Toward a NonModern NonHumanism
This paper interrogates a history of reflection on the "two cultures problem" punctuated by the work of Jürgen Habermas, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Bruno Latour. A review of this history helps clarify the discursive conditions necessary for a "methodology of crossed views."
I begin with the Frankfurt School's critique of "instrumental reason." Habermas and others have argued that what began as science's effort to dominate nature turned into the domination of humans by humans. Fearful that scientific thinking displaced moral and aesthetic reason, Habermas calls for a reintegration of these spheres of culture. Lyotard has responded, however, that scientific knowledge, moral prescription, and aesthetic experience belong to incommensurable "language games" which do not share the same rules, and that efforts to integrate them result in a form of domination he calls "terror."
Bruno Latour contends this impasse will remain as long as we adhere to the view of the natural and human sciences as, respectively, discourses of the exclusively human and the nonhuman. A "methodology of crossed views," therefore, requires reconfiguring the natural and human sciences in ways significantly different from both their "modern" and "postmodern" forms. The nonmodern alternative suggested by Latour's "science studies" involves abandoning the ontological hermeticism typical of these discourses.