Unthinking Modernity: Historical-Sociological, Epistemological and Logical Pathways



Modernity remains the privileged theoretical frame and narrative for long term processes at the global scale, notwithstanding the heterogeneously contested definition of its spatiotemporal coordinates, the irreconcilability of contradictions inherent to its alleged emancipatory power and the accusations of complicity with Eurocentrism. This article explores some logical, epistemological and historical-sociological contradictions inherent in the effort to produce non-euorcentric categories of social and historical analysis, and explains why such an effort is doomed to failure if modernity keeps on being accepted as the epistemic territory within which such an effort is located. Eurocentrism is thus defined as palingenetic, to the extent it constantly shifts its contextual meaning while reformulating European centrality in different and ever-changing modalities; such properties of Eurocentrism as a paradigm are conceptualized in terms of its ability to operate by means of consequential isomorphism. Evidences from recent debates in history of scientific modernity are considered, in order to articulate analytical tensions between connected histories and dialogical civilizational narratives of East and West relation at the global scale. The impossibility to explain the ‘why’ of modernity according to a coherent ‘how’ of modernity without falling into Eurocentric structures of thinking is assessed. Finally, theoretical project of “unthinking modernity” is introduced as a possible way to reframe the problem of Eurocentric limits in historical and social sciences.