When reading this section of Toulmin’s work, I couldn’t help but make connections to things in my own everyday life, or evaluate where humanity stands (from my perspective at least).
First, I think the discussion of nature vs. society is very interesting. I know he is not making this point about 2017, but I think it is a relevant point nonetheless when we are evaluating where we stand as a human race. When he talks about society vs. nature, I couldn’t help but think about the dichotomy between things that we are expected to be “objective” on, and how we are constantly submersed in an era of cyber passion and constant expression. In other words, in some ways we are expected to see things objectively; see the arguments that others make, understand the importance of things we may not agree with, but are encouraged to express how we’re feeling at all times. And then when he was talking about artists in the 30s and how art was in direct conflict with science and rational thinking I couldn’t help but think of how we are now with social media. Maybe it’s a stretch, and clearly social media is not necessarily art, but it was interesting to me to think that maybe for how rational we think we are, we have such a strong outlet for expression.
This reading also made me think of the 4 stages of history (I think it’s Adam Smith? Does anyone know? I can’t remember), and how history tends to repeat itself. I was reminded of this concept when Toulmin talks about the “Re-Renaissance” that occurred when these artists directly conflicted with the stagnant and rational nature of the society around them after the first World War. Again, maybe a stretch.
The third thing I found interesting about this was how Toulmin talks about the term “superpower” and how it has had a major effect of sovereignty. We talk about this a lot at Goucher, how the United States tend to shove its brand of governance down the throats of smaller, poorer, developing nations, but I had never really thought of how the word “superpower” affects this relationship. He also talks about Russia here and how the Cold War kind of made the U.S. “superpower” thing a norm, where states are sovereign, but only until the U.S. needs or wants something from them.
Toulmin asks what modernity really means, and says that even though humans are inept at understanding anything, international organizations are still doing a better job than the “fragmented collection of nation-states.” He ends by saying that these organizations have not been tested, so I guess we’ll see what happens post-post-modernism.
Here are some articles that made me think of this text:
This one is interesting and talks about Michael Flynn’s resignation. I chose it because it illustrates my earlier point that sovereignty has been so blurred by our attachment to social media and the rise of international institutions as viable actors.
That’s all for now!