Date of Award


Document Type

M.A. Essay

First Advisor

Aden Evens

Second Advisor

Roopika Risam


How do the modern era’s sociopolitical and technological developments, from the Age of Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution to the Industrial Revolution, influence our contemporary 21st century views on truth? How do they relate to the technological, sociopolitical, and ecological predicaments faced in the 21st century? My project, through comparative literary analysis, offers a critique of modernity by paying attention to its imperial and colonial character and how it establishes its epistemological power to define what is fact and truth at the expense of other ways of knowing, seeing and being that offer potential solutions to 21st century predicaments. I argue that modernity’s epistemological basis of truth via its rationalist logic (rationalism) evacuates its ethical relationship to truth at a moment of sociopolitical and ecological crisis. Analyzing Ted Chiang’s short story “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, and Nahoko Uehashi’s novel Seirei no Moribito (Guardian of the Spirit), I provide a critical literary account that assesses modernity’s way of establishing epistemological power, while also highlighting its ethical foreclosure. I then assert a need to return to an ethical outlook on truth for a recuperative future, what I call planetary spiritualism. Planetary spiritualism (informed by Western and non-Western philosophical outlooks from antiquity that centers a notion of care on socio-political, ecological and technological fronts) would consider facing predicaments of the 21st century by considering the planet –with all its living (humans included) and non-living constituents– as one whole that needs caring custodianship.

Available for download on Tuesday, June 02, 2026