Humanist takes on planet – Chakrabarty

How a humanist – he insists on the qualification – deals with, articulates with, CC and its own generic discursive formations. Look at The Climate of History this way.

He philosophises. In the phenomenological line – Heidegger Arendt Jaspers Gadamer (should late-Adorno be included here exactly?), Schmitt another extension.*
Recourse, quite flat, to the language of ESS (Earth System Science – an interdisciplinary array from geology to –) – with now and again a discrete evocation of its function as deep historiography. (NB : I don’t remember that Spivak produced her perspective of the planetary from an inspiration outside of her disciplinary and theoretical language-game, I had read it as a straight continuation of her line of thinking about postcolonial to global and in the face of the adventing of “world literature” in the Teaching Machine. Worth going back to.) A strange, “Continental” option for a historian, and a subalternist in very particular. No wonder the book is also a working through of opposition received from his own  allies, “scholars of the Left”, Zizek of course, Ursula Heise, Ian Baucom.

Some measure of mystification : on the one hand dramatizing the emergence of the planetary as a radically unheard-of notion (when the plentiful conceptual and imaginary, multicultural reservoir around “nature” – “factor X!” – is so available for study, so ready-processed and historicized); on the other agonizing the binary of natural and human sciences as a dissociation of sensibility, with the most cursory (so far) of historicizations. This is also without an investigation, also fairly ready for the configuration, into the genealogy of the several parallel attempts, in various fields, to reimagine the articulation of the two – Simondon, Latour certainly (the reference point is solid here, and pertinent), the philosophy of science in whole lineages, Foucault also indeed (the reference is also active, if kept at arm’s length) but Canguilhem, etc. Cf Yves Gingras? History of science, also (coming to it via Paul Ward, 81 for instance, on 17th century articulations of “Nachhaltigkeit”, J von Liebieg logothète, etc.)

But then his own adventures. Take the book as a story, a testimony. What reading trajectory. Which forms of engagement. And, possibly most interesting: which institutional locations, markers and expressions? Critical Inquiry, U of Chicago Press, and … Is this the story of a historian? How is it the story of a humanist? Take.

Now reading chap. 3 : The Planet: a Humanist Category. Let’s see. Good faithful step to pose.

* tiens, la ligne est explicitée : p. 80. “A line of famous German thinkers — Spengler, Heidegger, Jaspers, Gadamer, Arendt and Schmitt among them — watched with foreboding the fast advance of global technology and feared the final ‘uprooting’ of humans, a collapse of the ever-present human project of dwelling by worlding the earth.”


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