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The American Journal of Semiotics

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published on March 3, 2017

Ricardo Nogueira De Castro Monteiro
DOI: 10.5840/ajs20173225

Numanities and Their Role in the Twenty-First Century
Three Questions Towards a New Era

Despite the unquestionable importance of technological progress in twenty-first-century society, the decision by many political leaders worldwide to treat natural sciences as an almost exclusive priority betrays a terrible misconception of the complexity of the contemporary world. As the Renaissance cannot be reduced to Copernicus’s or Galileo’s brilliant contributions, or Enlightenment to the works of such giants as Newton and Cavendish, contemporary society will hardly be remembered as just a series of amazing software and gadget updates. There are three categories of questions today that only humanities are prone to answer. The first one, exploring the relations between subject and object mediated by the meaning of “property”, ultimately concerns the discussion between legality and legitimacy. Not long ago, teenagers were still being sued by the giants of the Entertainment Industry for downloading songs, and the practice of mash-ups or remixing even now arouses huge polemics. The second one, focused on the self-representations of the subject, concerns the changing meanings (and representations) of identity and cultural borders in a globalizing world. Finally, the inter-subjective interactions are the centre of the political tensions between democracy and demagogy, two opposed categories that have often been presented as hardly distinguishable from each other.

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