Tag: modernity

Rethinking Modernity

Keith Peterson, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy from Colby gave his talk on How We Have Never Been Revolutionary. He focuses his talk on Latour, Bruno’s book We have Never Been Modern, a book that comments on science and modernity. Latour tries to relink the social and natural by arguing that modernist differentiate between nature and society which separates us from our primitive, pre modern ancestors who don’t make the same differentiation.

In our ST215 climate weather and society course we have spoken about not separating humanity from nature, its amazing to try to think if that wasn’t the case at all…its unimaginable. Humanity is a part of nature and not apart from nature. Many of who study climate change know and share the importance of how climate change shaped the new world. Thus, the history between humanity and nature is very valuable because it shines light on humanities dependence on nature making people aware that it is our atmosphere and without it, there would be no us. However, today, every day individuals, from urban areas, as an example, do not have to worry about climate shaping our lives. These individuals can live in doors with an AC if its too hot or indoors with the heat on if its too cold. Nonetheless, slowly but surely and not obviously climate affects us all.

In relation to what is happening with our climate its crazy to think that we can separate humanity from nature. The ozone debate, global warming, deforestation, even the idea of black holes shows the connection between one and the other. The prospect of keeping nature and culture separate is all mental. Latour suggests, we should rethink our distinctions and rethink the definition and composition of modernity itself, the nature/culture contrast is no longer possible.

Keith Peterson brings up another point of discussion that involves theorist Bruno Latour’s opinion on people thinking of ourselves as “revolutionary” and how this can actually be a central myth of Modernity. Latour hopes to prove that we in fact “have never been Modern,” which would support that people have not been revolutionary. The first section of Peterson’s talk addresses the revolutionary miracle. He went on to explain that westerners definition of revolutionary depends on the relationship between nature and society, and how we interpret time, which only concerns matter and mind. He also mentions how Westerners is not a culture and the aims of the revolutions that existed are for political interest.

In all, what I have taken away from his talk is that we need to see nature and society as products of a bigger picture (human and no human actions). Everything is hybrid of nature and society.



Whose America? Revolution to Whom?

In our penultimate lecture, Professor Keith Peterson, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Colby, spoke on modernity and feminist philosophy. Although at times dense, and somewhat intimidating due to (maybe my poor understanding of philosophy) the complexity of his work, Professor Peterson addressed an issue that had yet to truly be brought up in the previous ten weeks – why do we want to be revolutionary, if at all?

Professor Peterson specifies that differentiating oneself qualifies as being revolutionary, and that often, modern revolutions create cultural divides. However, he also noted that, why are we able to credit our work as “revolutionary?” (Our, being the preceding Americans and global citizens). Professor Peterson raises an important question that we have not really explored, and that often goes unnoticed in our daily lives and in discussion? What justifies past Revolutions as actually being revolutionary, and does it matter whether or not they were revolutionary? This discussion is quite relevant and reminiscent to an ongoing conversation, related to President Trump. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again,” received backlash (for a slew of reasons, but I’ll only focus on two) throughout his campaign, for why is America not great now? American patriots and “country lovers” fought this statement, for it assumes that the people existing in it currently do not make it great. However, the greater backlash, particularly from communities who did not support President-elect Trump, resulted from the claim that “America was never great.” While of course extremely subjective, this claim falls in line with Professor Peterson’s question of whether or not “revolutions” in the past were even revolutionary? Under whose authority can we deem past revolutions as revolutions, and from whose perspective was America great? In the American revolution, European settlers arrived in the United States, free from British rule and able to create their own nation! How glorious! However, how can we immediately forget the native populations that were displaced, wronged, and even killed in the process? Is it likely these populations existing today excitingly and willfully refer to this period as “The Great American Revolution” as it is so popularly romanticized today? Similarly, do minority groups of African Americans, gays, Jews, and a number of others look to previous times in supposedly prosperous America (think late 1800’s, mid 1900’s) as America being a “great” nation? To whom was America great, and does this phrase truly deserve its place in our society today? Professor Peterson’s lecture was so valuable because it gave a perspective revolving around modernity, one that is rarely placed on the word “revolution.” This modern perspective is so important as it is impossible to understand 1776 America the same way as 2016 America, with completely different populations, standards, and even shifting values. Whose America is it, and where does revolution fit in? This is of course a question with an ever-changing answer, one that will really never have a specific answer due to varying perspectives. However, it is a question we must keep in mind when understanding revolution and subjectivity.