1st Edition

Gabriel Tarde The Future of the Artificial

By David Toews Copyright 2022
    128 Pages
    by Routledge

    128 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book presents the core ideas of early sociologist Gabriel Tarde and suggests a new pathway for sociology based on his foundational work. Rejecting anthropocentrism, Tarde highlights the contrast between the natural and the artificial, uniquely emphasizing the positive significance of the artificial in an age in which people have come to distrust it profoundly. Recovering Tarde’s theory today in the context of contemporary as well as classical scholarship and recognizing how it fits with such phenomena as quantum physics and digital media, this book develops the concept of the cosmological imagination as the context for a critical Tardian analysis of artifice that can bring together what we know about our contemporary future-oriented global societies.

    How we know the universe, our place in it, the place of other animals and objects in it, our global socialities, our human claims of power and privilege within it, are pointed questions Tarde asks as he wonders whether a future temporality conducive to constant artifice has become our normal human way of life. Considering our ambivalence about modern products and modernity in general, our thinking about the future, and our tendency to forget what nature used to signify in its presentation of problems beyond our control, such as illnesses and epidemics, Gabriel Tarde: The Future of the Artificial demonstrates the reasons for which we need to return to Tarde’s work to rediscover its relevance for public debate as we seek to think through the new era and its societies in which culture and nature are no longer distinct.

    This book will appeal to scholars of social and political theory with interests in our digital age, new sociologies of materials and objects, neomonadology, and the thought of Gabriel Tarde.

    Prologue – Anti-prediction


    Ch. 1 – The Rise of the Artificial

    Ch. 2 – A Sociology of the Cosmos

    Ch. 3 – The Artifice of the Self

    Ch. 4 – Digital Mediation

    Ch. 5 – The Return of Nature

    Ch. 6 – Imagining the Future

    Works Cited


    David Toews is a senior tutor and course coordinator in the School of English and Media Studies at Massey University, New Zealand. He is the author of Social Life and Political Life in the Era of Digital Media.

    ‘In this fine and accessible book, Toews not only presents some of the key themes of Tarde’s sociological program, but he also demonstrates how they might be brought into conversation with contemporary debates. This includes showing how Tarde’s work can serve to readdress questions of nature. By combining historical examinations with present-day theoretical concerns, this books offers an at once useful and important contribution.’ Christian Borch, author of Social Avalanche