Review of the book “The bet for life. Sociological imagination and social imaginaries in the environmental territories of the South. " by Enrique Leff (2014)
“(…) Too much blind light. The peoples exposed to the stereotypical repetition of images are also peoples exposed to disappear. ”
(Didi Huberman, 2014, 14)
Betting on life is, in Enrique Leff's approach, “a shift in the will to dominate nature and others, towards the will to be able to love life” (3) which implies rethinking and re-founding our possible humanity and our ways of dwelling in the world. A question runs through and worries our reading: Will we, as humanity, have the sociological imagination to deconstruct unsustainable rationality and create another possible rationality?
The environmental crisis and the entropic death of the planet that we inhabit and inhabit us are crises of our modes of production and understanding of knowledge, crises of the foundational splits that broke out with the modernity (s), capitalisms and Enlightenment of the reason. Indeed, our scientific understanding of the world is indebted to those hegemonic modernities, to the rationality of modernity that managed to impose itself "deterritorializing other ways of being in the world." (12) For Leff, the environmental crisis is the strongest sign and symptom of this limit of modernity. In this sense, he affirms that the social sciences were built “in the forgetfulness of nature and in environmental blindness” (7). However, "the environmental question is not reabsorbed in the order of the rationality of modernity, but refers to another order of rationality, that of an environmental rationality" (15), since the consciousness of this crisis implies the understanding of the limit of the rationality that has configured it (224). This commitment to life, this other rationality, opens a new way of understanding the world and proposes a new scheme of the social sciences.
Enrique Leff postulates the rationality of modernity as the hegemonic way of producing the world that capitalizes / commodifies and homogenizes different forms of life. This scientific, economic and instrumental rationality legitimizes forms of appropriation and economic-technological transformation of finitized nature, turned into scarce resources and externalities of the production process. This will to know and to power that expert knowledge knew how to build has given rise to the existence of an “unsustainable rationality” (210). It is an indolent rationality, as Boaventura de Sousa Santos argues, that dominates the world through waste and alienation from human experience.
Knowledge put at the service of productivity and profit has broken the relationship of knowledge with the fabric of life. (…) Turned into the support of economic reason, it produces ignorance of being and proscribes lived experience as a source of knowledge (221).
The environmental crisis is a crisis of the rationality of modernity, of scientific reason; However, it is not a crisis derived from the internal logic of the functioning of science (scientific revolutions, paradigm shifts, scientific discoveries) but rather it arises as an effect of the patterns of knowledge, accumulation and objectification of the world that it formulates. In his historical journey through the themes that occupied sociological reflection and research in the last decades of the 20th century, Leff highlights the question of order and social change, movement and the future of societies, and marks how the systematization of the field Epistemological does not incorporate into the recent history of the social sciences the emergence of the sciences of complexity and the environmental crisis, two fundamental facts that burst into the field of knowledge.
The crisis of reason allowed the opening and the emergence of other epistemological approaches, of other “matrices of rationality”, the emancipation of “knowledge subjugated by the epistemological colonialism of Eurocentric thought that has ignored, disabled and buried other cultural worldviews” ( 314) and the legitimization of other social experiences, other knowledge and other ways of knowing.
Faced with this rationality that marks its limit with the impossibility of responding to the environmental crisis, environmental rationality emerges as the possibility and power to create ethics, aesthetics and other ways of inhabiting the world politically. It configures and constellates epistemic and ecological territories of life and sustainability. In this sense, it seeks to territorialize "the ontological principles of postmodern thought - Heidegger's existential ontology, Derrida's ontology of difference, and Deleuze and Guattari's ontology of diversity in the field of political ecology" (25)
This rationality is critical for modernity to be called upon to reflect on its theoretical, ethical and instrumental bases. This rationality holds that "reflective modernization is the eternal return of the same" (211)
Environmental rationality is presented, rather than as a paradigm or an axiomatic model, as a way of thinking, a comprehensive thought that territorializes a multiplicity of "matrices of rationality" and is constructed in a dialogue of knowledge. This rationality is configured in the emergence of environmental complexity, ontological and epistemological complexity that opens the possibility of thinking and creating other diverse modes of habitability of the world, in the negentropic immanence of life, “which are not a return to pre-modernity , and that the term postmodernity fails to conceptualize. " (twenty)
Another environmental sociology is part of the new scheme of the social sciences that opens up this rationality. It is a sociology committed to the critical present of the world and to the unpromising future in terms of planetary sustainability, which seeks to re-understand the current world from an inquisitive perspective; "It is a manifesto of combat against a sociology disconnected from the roots of life and subsumed in the process of rationalization of an unsustainable modernity" (34) It is an "emancipatory sociology" that seeks to create new territories in the heterogenesis of life and
Promote the event of the possible from the immanence of life, from its negentropic potentials, from creative thought and action that fertilize the real, from solidarity with ongoing social processes; since the recovery of what, having emerged, was subdued by the hegemonic power of colonization and globalization of the world; of what has been uncivilized: invisible, devalued, marginalized by the subjugation of other knowledge (41)
It is a sociology of solidarity of ecologies, natures, economies, cultures, rationalities, modernities, knowledge.
Environmental thinking creates another possible dialogue between disciplines that work on the nature / culture relationship, thereby “opening a new space for sociological understanding and an epistemological challenge to give consistency to conceptual polysemy and disciplinary transfers (…)” (28 ). In this sense, Leff argues that the epistemology of environmental sociology must distinguish the senses of order, entropy, and negentropy as concepts belonging to the disciplinary field of natural sciences in order to construct / territorialize their meaning in the field of social sciences. This environmental epistemology is not a principle of exclusion or legitimation of the possible modes of cognition of the world, but rather an opening to the intelligibility and understanding of various social modes of production of knowledge, rationalities and truths to come.
The emergence of social actors "of environmentalism", "inhabited by the desire for life and mobilized by the right to be in the world in the face of the entropic death of the planet" (87), is part of the field of political ecology, in the that strategies of confrontation and alliance are configured regarding visions, interests and different and different values around the social reappropriation of nature and the emergence and construction of another possible sustainability: a multiclass movement with a leading role in the construction of imaginaries in which a sustainable future is possible. Emerge, become visible and audible, "new dispersed identities that are articulated and in solidarity through social networks putting into action a politics of difference in the processes of reappropriation of nature, in which new cultural identities are configured" ( 295); It is a multi-faceted, multi-class and complex socio-environmental movement.
Environmental rationality territorializes new worlds / ways of life by opening up to the dialogue of knowledge, it is that created space and creative power of (collective) truths to come. This emerges from the encounter of imaginaries of sustainability (Imaginaries of Good Living, Suma Quamana, Sumak Kawsay), of rationalities and values that do not close on what has already been given, but rather open up to the cultural creativity of sustainable worlds of life by -come. Environmental rationality welcomes the germ of the new, embryonic lines, latencies that exist but have not yet found their name.
It is a new political ethic that "disposes the world to fertilize differences" and heterogeneities. This dialogue of knowledge makes counting as composable and available heterogeneities “buried knowledge” and “embodied knowledge”, in the process of emancipation, which territorialize other forms of life (252), as well as the emergence and potential of what has not yet been it has been, "not yet" and, therefore, not-named.
It would be, as Georges Didí-Huberman (2009) maintains, to make the peoples appear, despite everything, as the survivals of a “firefly-knowledge” (101) (of the states of light and the states of the voice ), of small lights, small transient, intermittent, interstitial, dancing, erratic, resistant and insistent flashes that appear as an alternative to times that are too dark or too bright, a less light with a “strong deterritorialization coefficient.” (39) “Las survivals (…) teach us that destruction is never absolute - even if it is continuous (…) ”(65)
Enrique Leff argues that there is no single way to "live well" or to exercise autonomy as an emancipatory praxis that creates the "radically other" in which nature becomes political. Emancipation strategies, the clamor for environmental justice and creativity to build sustainable alternative worlds become fundamental bets that we must make every day to continue living, resisting in the trenches and re-existing in our territories.
* Débora Andrea Cerutti: Research Center of the "María Saleme de Burnichon" Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities (CIFFyH) - CONICET. [email protected] ArgentinaMarcela Cecilia Marín: Research Center of the Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities "María Saleme de Burnichon" (CIFFyH) - CONICET. [email protected] Argentina
Suggested citation: Cerutti, D .; Marín, M. (2016). The commitment to other possible ways of thinking and inhabiting life. Sociology Questions, 14, e011. Retrieved from http://www.cuestionessociologia.fahce.unlp.edu.ar/…
Leff, Enrique (2014). The bet for life. Sociological imagination and social imaginaries in the environmental territories of the south. Vozes editora, Mexico.Didí-Huberman, Georges (2009). The survival of fireflies. Abada Editores, Madrid.Didí-Huberman, Georges (2014). Exposed towns, figurative towns. Manantial, Buenos Aires.
Biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean