Inside the Romanticist Episteme
AbstractMany contemporary critiques of `modernity' target a caricatured construction of `modernity-as-universalist-reason'. Such critiques are often blind to the constitutive splits and tensions within the philosophical and political horizons of modernity between a rationalist and a romanticist episteme. These critiques are therefore also oblivious to the fact that their own critiques of modernity move on a terrain heavily structured and prefigured by older romanticist critiques of reason and scientific objectivity. Some of the persistent problems in romanticist thought - the celebration of authenticity and a recurrent essentialism - reappear in current post-structuralist critiques of modernity. This is particularly evident in the debates in South Asia - emerging from the subaltern studies group in India, from debates on hybridity and migration, and on post-coloniality as a critique of Western modernity. Rather than launching essentializing and totalizing critiques of `modernity-as-universalist-reason', which tend to reproduce the metaphysical fallacies of romanticism, critiques of modernity could more fruitfully unfold as concrete critiques of modern practices and institutions.