Book Section
One of the theoretical tensions that has arisen from Anthropocene studies is what Dipesh Chakrabarty has called the ‘two figures of the human’, and the question of which of these two figures of the human inheres in the concept of the Anthropocene more. On the one hand, the Human is conceived as the universal reasoning subject upon whom political rights and equality are based, and on the other hand, humankind is the collection of all individuals of our species, with all of the inequalities, differences, and variability inherent in any species category. This chapter takes up Deborah Coen’s argument that Chakrabarty’s claim of the ‘incommensurability’ of these two figures of the human ignores the way both were constructed within debates over how to relate local geophysical specificities to theoretical generalities. This chapter examines two cases in the history of science. The first is Martin Rudwick’s historical exploration of how geologists slowly gained the ability to use fossils and highly local stratigraphic surveys to reconstruct the history of the Earth in deep time, rather than resort to speculative cosmological theory. The second is Coen’s own history of imperial, Austrian climate science, a case where early nineteenth-century assumptions about the capriciousness of the weather gave way to theories of climate informed by thermodynamics and large-scale data collection.
Title
Scaling from Weather to Climate
Author(s)
Daniel Liu
Identifier
DOI Target
HTML Page
Description
One of the theoretical tensions that has arisen from Anthropocene studies is what Dipesh Chakrabarty has called the ‘two figures of the human’, and the question of which of these two figures of the human inheres in the concept of the Anthropocene more. On the one hand, the Human is conceived as the universal reasoning subject upon whom political rights and equality are based, and on the other hand, humankind is the collection of all individuals of our species, with all of the inequalities, differences, and variability inherent in any species category. This chapter takes up Deborah Coen’s argument that Chakrabarty’s claim of the ‘incommensurability’ of these two figures of the human ignores the way both were constructed within debates over how to relate local geophysical specificities to theoretical generalities. This chapter examines two cases in the history of science. The first is Martin Rudwick’s historical exploration of how geologists slowly gained the ability to use fossils and highly local stratigraphic surveys to reconstruct the history of the Earth in deep time, rather than resort to speculative cosmological theory. The second is Coen’s own history of imperial, Austrian climate science, a case where early nineteenth-century assumptions about the capriciousness of the weather gave way to theories of climate informed by thermodynamics and large-scale data collection.
Is Part Of
Place
Berlin
Publisher
ICI Berlin Press
Date
2020
Subject
meteorology
climate
incommensurability
scale
geology
stratigraphy
Rights
© by the author
Except for images or otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Harvested
yes
Language
en-GB
short title
Scaling from Weather to Climate
page start
93
page end
117
Source
Weathering: Ecologies of Exposure, ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey and Arnd Wedemeyer, Cultural Inquiry, 17 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2020), pp. 93–117
Bibliographic Citation
Daniel Liu, ‘Scaling from Weather to Climate’, in Weathering: Ecologies of Exposure, ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey and Arnd Wedemeyer, Cultural Inquiry, 17 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2020), pp. 93–117 <https://doi.org/10.37050/ci-17_05>
Format
application/pdf