Futuribles Journal n° 359

Géopolitique - Société, modes de vie

Are Civilizations Mortal?


“We civilizations, announced Paul Valéry in the early years of the twentieth century, now know ourselves to be mortal.” It was a painful blow for Western thought, which had already been rocked at the end of the nineteenth century by Nietzsche’s declaration that God was dead. Those who no longer believed in eternal religious after-worlds also had to get used to living without hope in an immortal, transcendental Reason, as enunciated by the Enlightenment. To this anxiety of finitude, writes Nicole Morgan, some other trying realizations have now been added: Western civilization’s loss of supremacy, the extinction of local cultures and, above all, “the death of humanity, now seen as likely in the medium term — an event hastened by its inability to manage its resources rationally and to control its technologies”. Today, she argues, hope — if there is any — lies in an ecology of (practical) knowledge and in a single global civilization whose values are just beginning to emerge. Yet, as Morgan points out, they are values so alien to humanity as to pose a challenge to the ‘stability of homo sapiens.’

Mots clefs :Civilisation

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