We must keep in mind the dramatic heterogeneity of each crossing, and, as a consequence, the heterogeneity of the work accomplished during the 24 AIME workshops which have taken place.

  9. The diplomatic workshops will gather 30 - 40 persons: The AIME team, the mediators, their attachés, militants, and co-inquierers selected during the project.

  10. The entire week is a simulation to be taken seriously, a “serious metaphysical game.” Each participant should give a voice to the mode(s) which make them militant so as to avoid returning them to a “Third-World” status. Each person should steer clear of crossings where it seems that the dramatic tension might be toned down or pass in silence.

pg. 6

Setting: l’Ecole des Mines…..

The diplomatic writing workshops will unfold at l’Ecole des Mines, the space reserved for the AIME project situated on the Jardin du Luxembourg, at the heart of Paris. The terraces and gardens of ‘Ecole will be at your disposal.

pg. 7

Some Questions and Answers (FAQ)

1) What is the “imaginary diplomatic scene” of the program?

All of the diplomatic discussions of the week are placed under the constraint of Gaia. It is a new regime of necessity which unveils itself, and which requires a new form of diplomacy. We ought to proceed to the “call to arms” of modernity as an introduction to An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence in constructing the story:
- Which imaginary diplomatic scene? – “One which would gather the former Moderns and former others to approach Gaia. Where the Moderns present themselves anew to the rest of the world, but this time in finally knowing the “good” that they hold dear!” (pg 25). - Negotiate in the name of whom? - It is a matter of “acting as if the moderns had not succeeded, this time in theory, in finding a manner of respecting their own values. Said differently, they are not invested in the design of the ensemble of their values as much as the energy which they have put into discovering one after another in practice. It is not simply that the Moderns would be divided as the “White men with forked tongues” It is rather that, encumbered by their treasures, they have never had the occasion to clearly specify what they truly hold dear.” (pg. 26) - Negotiate with whom? “This fiction of the embarrassment of riches in no way aims to show the innocence of the Moderns…It has as its object, rather, to propose a semi-realist description of what one could call the modern adventure of no longer confounding it - for better or for worse – with the advent of a modernization front. If it is truly a war, then one declares and mostly defines its goals or finally knows how to stop it. This descriptive project is useful in itself since it allows us, if it was done correctly, to find a standard for comparative anthropology, which should no longer be delusional (the advent of reason), and which should no longer be the negative version or simply a critique of this very modernization. But it has another utility: in finally knowing this “we” from top to bottom - and thus also what we can become with the “others” before the new horizon of Gaia.” (pg. 27)

2) What is the philosophical objective? What is the goal of the game?

The fundamental question is: How to present ourselves to Gaia? The book has permitted the start of a vast collective inquiry of the Moderns on themselves. The objective of the week is to arrive on Friday the 25th with a new version of the report contained in the book An Inquiry into Modes of Existence - a report which will be released for examination by symbolic recipients, the diplomats, This new version of Modernity will be given in the form of a report of around 50 pages, the Specbook, produced in the framework of a diplomatic exercise of a limited time.

3) What are the constraints, the givens of the problem?

  • To write in a collective fashion: the AIME team and mediators, their attaches, and the selected co inquirers.
  • To submit for a symbolic objective the ratification of a document Friday night, after 5 days of writing.
  • To consider the 12 +3 modes.
  • To consider the heterogeneity of the 105 crossings
  • To consider the 3 principle sources of writing work:
  • The book: Bruno Latour An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. La Decouverte, 2012. 500 pages.
  • The archives of the AIME workshops, available on the drive.
  • The contributions and documents presented on the platform

4) What should the “Specbook” released to the diplomats on Monday the 28th look like?

The Specbook is a prosaic and illustrative way of designing the book through which the Moderns are going to identify the character of the beings they truly hold dear. The format is a matter of specification, or definition of propositions characteristic of a technical object. The Specbook will contain both the summary of points that were the objects of consensus and dissenting opinions under the form of different “statements of disagreement.” It will be built from a catalog of revisions which are considered to be the most important and most urgent by the co-inquirers mobilized over the course of the three years of the project. It is a document which will be evaluated by the Diplomats of Gaia.

5) Who are the members of the Committee of Diplomats of Gaia assembled on July 28th and 29th?

  • Barbara Cassin, French philologist and philosopher, Director of Research at CNRS, author of L’effet sophistique (1995).

  • Dipesh Chakrabarty (via videoconference), Bengali Historian at University of Chicago, author of Provincializing Europe (2000).

  • Annemarie Mol, Dutch anthropologist and philosopher at University of Twente, author of The Body Multiple: ontology in medical practice (2002).

  • Simon Schaffer, British historian and philosopher of science at University of Cambridge, author of Leviathan and the air-pump (1985).

  • Peter Sloterdijk (scheduled to attend), German Philosopher and essayist, author of the Spheres trilogy (1998-2004).

  • Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Brazilian anthropologist at National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, author of Metaphysiques cannibales (2009).

  • Peter Weibel, Austrian artist, instructor and director of the ZKM Center for Art and Media de Karlsruhe since 1999.


  • Deborah Danowski, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Filosofia, Faculty Member

  • Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE)

6) What role do the diplomats play during the 28th and 29th of July?

The diplomats of Gaia represent a future authority. They are the symbolic recipients of the account of the inquiry that the Moderns have rendered of themselves. Collectively, they play the role of diplomats of Gaia. They are, thus, the persons who are going to read the “Specbook.” They have agreed to receive, a little solemnly, the diplomatic propositions that another group composed of mediators and co-inquirers who have been most involved in the project have composed the preceding week, from the 21st to the 25th of July.

The diplomats will read this document submitted on July 25th at 5pm. The situation in which this report is submitted to them is analogous to that of the representatives of the 4 powers which came together in March 1919 to react to the different projects prepared by different committees who reorganized the maps of Europe. With the exception that the issue is no longer to redefine the frontiers and account for the nationalities, but to account for the evolution of values and ontological pluralism at the moment of Gaia’s arrival. Thus, the diplomats of Gaia will situate their reading of the Specbook under the slogan “Reset Modernity,” which describes this general and reflexive attempt at a re-description of the Moderns by themselves. “Reset” signifies at the same time restoring, recomposing, resetting, and restarting. This is simultaneously the title of the AIME team’s exposition, which will be organized in 2015 at the ZKM in collaboration with Peter Weibel.

7) What is the foundation of their evaluation of the report?

Because the diplomatic model is that of the “Middle Ground” (White), each diplomat must present their evaluation of the report that the Moderns tried to render of themselves in their manner and according to own their point of view. This is why the Committee of diplomats is constituted of members representing the different fashions of making our point of view of the Moderns vary. Without being mandated by Gaia herself, of course, they nonetheless represent different modalities of constituting a “point of exteriority” vis-a-vis the collective which presents itself before Gaia.

They must evaluate and critique the “Specbook” with as much force as they like. Their task will be to explain their disagreements as clearly and freely as possible. The declarations of the CA will be the foundation of a new cycle of negotiations of the project which will be able to begin later (in the framework of a possible prolongation of the ERC.)

8) How will the Diplomats structure their critiques?

As recipients of the report, the CA are truly allowed to organize the diplomatic scene of the project. Said differently, their critiques do not situate themselves in the epistemic framework of academic meetings, but in the framework of a diplomatic negotiation between collectives called to populate Gaia in a supportable way. In this way, the questions to be put to different passages of the Specbook will not be “Are these scientific statements correct?” (which is not what it is about anyway), but rather “Is it a text which produces a viable diplomatic framework for meeting Gaia?” This change of tone is the central idea of the project.

9) What is the relationship between the book and the Specbook?

This question centers on the relationship between the new report and the book prepared in 2012. The relationship is extremely strong since An Inquiry into Modes of Existence is the point of departure for these two meetings: it offers a theoretical framework, the conceptual infrastructure of the metaphysical negotiation and intellectual project. Nevertheless, it is important that the two meetings, the diplomatic workshops and final conference, insofar as they reassemble some actors around a revisionary project, can free themselves from the constraints of the book, and similarly from its conceptuality or its “metalanguage” - each time the negotiations demand it.

10) What is the philosophy of the diplomatic process?

Our philosophy of diplomacy does not yet exist, it is under construction. It’s entirely in the experimental sense of this inquiry and of the new events which will conclude it. We are constrained to invent it. Nevertheless, we can already specify that we are maneuvering between three tensions:

  • The first tension positions itself between the situation of conflict and the objective of composing a common world. On one side, we must place ourselves in a situation of a diplomatic “serious game.” Notably, this makes reference to our model for thinking about our situation, namely the “Middle Ground” described by Richard White. In his eponymous book, he recounts the dislocation of the majority Algonquin world to the west of the Iroquois, and the expulsion of its last fragments through the west by the Iroquois. “Generally, people beaten like this disappear from history,” White writes, “this was not the case for a large part of the Algonquin. Indeed, on the contrary,” he continues, “they reconstructed a new world in the middle of the debris of the old.” The French and Algonquin needed one another to resist the Iroquois confederation which was first allied to Holland, then England. They drew upon the images that they made of one another, under constraint, and focused on what the author calls the “Middle Ground.” Then, on the other hand, it is crucial not to put too much emphasis on “conflict” as the source of the diplomatic situation. Indeed, even if we assume conflict situations are tied to the hegemonic drive which each mode carries with it up to the irruption of Gaia, then the object of the Inquiry is certainly to “end the war” (Inquiry, Introduction pg. 27), in order to compose a common world. (cf. question 14, pg. 13 of this document).

  • Next, during the week we must clearly enter a process of abstraction and increasing generality all while staying very vigilant with respect to a formalist pitfall, which would force us to lose the dramatic intensity of each situation. On the one hand, the increasing metaphysical generality is necessary to elaborate the conceptual tools (crossings, modes), which allow us to see that an analogous operation works itself out when we claim: to be a boson does not signify the same thing as being a table, otherwise the table which I am writing on could exist in two distinct relations at the same time; I do not kiss cellular tissues, but lips, even though I should be ready for what the oncologist would see only as a histological object. As Patrice Maniglier says, “Why not generalize the argument? What one says of tables, why not say it of angels?” Nevertheless, on the other hand, we must be vigilant with respect to the fact that the conceptual apparatus of the inquiry can crush the dramatic specificity of each “crossing.” AIME ought to account simultaneously for the positive, historical, and political specificity of problems that it should map rather than construct abstractly. Said differently, it is up to us to insure that we inhabit each problem without evoking false problems - a risk Didier Debaise warns us against in following Whitehead who denounces the problem of “misplaced concreteness.” Without this, the large “table of crossings” of the Inquiry plays precisely the same game as its enemy, and would transform itself into a terrible war machine to crush the difference in tonality, in adopting a standardizing treatment for all the crossings.

  • Finally, we ought to be vigilant vis-a-vis a turning point to work on, for the AIME team itself and all its collaborators between the 24 AIME workshops and the final diplomatic meetings. The turning point is the following: it is a matter of passing from a descriptive principle corresponding to the anthropological dimension of the Inquiry to a prescriptive regime corresponding to its diplomatic status. We are no longer in the situation where it is uniquely a matter of describing things well, it is now a matter of knowing what rulings we ought to make in the reinstitution of crossings and of modes in order to better compose a common world before Gaia. Here, one can use an imperfect metaphor: Everyone has to pack their bags, with crossings and modes, to fly Gaia’s airplane within reasonable weight limits.

11) What will be the synoptic tool adopted to conduct the negotiations concretely?

In the image of air traffic controllers who avoid cognitive overload by monitoring airplanes through models, we can have recourse, as Vincent Lepinay has proposed, to an apparatus analogous to George Didi-Huberman’s “table of materials.” Inasmuch as the book itself cannot always constitute a useful and effective support for negotiation, we must resort to a “proxy” which, notably, will be taken care of by Pierre Jullian de la Fuente - and which will combine the advantage of two entries of “Inquiry” and “Crossings” from the site for our benefit (see the screen shots on page 16 of this document).

In addition to this first function of cognitive economy, this dispositif will also have two other decisive functions. The first is the broadcasting, public and in real time, of the state of advancement of the writing of the Specbook. The second is the possibility of access, at each moment, to an arsenal of documentation collected by the inquiry, for each grievance presented in the prewriting dossiers and discussed in meetings.

12) What will be the role of the Mediators?

The team of mediators collectively assumes a role of expertise on the collected material and the discussions provoked by the inquiry. Having contributed to the organization of 24 AIME workgroups, and taken responsibility for moderating nearly 200 contributions received on line, their role will thus be central to the process of negotiations. They will be on call with material from the beginning of the week.

Each mediator calls to the table of negotiations: 1 to 2 “militants” of beings they represent, two “attachés of modes.” One can be a master of the Inquiry, the other can be familiar enough to be capable of playing, as this was often the case during the workshops, the role of “entry level militant”, as they say. One and the same person can perfectly assume the role of militant and of expert. Whomever it be, these two roles guarantee the tension between metaphysics and the empirical which allows the success of the Inquiry: this will be respected and articulated precisely in its general pluralist project, but our negotiations will unfold under a constraint or a guarantee of empiricism, allowing us to correctly understand the proper tonality of each mode.

The mediator and his or her attaché will arrive at the table of negotiations with a prewriting dossier, a sort of notebook of metaphysical grievances. This dossier preempts the Specbook under a documented form, both local and ideal. “Documented” because it bases its different points on a document, an objection, or a contribution collected by AIME. Local because it is only concerned with the areas of the inquiry of which the mediator is a specialist. Ideal because it precedes the stage of negotiations where it is going to be a matter of negotiating with the representatives of other modes and crossings under the constraint of Gaia- the stage during which we must all make concessions.

Said differently, each mediator selects and recaps the “hot topics”, the grievances, protests recorded by the Inquiry - which are the points on which the text has revealed itself to be fallible. It would be good, at the end of the diplomatic strategy, to settle on a presentation of a document which specifies 1) the negotiable points 2) the points with room to maneuver or narrow redefinition, and 3) the points that are non-negotiable.

13) Who are the present mediators who will ensure diplomatic protocol?

  • Pierre-Laurent Boulanger - young philosopher at The University Paris Ouest Nanterre working on sports and new forms of subjectivity, coordinates the work of the mediators and co-inquirers of AIME

  • Francois Cooren, director of the department of communication of the University of Montreal, his research has redefined organized action through crossing ethnomethodology and science studies, he is attached to a vast continent of Economy.

  • Didier Debaise, philosopher at l’Universite Libre de Bruxelles, specialist in Whitehead, cofounder of GECo with Isabelle Stengers , he brings an indispensable guarantee on fundamental questions of anthropology and metaphysics to the AIME project. He works in collaboration with Nicolas Prignot, physicist and philosopher at l’Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Masters in art and experimentation at Sciences Po, specialist in Felix Guattari and the philosophy of nature for the Inquiry, and Aline Wiame, author of a dissertation in philosophy on “defiguration” as a conceptual operator between theater and philosophy, post-doctoral fellow at the B.A.E.F. (Belgian American Educational Foundation) at Penn State University.

  • Milad Doueihi, historian of religion and chair of Digital Cultures at The University of Laval in Quebec. He is responsible for the mode of [FIC], [TEC], and digital humanities of the Inquiry.

  • Vincent Lepinay, l’ENS, l’Ecole des Mines, and Columbia University, sociologist of economy at Medialab Sciences-Po, he brings a fine knowledge of the economic anthropology of Tarde and the world of finance to AIME.

  • Noortje Marres, professor at Goldsmith’s University of London, comes from the Dutch school of “science studies,” Noortje has played a decisive role in the development of the Inquiry on all of its political questions.

  • Patrice Maniglier, philosopher from l’Universite Paris Ouest Nanterre, specialist in Saussure and LEvi-Strauss, has joined this project as an “observer-participant” of the diplomatic protocol of AIME.

*14) What are the political stakes in the AIME project? *

It is a matter of learning to compose a common world. Despite the pluralist framework giving this aim a difficult entry point, …especially more acceptable for other civilizations which are also struck by the same realisation: there is no earth to modernize “ the old way.” It is necessary to look again at what we understand by this term in learning to inherit from the modernization project as we compose everything differently.

15) Crossings, modes, values: How do we define the vocabulary at the base of the Inquiry?

Values - The Inquiry rests on the delicate extraction of a series of “values” - an intentionally outdated word - which the Moderns claim to hold dear. But without ever being sure of what they signify, nor how one can promote them while at the same time respecting their differences and being suspicious of the tendency to erase the others.

Crossings - To repair these differences, we have put in place a simple protocol which rests on the experience produced by the clash between two values. This clash reemerges each time one judges a value by using a measuring stick of another value. To recreate such incidents, we will create a base of givens that we call a crossing because it allows us to make two types of judgments stick out.

Types of Veridiction - To work consistently with such a collection of givens, one must realize that it is possible to distinguish little by little some types of incommensurable truth. In the beginning this will appear troubling and lead straight into “relativism.” Except if one sees that each type of veridiction - the term allows us to avoid the overly weighty term “truth” - explains the meetings with the very different forms of existence to one another. It is the diversity of these forms that the inquiry proposes to deploy. This is why it is a matter of the anthropology of the Moderns. We want to do for them what they have done for other cultures. Except that it was indeed difficult to understand the others in absence of a poorly realized description of ourselves.

Modes of existence - There are the forms that we call “modes of existence”, a banal term which takes on a special sense. When one speaks in the common language of modes of existence of a group or of an individual, on refers to their mores, their manner of being, its ethnology, in some way its habitat, its holy ground, and its comfort. In this inquiry, one retains all the connotations in this term, but one gives a stronger sense to the terms “mode” and “existence” which does not direct attention through human groups or individuals, but through the beings through which the humans interrogate themselves. The word “being” ought not to unsettle us: it is another way of responding to the question, “what is, for example, the law or religion or science?”, “Which do you hold dear?”, and “how can we begin to speak well of it with you?”

The stages of the inquiry - We have detected 15 of these modes of existence at the moment. We have thus tried to know if the values which we have extracted correspond to the experience of readers or not. Then, we wanted to know if the account that we have given of them was acceptable and, if it was not, how we could change it, and starting from which documents. Lastly is the stage which now opens the events of our provisional conclusion: we would like to know if it is possible to propose an alternative version of this incredibly vague term “modernization”

After the stage of readers and co-inquirers, we have passed to the stage of negotiators.


Bruno Latour, Christophe Leclercq, Barbara Bender, Pierre Jullian de la Fuente, Pierre-Laurent Boulanger, Robin de Mourat, Donato Ricci, Agathe Nieto, Louise Laroche, Cormac O'Keeffe, Stephen Muecke, Milad Doueihi, Vincent Lépinay, Martin Giraudeau, Patrice Maniglier, François Cooren, Daniel Robichaud, Consuelo Vasquez, Gérard de Vries, Didier Debaise, Nicolas Prignot, Aline Wiame, Pablo Jensen, Isabelle Stengers, Pierre Montebello, Philip Conway, Pierre-Yves Condé, Antoine Hennion, Louis Morelle, Nastassja Martin, Baptiste Gille, Emmanuel Grimaud

Unable to come: Emma Aubin-Boltanski, Guillaume Yon, Dorothea Heinz, Richard Janda.

The research has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC Grant ‘IDEAS’ 2010 n° 269567

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