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A Cosmopolitical Proposal: Towards a Democratic Composition of Environments
Unformatted Document Text:  9 At the base of cosmopolitics, then, in contrast to cosmopolitanism, is a radical uncertainty about the nature of things that constitutes existence, let alone an uncertainty about a common bond among humanity. This uncertainty stems from contemporary upheavals in the status of knowledge about the world and the uncertainty at the basis of scientific practices, from subatomic physics to ecological assessments of planetary viability. For a conventional cosmopolitanism to be defensible—the political problems contained therein notwithstanding, which others have addressed more thoroughly than I am able—it must assume a shared nature as given, present, and preexisting any form of political or social activity, an assumed common natural endowment or background upon which politics plays out. The ‘background’ of nature that supplied the imagined underpinnings for a cosmopolitanism of humans does not hold any longer, and the common, static natural world upon which societies have built themselves is no longer common or static. Instead of nature and its static and knowable character, we do not know what environments can do, and we have even less sense of what an environment is composed, making the hunt for commonalities amidst the diversity of entities in the world fruitless. The cosmos, the taken-for-granted nature that gathered and reassembled politics together again following social upheaval can no longer reliably ground our politics in the way it has been used, as this former ground is itself a result of political practices. 16 Parallel to what the more nuanced interpreters and practitioners of cosmopolitanisms introduce, where a universalistic, inclusive politics must be created outside of the limits of the presumed nation-state and existing political structures, so too must this cosmopolitics create the shared world and characteristics that makes—not grounds, undergirds, nor supports, but makes— 16 This is not to say that politics can’t ground politics, or that we need to find an alternative ground to tether our politics to, but rather that the last modern ground- nature- has given way, much like the earlier grounds of politics- gods, God, king, people, etc.

Authors: Nordquist, Michael.
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9
At the base of cosmopolitics, then, in contrast to cosmopolitanism, is a radical uncertainty about
the nature of things that constitutes existence, let alone an uncertainty about a common bond
among humanity. This uncertainty stems from contemporary upheavals in the status of
knowledge about the world and the uncertainty at the basis of scientific practices, from
subatomic physics to ecological assessments of planetary viability. For a conventional
cosmopolitanism to be defensible—the political problems contained therein notwithstanding,
which others have addressed more thoroughly than I am able—it must assume a shared nature as
given, present, and preexisting any form of political or social activity, an assumed common
natural endowment or background upon which politics plays out.
The ‘background’ of nature that supplied the imagined underpinnings for a
cosmopolitanism of humans does not hold any longer, and the common, static natural world
upon which societies have built themselves is no longer common or static. Instead of nature and
its static and knowable character, we do not know what environments can do, and we have even
less sense of what an environment is composed, making the hunt for commonalities amidst the
diversity of entities in the world fruitless. The cosmos, the taken-for-granted nature that gathered
and reassembled politics together again following social upheaval can no longer reliably ground
our politics in the way it has been used, as this former ground is itself a result of political
practices.
Parallel to what the more nuanced interpreters and practitioners of cosmopolitanisms
introduce, where a universalistic, inclusive politics must be created outside of the limits of the
presumed nation-state and existing political structures, so too must this cosmopolitics create the
shared world and characteristics that makes—not grounds, undergirds, nor supports, but makes—
16
This is not to say that politics can’t ground politics, or that we need to find an alternative ground to tether our
politics to, but rather that the last modern ground- nature- has given way, much like the earlier grounds of politics-
gods, God, king, people, etc.


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