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Title: Beyond Abyssal Thinking: From Global Lines to Ecologies of Knowledges
Authors: Santos, Boaventura de Sousa 
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: Binghamton University
Serial title, monograph or event: Review
Volume: 30
Issue: 1
Place of publication or event: New York
Abstract: Modern Western thinking is an abyssal thinking. It operates through radical lines that divide social reality into two realms, the realm of “this side of the line” and the realm of “the other side of the line.” The division is such that “the other side of the line” vanishes as reality, becomes nonexistent, and is indeed produced as nonexistent. What most fundamentally characterizes abyssal thinking is thus the impossibility of the copresence of the two sides of the line. The other side of the abyssal line is the realm of beyond legality and illegality (lawlessness), of beyond truth and falsehood (incomprehensible beliefs, idolatry, magic). These forms of radical negation together result in a radical absence, the absence of humanity, modern subhumanity. This article argues that although colonialism provided the model for modern radical negation and exclusion, this is as true today as in the colonial period. Modern Western thinking goes on operating through abyssal lines that divide the human from the subhuman in such a way that human principles don’t get compromised by inhuman practices. First, the tension between regulation and emancipation (on this side of the line) continues to coexist with the tension between appropriation and violence (on the other side of the line) in such a way that the universality of the first tension is not contradicted by the existence of the second one. Secondly, abyssal lines continue to structure modern knowledge and modern law. Thirdly, these two abyssal lines are constitutive of Western-based political and cultural relations and interactions in the modern world-system. The struggle for global social justice must, therefore, be a struggle for global cognitive justice as well. In order to succeed, this struggle requires a new kind of thinking, a postabyssal thinking.
ISSN: 0147-9032
DOI: 10.3726/978-1-4539-1797-8/12
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:I&D CES - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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