Michel Henry casts the objectivist tendencies in modern science as an existential threat to culture. Conservative distrust toward the public face of science and vulgar relativism toward the public face of the humanities heighten this indifference, this article suggests. This environment creates a public culture that breeds antagonism between the sciences and humanities. After establishing these ideas, the authors work to separate epistemological postmodernism from metaphysical postmodernism, embracing the phenomenological and interpretative humility of the former and rejecting the latter for its antirealist and debate-ending tendencies. In this way, the discourses of objectivity and subjectivity would allow productive agonism between the humanities and sciences. The article suggests both theoretical and practical implications for a diverse set of actors in the humanities and sciences and their translators in the public sphere who use these terms and methods.
Retooling the Discourse of Objectivity: Epistemic Postmodernism as Shared Public Life
J. Aaron Simmons is an associate professor of philosophy and Brandon Inabinet is an associate professor of communication studies, both at Furman University. Members of the Shi Center for Sustainability affiliate faculty, they cotaught a course on the rhetoric of science that brought together Simmons’s scholarly work in postmodern philosophy with Inabinet’s work in the rhetoric of sustainability.
J. Aaron Simmons, Brandon Inabinet; Retooling the Discourse of Objectivity: Epistemic Postmodernism as Shared Public Life. Public Culture 1 May 2018; 30 (2): 221–243. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-4310862
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