The two projects of modernity

Boyan Znepolski

The article represents a critical reading of Alain Renaut’s well known book
The Era of the Individual. The author distinguishes between two different projects
of modernity: the first one refers to the triumph of the individuality, the
second one refers to a forgotten and marginal perspective – the idea of subjectivity.
According to Renaut the individual is interpreted by modernity as a
monad, that is to say as a pure immanence, which excludes any direct relationship
with the other individuals. On the contrary, subjectivity implies a dimension
of transcendence (transcendence-in-the-immanence), which allows man to
transcend the pure immanence and to come up to a sphere of objectivity, construed
as intersubjectively valid moral law, where all particular perspectives
coincide in the idea of a reconciled humanity.

Our objection to Renaut’s rehabilitation of finite subjectivity concerns the
very possibility to think of objectivity as a dimension of subjectivity. If the concept
of subjectivity is to be kept, may be it is more appropriate to its finite character
to ask first about the intersubjective conditions of possibility of the sphere
of objectivity, which in its turn makes possible to conceive of the idea of an
autonomous subject. Perhaps, the subjectivity is not to be posed at the beginning,
but to be found in the end of the road.

Published 4 February 2003
Original in English

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