Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: Movements

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17.1 visual essay



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  »  Issues Contents  2010-04-07 The watershed of modernity

The watershed of modernity: translation and the epistemological revolution



ABSTRACT From Modernity on, there has been continuity for the “West” and interruption for non-European cultures, histories and languages, for which indeed there is supposed to be only discontinuity with their own antiquity. Their own past counts as “premodern” or “traditional”, and thus as belated compared with universalised Modernity. This is so because Modernity itself is normative, and it is normative because it was universalized.  The norm of Modernity and the dignity of the modern “political” has been spread through western idioms: through the western normativity of the political, such concepts as democracy, revolution, state, republic and the like will have their patterns in “Europe” and in the “West”, while all other political concepts and terms, when contributed to a world dictionary of political terms, will denote merely exceptions. Modernity has been one of the great splits or disjunctions which froze some norms in history making them become patterns: from that time on, western modernity (first western, then “western” and finally “universal”…) has constructed an unbroken genealogical origin for its own concepts and episteme as “universal”, and has proposed/imposed them to the planet. The patterns of selection, exception and exclusion of Modernity, which posit the subject as an “autonomous” figure specular and complementary of (state) sovereignty - while referring it to the hegemonically dominant model - have not altogether disappeared today. They are merging and mutating into, and coextensive with configurations of multiple power vectors within untransparent networks of blurred and crossed hierarchies with novel and maybe more volatile forms of production, of integration and of institution, where again, although in a completely new way, collective action, the sharing and federation of knowledge transcend individual subjectivity while reaching out to both old and new forms of association.


KEYWORDS: Indian philosophy, episteme, epistemology, methodology, translation, subjectivation, normativity of concepts, the political, language, modernity


Author’s biography

Rada Iveković is a philosophy professor at the University of St. Etienne, and Programme Director at the Collège international de philosophie, Paris, France; she is member of the scholars’ network TERRA:

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