Conflicts of planetary proportions – a conversation between Bruno Latour & Dipesch Chakarbarty

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Conflicts of planetary proportions – a conversation between Bruno Latour & Dipesch Chakarbarty application/pdf icon
2020

Who needs a philosophy of history? A proposition followed by a response from Dipesh Chakrabarty
Forthcoming in the special issue “Historical Thinking and the Human”, Journal of the Philosophy of History 14 (3), 2020, eds. Marek Tamm and Zoltán Boldizsár Simon

Abstract

The background of my piece is that Chakrabarty’s introduction of the Planetary triggered a seism in philosophy of history: if the Planetary emerges so late then all the other moments of what used to be called “history” are taking place on a ground that has lost its stability. Neither the World, nor the Globe, nor the Earth, nor the Global — to take a few of the steps he recorded — are actually the places where humans reside. Hence the deep suspicion projected backward as to why the distance separating the places the Moderns inhabited from those they thought they were inhabiting was not recognized earlier. A deep source of inauthenticity is revealed every time we engage more thoroughly in the Anthropocene. Geohistory breaks down any claim to have a human-oriented history. Hence the new ground for critique that is provided by realizing we live in the well named critical zone. Just at the time that critique had lost its steam, the simple fact of being violently transported onto the critical zone gave a new edge to a ferocious revision of Modernity. The civilization that had claimed to be the discoverer of the world was now dispersed over many incommensurable “planets” — the Planetary being one of the names for our present situation. The aim of this piece and of Chakrabarty’s response is to give a spatial and geopolitical ground to counteract the notion of the arrow of time implied so far by philosophies of history.