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Have humans always lived in a “pluriverse” of worlds?

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In the modern West, we take it for granted that reality is an objectively knowable material world. From a young age, we are taught to visualize it as a vast abstract space full of free-standing objects that all obey timeless universal laws of science and nature. But a very different picture of reality is now emerging from new currents of thought in fields like history, anthropology, and sociology.The most powerful of these currents suggests that reality may not be singular at all, but inherently plural. Far from being an eternally fixed material order, it is better seen as a complex historically variable effect, one that is produced whenever human communities regularize their life-sustaining interactions with the fabrics of the planet. In short, humans have always lived in a “pluriverse” of many different worlds, not in a universe of just one.Far-fetched as this idea might seem at first sight, it can be supported by a number of compelling arguments.First, on purely historical grounds, it is clear enough that billions of humans have thrived in the past without knowing anything at all of our objective material reality or its timeless laws of being. Countless non-modern peoples, from ancient Egyptians to Indigenous Amazonians, have sustained themselves successfully for hundreds if not thousands of years, despite staking their lives on very different realities, on worlds full of gods, ancestral spirits, magical forces, and so many other things which our science would deem unreal. Did they all just get lucky?Second, on ecological grounds, one could point out that our own modern reality normalizes a human-centered individualist way of life which has imperiled the whole future of the planet in just a few hundred years. On specifically humanitarian grounds, one could add that this same modern way of life has precipitated innumerable other horrors along the way, from colonialist genocides, chattel slavery, and systemic racism to two world wars and the Holocaust. If, as we. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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