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Sociobiophysicality, Cold War, and Critical Theor y: Human-Ecological Transformation and Contemporary Ecological Subjectivity

01 Jan 2013-

Abstractforms of life characteristic of its (capitalist) context, while remaining bound to the immediacy of the forms of appearance of that context” (Postone, 2002: 79). Regarding modern Western science, Lukacs asserts: The more highly developed it [modern science] becomes and the more scientific, the more it will become a formally closed system of partial laws. It will then find that the world lying beyond its confines, and in particular the material base which it is its task to understand, its own concrete underlying reality lies, methodologically and in principle, beyond its grasp. (Lukacs, 1971 [1923]: 104) Lukacs here criticizes the economist Tugan-Baranovsky’s attempts to explain production in purely quantitative terms. The formalism of bourgeois thought, according to Lukacs, has political implications: The reified world appears henceforth quite definitively—and in philosophy, under the spotlight of ‘criticism it is potentiated still further—as the only possible world, the only conceptually accessible, comprehensible world vouchsafed for us humans (...) By confining itself to the study of the ‘possible conditions’ of the validity of the forms in which its underlying existence is manifested, modern bourgeois thought bars its own way to a clear view of the problems bearing on the birth and death of these forms, and on their real essence and substratum. (Lukacs, 1971 [1923]: 110) Lukacs then works through the antinomies of bourgeois thought, as indicated by the problems and contradictions of modern Western philosophy. Here Lukacs focuses on Kant’s concept of the thing-in-itself and the more general notion that the world can be known to us to the degree to which it is created by us. Lukacs (1971 [1923]: 112) regards the latter as the defining problem of modern Western philosophy. However, Lukacs is not simply interested in the intellectual history of Western philosophy. Rather, his aim is to 90 Tugan-Baranovsky’s student, Nikolai Kondratiev, would later become well known for his theory of longterm cycles of economic expansion and contraction. It is interesting to note here the connection to Arrighi (1994), whose theory of structural transformation within the capitalist world-system, which draws heavily from Kondratiev, I critique in chapter four along lines similar to, yet distinct from, Lukacs’s critique of Tugan-Baranovsky. 85 grasp “the connection between the fundamental problems of this philosophy and the basis in existence from which these problems spring and to which they strive to return by the road of the understanding” (Lukacs, 1971 [1923]: 112). When writing about the idea that the world can be known to us to the degree to which it is created by us, Lukacs (1971 [1923]: 112) indicates that the question of “why and with what justification” we should view this human-created world as constitutive of human reason never arises. According to Lukacs, the reason this basic question never arises can be explained with reference to the intrinsic relationship between social structure and subjectivity. To put it another way, Lukacs explains that bourgeois thought exhibits a “double tendency,” which is also characteristic of bourgeois society, and that it expresses this opposition between an objective material world and subjective consciousness: On the one hand, it [bourgeois thought] acquires increasing control over the details of its social existence, subjecting them to its needs. On the other hand it loses—likewise progressively—the possibility of gaining intellectual control of society as a whole and with that it loses its own qualification for leadership. (Lukacs, 1971 [1923]: 121) Lukacs (1971 [1923]: 122) believes this problem is ultimately rooted in the division between theory and practice. Lukacs’s theory of praxis seeks to move beyond traditional subject-object epistemology. He indicates that both subject and object develop simultaneously through practice—and that this process is thoroughly dialectical. In other words, through praxis the subject both constitutes and is constituted by social structure. This practical activity, according to Lukacs, is also historically determinate. It is on this basis that Lukacs is able ground his explanation of the antinomies of bourgeois thought, particularly the opposition between objective matter and subjective consciousness, in the relationship between social structure and subjectivity, a relationship reflective of the contradictory nature of modern capitalist society: [M]an in capitalist society confronts a reality ‘made’ by himself (as a class) which appears to him to be a natural phenomenon alien to himself; he is wholly at the mercy of its ‘laws’, his activity is confined to the exploitation of the inexorable fulfillment of certain individual laws for his own (egoistic) interests. But even while ‘acting’ he remains, in the nature of the case, the object and not the subject of events. The field of his activity thus becomes wholly internalized: it consists on the one hand of the awareness of the laws which he uses and, on the other, of his awareness of his inner reactions to the course taken by events. (Lukacs, 1971 [1923]: 135)

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References
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Book
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Abstract: A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were-and still are. "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. And fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don't arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation, but that revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of "normal science," as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. This new edition of Kuhn's essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introductory essay by Ian Hacking that clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn's ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking's essay provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.

36,768 citations


"Sociobiophysicality, Cold War, and ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Following Kuhn (1962), Catton and Dunlap claimed that this supposed “impasse” signified a scientific crisis that marked the opportunity for a paradigmatic shift (i.e. environmental sociology)....

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Journal ArticleDOI

34,369 citations

Book
17 Mar 1980
Abstract: Core text in attitude courses. Explains "theory and reasoned action" model and then applies the model to various cases.

25,903 citations


"Sociobiophysicality, Cold War, and ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...The system of value measurement developed by Rokeach (1973) and Wicker (1969) has laid the foundation for the majority of empirical work on environmental values, and research based upon Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1980) theory of reasoned action, having been determined statistically valid, remains essential for analysts trying to explain the somewhat tenuous relationship between environmental values and behavior....

    [...]

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Abstract: Part I:. Introduction. The Discontinuities of Modernity. Security and Danger, Trust and Risk. Sociology and Modernity. Modernity, Time and Space. Disembedding. Trust. The Reflexivity of Modernity. Modernity and Post-- Modernity?. Summary. Part II:. The Institutional Dimensions of Modernity. The Globalizing of Modernity. Two Theoretical Perspectives. Dimensions of Globalization. Part III:. Trust and Modernity. Trust in Abstract Systems. Trust and Expertise. Trust and Ontological Security. The Pre--Modern and Modern. Part IV:. Abstract Systems and the Transformation of Intimacy. Trust and Personal Relations. Trust and Personal Identity. Risk and Danger in the Modern World. Risk and Ontological Security. Adaptive Reactions. A Phenomonology of Modernity. Deskilling and Reskilling in Everyday Life. Objections to Post--Modernity. Part V:. Riding the Juggernaut. Utopian Realism. Future Orientations. The Role of Social Movements. Post--Modernity. Part VI: . Is Modernity and Western Project?. Concluding Observations. Notes.

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