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A Cosmopolitical Proposal: Towards a Democratic Composition of Environments
Unformatted Document Text:  47 rethought understanding of scientific practices presented above, as well as the self-professed uncertainty inherent to a growing amount of scientific ‘facts,’ cosmopolitical practices must create the environment in which they can exist from the existing and novel entities and practices that are available to it. Nature and the guaranteed facts it offered are no longer available, requiring a more provisional, tentative cosmopolitical formation, built up among other practices, entities, and relations. As a type of action, cosmopolitical practices will always exceed its act in themselves as well as exceed the entity that performed the action. 103 An action’s effect is never within the control of the actor who performs it, interrupting and altering a string of effects that commenced before the actor acted and that will continue long after. An entity is necessarily changed by such an act, altering the relations it has with the other entities it shares its existence with, those who constitute it as an entity and the relations it entails. Cosmopolitical practices are not a rationalistic attempt to micromanage the consequences of every single action, but to act with the knowledge of the risk involved and to take that into account when acting. Scientific knowledge serves as one of the constitutive factors in determining the risk involved in a particular act, constituting what we think is possible, probable, and likely. Accepted as uncertain but still legitimate, the results of scientific practices ripple through participants in a political environment, changing their way of existing and what they thought could do and believe previously. Cosmopolitical practices form the basis of any environmental politics, in that these are efforts to rethink the existing status of human-nonhuman relations. The ideological and 103 This is what I understand Stengers to mean when she describes the event of scientific creation: an entity or practice is created in the laboratory or field, but it takes on a life of its own, requiring no human intervention or support to prove its existence and effects. See Stengers’ Invention of Modern Science, 57-70, and Latour’s Pandora’s Hope, 280-292.

Authors: Nordquist, Michael.
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47
rethought understanding of scientific practices presented above, as well as the self-professed
uncertainty inherent to a growing amount of scientific ‘facts,’ cosmopolitical practices must
create the environment in which they can exist from the existing and novel entities and practices
that are available to it. Nature and the guaranteed facts it offered are no longer available,
requiring a more provisional, tentative cosmopolitical formation, built up among other practices,
entities, and relations.
As a type of action, cosmopolitical practices will always exceed its act in themselves as
well as exceed the entity that performed the action.
An action’s effect is never within the
control of the actor who performs it, interrupting and altering a string of effects that commenced
before the actor acted and that will continue long after. An entity is necessarily changed by such
an act, altering the relations it has with the other entities it shares its existence with, those who
constitute it as an entity and the relations it entails. Cosmopolitical practices are not a
rationalistic attempt to micromanage the consequences of every single action, but to act with the
knowledge of the risk involved and to take that into account when acting. Scientific knowledge
serves as one of the constitutive factors in determining the risk involved in a particular act,
constituting what we think is possible, probable, and likely. Accepted as uncertain but still
legitimate, the results of scientific practices ripple through participants in a political
environment, changing their way of existing and what they thought could do and believe
previously.
Cosmopolitical practices form the basis of any environmental politics, in that these are
efforts to rethink the existing status of human-nonhuman relations. The ideological and
103
This is what I understand Stengers to mean when she describes the event of scientific creation: an entity or
practice is created in the laboratory or field, but it takes on a life of its own, requiring no human intervention or
support to prove its existence and effects. See Stengers’ Invention of Modern Science, 57-70, and Latour’s
Pandora’s Hope, 280-292.


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