Kieth Peterson’s lecture on Bruno Latour’s anti-revolutionary claim has several flaws. A significant flaw in Peterson’s research is that the core few writings he based most of his work on are French. Philosophy is an important discipline in French culture and French philosophers are given a celebrity status in French culture. However, the French think much differently than Americans in the US. I understand Latour’s use of the word Westerners to be broader than Americans, but he seemed to be making grave implications about Americans. Latour’s claim that Westerner’s have never been modern is false. Modernity is a state of time, but not a specific date(s) in time. It is the present to Westerners. Modernity is not specifically 1990 to 2020. It is constantly with us because we are constantly changing. We are in a state of modernity as long as we are recognizing flaws. Flaws are recognized every day in social, economic, political, institutional, etc. systems. We are in modern times because we recognize (specifically speaking in the US here) that all people should vote, women are equal to men, vaccines are important, improve weather technology to try to warn people ahead of time of bad weather, etc. These advancements are not what make us modern, but the fact that we are making advancements. Revolutions don’t necessarily reflect modernity, but one that does was the scientific revolution. It changed the though process and approach to science that has inspired today’s science. We draw from the past, but as long as we are recognizing it is the past and continue to advance, then we are modern.
Peterson also made the remark that Westerners are not tribal but others still are. How can we not be tribal, but also not be modern? It is considered that each culture to have experienced a time of tribal, so if we are not tribal anymore then we must have advanced in some manner. If we have advanced then we are modern. Therefore, yes we are modern and are not tribal. However, others are not tribal just because we are modern. Modernity depends on the state of the society. We could be more advanced than another society, but we are not more modern as that is a state of being advanced. If a society is more advanced than a different society, that does not mean the other society is tribal solely because it is less advanced. That society could be modern for that society. Without tracking the progress and gauging the current state of the society, can one only conclude if it is tribal or modern. If we are in a state of modernity, then we are revolutionary. Not every aspect about is constantly revolutionary, but for us to be modern we are advancing in some way, which means we as a society is constantly revolutionary for us to be in a state of modernity.