“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I find it ironic that the so-called Copernican turn in philosophy since Kant achieved precisely the opposite effect of the actual Copernican turn. It made humans central to the cosmos.

The greatness of the actual Copernican turn was its humiliation of the human.


Christian Evensen said...

"The greatness of the actual Copernican turn was its humiliation of the human."

Meilassoux wants it otherwise (or really it's Rémi Brague). In the first note for the final chapter for After Finitude it stands:

"Contrary to what is often claimed, the end of Ptolemaic astronomy does not mean that humanity felt itself humiliated because it could no longer think of itself as occupying the centre of the world. In actuality, the centrality of the earth was then considered to be a shameful rather than glorious position in the cosmos - a kind of sublunary rubbish dump. On this point cf. Rémi Brague (2004), The Wisdom of the World: The Human Experience of the Universe in Western Thought, tr. T. Lavender Fagan (Chicago: Chicago University Press). The successive upheavals brought about by the mathematization of nature are better understood as resulting from the loss of every privileged point of view and from the dissolution of the ontological hierarchization of places."

Timothy Morton said...

Physicists agree that "the loss of every privileged point of view" is precisely what Copernicus contributed to.

Henry Warwick said...

Balance this against the anthropic principle, where the very existence of the universe depends on a particular species of bipedal mammals who have the brains to invent bow ties and the stupidity to wear them.