ONLINE FIRST ARTICLES
Articles forthcoming in in this journal are available Online First prior to publication. More details about Online First and how to use and cite these articles can be found HERE
September 29, 2022
We Have Always Been Planetary
first published on September 29, 2022
This essay shows how a new materialist theory of the Earth side-steps the distinction between the global and the planetary that structures Chakrabarty’s historiography. It advocates for a non-binary-generating approach to our planetary situation grounded in the philosophy of motion.
September 24, 2022
Juia D. Gibson
Holographic Ethics for Intergenerational Justice
Planetary Politics through the Prism
first published on September 24, 2022
Building off Manulani Aluli-Meyer’s theory of holographic epistemology, this article explores how our understanding of intergenerational justice shifts when informed by relational interspecies ethics and nonlinear temporalities. Both intergenerational and interspecies ethics are greatly enriched if the dead, the living, and those yet-to-be are not (only) distinct generations of beings along a linear sequence but coexistent facets of every being. The second focal point of this article concerns what holographic epistemology reveals about Dipesh Chakrabarty’s notion of the planetary. Ultimately, the article argues that holographic intergenerational ethics highlight the need for a third earthly domain beyond the planet and the globe.
September 22, 2022
Stefan Pedersen, Dimitris, Stevis, Agni Kalfagianni
The Earth System, Justice, and Governance in a Planetary Age
Engaging a Social Turn
first published on September 22, 2022
This commentary on Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Climate of History initially frames the work in the context of the ongoing transdisciplinary project of creating synergies or more precisely “consilience” between the sciences and humanities. When this project is engaged in on the premises of the humanities (and the social sciences), we end up with the Earth system and the planetary as the basic lifeblood of human society—what foregrounds existence in common. That this realization is already bringing forth new justificatory principles for governance in a planetary age is then related through a history of ecological justice concerns.
September 21, 2022
Danielle Celermajer, Christine J. Winter
Fables for the Anthropocene: Illuminating Other Stories for Being Human in an Age of Planetary Turmoil
first published on September 21, 2022
In A Climate of History Dipesh Chakrabarty locates Kant’s speculative reading of Genesis as “the Enduring Fable” furnishing the background for human domination and earthly destruction. Writing from the fable’s “ruins,” Chakrabarty urges the elaboration of new fables that provide the background ethics and meanings required to recast relations between humans and the natural world. Responding to Chakrabarty’s challenge, we outline two “fables” based first in the oft ignored Genesis 2, and second, in Matauranga Māori. Although marginalised, these extant fables provide the imaginary for radically other ways of being human in a more-than-human world in turmoil.
September 16, 2022
Wonder and Politics in the Anthropocene: Beyond Curiosity and Reverence
first published on September 16, 2022
The paper starts from the wonderment-reverence distinction introduced by Dipesh Chakrabarty in his book The Climate of History in a Planetary Age. While Chakrabarty’s concept of the planetary as the framework for the Anthropocene is accepted, his skepticism about the political relevance of wonder(ment) in the Anthropocene is challenged. Pace Chakrabarty, the link between wonder(ment) and curiosity is severed, and wonder is instead defined through the connections to the faculties of listening and reflective judgment. As such, wonder can be relevant to politics in the Anthropocene when engaging with the planetary
September 15, 2022
The Planetary Sublime
(Part II of The Problem of an Unloving World)
first published on September 15, 2022
This essay interprets Dipesh Chakrabarty’s The Climate of History in a Planetary Age in light of the European tradition of thought about the sublime. The first half of the essay stages Chakrabarty’s historiography within that tradition focusing on a critical understanding of Kant. Then, the essay considers how the trace of the sublime in Chakrabarty’s approach to planetary history is interpretable as a form of social alienation. That argument draws on the critical theory of Steven Vogel and decolonial critique. Finally, the essay considers the moods of protest as non-alienated responses to the planetary bypassing the coloniality of the sublime.
June 7, 2022
Gabriella Colello, Swapna Pathak, Marcos S Scauso
Solutions for Whom and by Whom?
Environmental Norms and Intersectional Decoloniality
first published on June 7, 2022
Many actors use the norm of climate justice to fight climate change and to struggle against global inequities internationally and domestically. Despite the enormous diversity of ways in which actors have deployed ideas of climate justice, many of the policies framed within this norm sustain oppressive, silencing, and/or assimilating tendencies. Hence, this paper looks at the biases that were introduced from ideas of “sustainable development” into the discourse of climate justice. Through the cases of India and Oceania, the paper illustrates the ways in which colonial legacies of single-axis thinking and development emphasize a particular struggle at the expense of other experiences and ways of life.
June 3, 2022
Russell J. Duvernoy
Thinking in Crisis: Towards an Ethics of Speculation?
first published on June 3, 2022
The paper critically explores tensions inherent in speculative thinking in the context of climate change. It argues that speculative thinking is not a supererogatory luxury or idle pastime, but rather an essential necessity, especially in the context of climate change. Understanding this requires becoming more aware of operative tensions of speculative practice. In particular, the paper focusses on how climate discourses intersect and engage our variable affective economies through the affect of fear and proposes two practical virtues (“speculative courage” and “contemplative attending”) to be cultivated towards a responsible practice of speculative thought in this context.
June 1, 2022
Christopher D. DiBona
Listening to Nature’s Voices: Human and Animal Autonomy in Hegel
first published on June 1, 2022
This article reconstructs Hegel’s account of nature’s autonomy and argues for its significance for his understanding of human autonomy and the relation between nature and spirit. It argues that Hegel treats the actualization of nature’s autonomy—epitomized by the phenomena of animal voice and birdsong—as a vital component of the actualization of free human spirit. Drawing on this analysis, the article then offers an ecological gloss on Hegel’s interest in the progressive actualization of freedom in the modern world. It concludes by sketching a Hegelian account of what it might mean to listen to nature’s voices.
The Lesser Number: On Action and Geoengineering
first published on June 1, 2022
The current crises put before us alternatives of action that require decision; for example, the decision of whether to deploy or investigate SRM geoengineering to counter global warming, which is here taken as the central example. Attending to the ontological richness of value in the elements of the world, of which scientific models and thought are a very particular and limited kind, can cast a different light into the decision process, which otherwise would almost unavoidably devolve into “infernal alternatives,” as Isabelle Stengers calls them: impossible choices between two evils.
May 27, 2022
Practicing Positive Aesthetics
first published on May 27, 2022
This paper rethinks positive aesthetics as a group of aesthetic practices rather than a set of doctrines or judgments. The paper begins by setting out a general approach to aesthetic practices based on Pierre Hadot’s notion of philosophical “spiritual exercises.” Three practices of positive aesthetics are then described: focusing the beauty of each thing; envisioning the beauty of everything; and allowing the beauty of all things. The paper warns against possible dangers to which each practice may fall prey, dangers that divert the practice from its perception cultivating and enhancing potential. The paper ends by drawing out key implications of this way of considering positive aesthetics for our understanding of beauty, negativity and artificiality.
October 6, 2021
Eating the Good: Plumwood’s Trophic Extensionism
first published on October 6, 2021
Plumwood’s late work articulates two intertwined “historic tasks”: re-situating “non-human life in ethical terms” and “human life in ecological terms.” Her well-known thesis of “weak panpsychism,” an explicit rival to moral extensionism, represents her primary approach to the first task. Her approach to the second task, however, is less conspicuous. My aim is to identify and develop this approach, which, I suggest, mobilizes the fraught idea of human edibility into a certain mimetic and critical mode of extensionism that I call trophic extensionism. Inverting moral extensionist logic, it extends not moral considerability to animals but literal edibility to humans. Plumwood’s trophic extensionism both revitalizes weak panpsychism—re-vealing an unexpected link between food and mind—and generates a bold new conception of food: no longer an ontological category, food becomes an ecological relation defined by epistemological vulnerability.
October 1, 2021
From Biomimicry to Biosophia: Ecologies of Technology in Benyus, Oxman, Fisch, and Merleau-Ponty
first published on October 1, 2021
Biomimicry promises great progress in ecological design. Advocates, hinging on the work of Janine Benyus, argue that biomimicry enhances sustainable technologies. This essay suggests conceptual and ethical improvements to biomimicry: first by considering Michael Fisch’s concept of bioinspiration through studying Neri Oxman’s Silkworm Pavilion and second, through the articulation of a new concept of biosophia, drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s late Institution and Nature lectures. His investigation of seemingly impossible proto-mimicry prior to perception discloses a deeper comportment toward biomimicry, revealing its conditions of possibility in intercorporeal expressivity. Biosophia grounds a deeper ethic of collaboration with other lifeforms.
September 25, 2021
Kimberly M. Dill
Three Criteria for Environmental Authenticity: A Response to the Simulation Problem
first published on September 25, 2021
Broadly, I endorse the view that biodiverse species and spaces warrant conservation (partially) in virtue of their power to induce epistemic (Paul 2015; Sarkar 2011), relational, and positive, psycho-physiological transformation. However, if we are (in the not-so-distant future) able to construct cross-modally replete simulations of biodiverse environments, then what reason would we have to conserve genuine, biodiverse ecosystems? In order to address this “Simulation Problem,” I argue that the authenticity of biodiverse environments matters, both in itself and insofar as authenticity plays an important psychological, cultural, personal, and epistemic role in the lives of human agents.
August 25, 2021
Notes on Miki Kiyoshi’s Anthropological Humanism and Environmental Ethics
first published on August 25, 2021
This article argues for the importance of using Miki Kiyoshi’s anthropological humanism as a theoretical resource for confronting the unfolding ecological crisis. What makes Miki’s anthropological humanism valuable towards this end, in particular, is in the way he blends multiple theoretical discourses—particularly Nishida and Marx—which speak to the concerns espoused by Deep Ecology and Marxist approaches to environmental philosophy. Unlike other Kyoto School thinkers deployed in the service of building an environmental ethics in recent years, Miki’s philosophical work offers social-economic alternatives to the problem of capitalism within a non-dual framework that seeks to be non-dogmatic. This article will discuss how Miki’s anthropological humanism can enrich those conversations taking place within the “green” and “red” movements by providing them with insights by which to contest and overcome anthropocentric views of reality and the system of capitalism believed to be responsible for the environmental destruction we see today.
August 18, 2021
Unacceptable Agency Part I of The Problem of an Unloving World
first published on August 18, 2021
The Earth System Governance Project is the largest scholarly body in the world devoted to articulating governance of the Earth’s systems. It recently published a “Harvesting Initiative” looking back on the first iteration of its Scientific Plan. This paper contributes to the decolonial and constructive critique of the theory of agency in that Initiative and argues that it displays “fragmentary coloniality” especially around problematic authority relations in governance. By turning to work on “worlding,” the paper argues for radicalizing questions of authority, leading us to focus not on agency but on moral relationships—work for a sequel to this paper.
July 10, 2021
Andrew F. Smith
Symbioculture: A Kinship-Based Conception of Sustainable Food Systems
first published on July 10, 2021
Symbioculture involves nurturing the lives of those in one’s ecology, including the beings one eats. More specifically, it is a kinship-based conception of food and food systems rooted in Indigenous considerations of sustainability. Relations among food sources; cultivators, distributors, and eaters; and the land they share are sustainable when they function as extended kinship arrangements. Symbioculture hereby offers salient means to resist the ecocidal, agroindustrial food system that currently dominates transnationally in a manner that responds to the urgent need—both in terms of Indigenous justice and prudence for us all—to decolonize foodways and decommodify food, food-based knowledge, and food labor.
April 1, 2021
Félix Landry Yuan
The Usefulness of Uselessness for Conservation in the Ways of Zhuangzi
first published on April 1, 2021
Global efforts for biodiversity conservation have gained considerable momentum in recent years. Yet much remains to be learned from the minds of the ancient past regarding perspectives on relations between society and the environment. Zhuangzi is one such figure whose works may be of high relevance to contemporary conservation. While many philosophical ideals underpinning conservation stem from a mostly westernized ethos, strategies can be expanded by non-western principles such as Zhuangzi’s. In light of IPBES’ “nature’s contributions to people” concept, a globally reaching framework for conservation, I explore the applicability of one of Zhuangzi’s central teachings; the usefulness of uselessness.
March 26, 2021
Joshua Mousie, Gabriel Eisen, Mahaa Mahmood
How Do Houses Make the Political Possible?
first published on March 26, 2021
We develop the concept “political residency” in this essay to highlight both the foundational role of built environments in our political life as well as how access to, and displacement from, built environments is therefore a central feature of political harms and goods. The example of housing and housing displacement is instructive for developing our concept because it is central to most people’s everyday life, yet residential security and stability—having control with other inhabitants over shared, built spaces—is often missing from peoples’ lives, especially those who are most socially and politically vulnerable.
March 19, 2021
Kant’s Pre-critical Ontology and Environmental Philosophy
first published on March 19, 2021
In this paper I argue that Kant’s pre-critical ontology, though generally dismissed by environmental philosophers, provides ecological lessons by way of its metaphysical affinities with environmental philosophy. First, I reference where environmental philosophy tends to place Kant and highlight his relative marginalization. This marginalization makes sense given focus on his critical works. I then outline Kant’s pre-critical ontological framework and characterize the ways in which it is ecological. Finally, I conclude with some ecological reflections on the pre-critical philosophy and its possible relevance for contemporary environmental issues.
March 18, 2021
Tracks: A Material Phenomenology of the Road
first published on March 18, 2021
This project is a convergence of environmental philosophy and variant strains of continental philosophy. The aim is to make the familiar a bit unfamiliar, partly by understanding the road as an event, and partly by experimentally downplaying the significance of human intentions, particularly given that originary tracks were frequently the result of simple useage. We humans are always on the road, which in a fundamental sense is going nowhere or, alternatively, is possibly heading toward a dead-end.
March 16, 2021
Julia D. Gibson
Climate Justice for the Dead and the Dying
When Past-Oriented Environmentalism Isn’t Enough
first published on March 16, 2021
Environmentalism has long placed heavy emphasis on strategies that seek to ensure the environment of today and the future roughly mirror the past. Yet while past-oriented approaches have come under increased scrutiny, environmental ethics in the time of climate change is still largely conceptualized as that which could pull humanity back from the brink of disaster or, at least, prevent the worst of it. As a result, practical and conceptual tools for grappling with what is owed to the dead and dying victims of environmental injustice have been and continue to be woefully underdeveloped. This paper advances scaffolding for robust environmental death ethics that are temporally pluralistic and at home within intergenerational climate justice.
March 6, 2021
Jack Black, Jim Cherrington
Temporal Ontology in Ecology
Developing an Ecological Awareness Through Time, Temporality and the Past-present Parallax
first published on March 6, 2021
Theoretical applications of time and temporality remain a key consideration for both climate scientists and the humanities. By way of extending this importance, we critically examine Timothy Morton’s proposed “ecological awareness” alongside Slavoj Žižek’s “parallax view.” In doing so, the article introduces a “past-present parallax” in order to contest that, while conceptions of the past are marked by “lack,” equally, our conceptions of and relations to Nature remain grounded in an ontological incompleteness, marked by contingency. This novel approach presents an ecological awareness that remains temporally attuned to the impasses and inconsistencies which frame our relations in/with Nature.
January 28, 2021
Climate Change and the Historicity of Nature in Hegel, Nishida, and Watsuji
first published on January 28, 2021
While the existence of nature distinct from human influence becomes evermore suspect, within the natural sciences, human beings are increasingly understood in naturalistic terms. The collision of the human and natural, both within conceptual discourse and the reality of climate change may be considered a “great event” in the Hegelian sense, that reveals a dialectic immanent within the nature/culture distinction. Nishida’s notion of “historical nature,” Watsuji’s unique conception of climate, and the traditional satoyama landscapes of Japan offer timely ways of understanding the sublation of the distinction between nature and culture that render the nature/spirit hierarchy found in Hegel obsolete.
January 19, 2021
O’neil Van Horn
A Phenomenology of the Ground:
Or, Notes on the Fallacy of Un-Earth-ing Philosophy
first published on January 19, 2021
In light of the already-here disasters of the Anthropocene, what might it mean to define “ground” phenomenologically? That is, if one is to get beyond the ‘merely rational’ and enter into the ‘dustier’ matters of ecological philosophizing, how might one phenomenologically consider the ground? This article will dwell on the nature of the earth-ground—or, soil—as a rematerialized grounding principle for phenomenology in this age of climate crisis. Contending with Heidegger, among others, this poietic article limns possibilities for a ‘grounded’ phenomenology.
Thomas H. Bretz
Animating the Inanimate—A Deconstructive-Phenomenological Account of Animism
first published on January 19, 2021
This paper investigates the plausibility of one aspect of animism, namely the experience of other-than-human (including so-called inanimate) beings as exhibiting a kind of inaccessible interiority. I do so by developing a parallel between Husserl’s account of our experience of other conscious beings and our experience of non-conscious as well as so-called inanimate beings. I establish this parallel based on Derrida’s insistence on the irreducibility of context. This allows me to show how the structure of presence qua absence characteristic of our experience of conscious others emerges in our experience of non-conscious beings as well.
January 13, 2021
A Heideggerian Analysis of Renewable Energy and The Electric Grid
Converting Nature to Standing Reserve
first published on January 13, 2021
Renewable energy technology is often seen as a positive expression of technology, meeting energy needs with minimal environmental impact. But, by integrating nature (e.g., wind and sunlight) with the ordering of the electric grid, renewables silently convert that nature into what Martin Heidegger referred to as standing reserve—resources of the technological commodity chain to be ordered, controlled, converted, and consumed on demand. However, it may be possible to mitigate the downsides of this process through a transition to more decentralized, local sources of renewable energy operations and management that maintain awareness of the ways in which energy is generated and distributed.
January 8, 2021
How Plants Live
Individuality, Activity, and Self
first published on January 8, 2021
The recent proliferation of human-plant (or plant-human) studies are informed by understandings of how plants live. Philosopher Michael Marder has developed a philosophy of plant ontology, founded on notions of modular independence, radical openness and ontological indifference. This paper critiques, and ultimately rejects, Marder’s key concepts, using a swathe of empirical evidence and theory from the plant sciences and evolutionary ecology. It posits a number of positive statements about these aspects of plant being that better align with the scientific evidence base. The implications for plant ethics are also briefly explored.
January 6, 2021
Brian Hisao Onishi
The Uncanny Wonder of Being Edible to Ticks
first published on January 6, 2021
In this paper I argue that an encounter with a tick can produce both fear and wonder. I make a distinction between the legitimate danger of tick borne-diseases and the non-danger of our entanglement with the nature revealed by the tick’s bite in order to highlight the goodness of the tick and the possibilities for post-human existences beyond narratives of conquest and control. Ultimately, I argue that wonder is a helpful mechanism for thinking through the goodness of the tick by allowing an ungrounding of our assumptions about climate change, hospitality, and the danger of non-human agencies.
July 21, 2020
How Could We Rescue the World Today?
first published on July 21, 2020
The distress of our world, and the danger in which we are today, force us to think about the way according to which life can still be saved, beginning with our human life. The undertaking of thinking must take root again in what is most essential for life itself, and for its cultivation. This requires us to question about the manner in which our tradition has assembled beings into a whole, but also the manner in which we can collect and gather ourselves together—each one and between us. Obviously, money cannot achieve such undertaking. Sexuate difference could if we become able to perceive and acknowledge its importance for human life, for its development, and for its sharing.
Motivating a “Thinkable Politics”
A Critical Phenomenology of Climate Response
first published on July 21, 2020
Climate change is one of the greatest collective action problems ever faced. The social and cultural barriers to intersubjectively motivating concern and agency are sweeping. It seems all but impossible to imagine politically viable solutions commensurate with the realities of the problem, and likewise find visionary ways of framing this problem to inspire meaningful solutions. One therefore perceives an abyss between ‘problem’ and ‘solution,’ as expressed in irreconcilable debates between problem-driven and solution-driven strategies for motivating climate action. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s dialectical phenomenology of motivation and class consciousness in particular, I argue that his call for a “thinkable politics” can help activists bring problem-driven and solution-driven motives for climate response into productive relation.
February 8, 2020
Not all Humans
Radical Criticism of the Anthropocene Narrative
first published on February 8, 2020
Earth scientists have declared that we are living in “the Anthropocene,” but radical critics object to the implicit attribution of responsibility for climate disruption to all of humanity. They are right to object. Yet, in effort to implicate their preferred villains, their revised narratives often paint an overly narrow picture. Sharing the impulse of radical critics to tell a more precise and political story about how we arrived where we are today, this paper wagers that collective action is more effectively mobilized when we identify multiple agencies and diverse historical processes as sites in need of urgent intervention.
January 18, 2020
Chie Sakakibara, Elise Horensky, Sloane Garelick
Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change
Humanistic Explorations of Cultural Resilience
first published on January 18, 2020
In this essay, we will discuss the lessons that we have learned in a course titled “Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change” regarding Indigenous efforts and epistemologies to cope with stresses and plights induced by global climate change. Primarily informed by humanistic perspectives, we examine how Indigenous peoples, especially those of North America, process climate change through their cultural values and social priorities, with a particular focus on human emotions or feelings associated with their homeland, which often called sense of place or belonging, in contrast to the abstract concepts that originate from the natural sciences.
From a Lifeboat Ethic to Anthropocenean Sensibilities
first published on January 18, 2020
To claim that “humans have become a geological agent,” to worry that “humans are interrupting, refashioning, and accelerating natural processes” is to reinforce metaphysical divides—humans and nature, the cultural and the natural. It is furthermore to reinforce all the narratives from which these divides are animated: modernity, colonialization, enlightenment with their attendant discourses of progress, control, and purity. In its place I advocate Anthropocenean sensibilities. Sensibilities in which our attentiveness to influences and exchanges becomes heightened, where we learn to live in the midst of change, with a new responsiveness to uncertainties that render not-knowing animating rather than paralyzing.
January 10, 2020
Being in the Anthropocene
World Appropriation in the Age of Global Warming
first published on January 10, 2020
We live in the anthropocene, the era of global warming. How are Americans responding to this predicament? To answer the question we need a philosophical concept of a collective mood and then empirical support to make it concrete. The result is a collective ground state. It has gone through the stages of confident prosperity, the dissolution of that confidence, the present state of anxious disorientation, and the hopeful prospect of grounded responsibility.
January 9, 2020
What Needs to Change in Our Thinking about Climate Change (and about Thinking)
first published on January 9, 2020
In this article I argue that, the consciousness of climate change will remain wanting, unless it reaches all the way to the level of self-consciousness. Interrelating the meanings of “climate” and “thinking,” I suggest that only an approach that shuns subjective mastery and distance will be adequate to this peculiar non-object.
The Time of the End and the End of Time
first published on January 9, 2020
The Anthropocene must also be seen as the convergence of the historicization of nature and human historicity, not simply metaphorically, but factually. As historical time is injected in nature (which putatively was beyond historical time) through anthropogenesis, resulting in our having to see nature as a product of a historical process, our understanding of time is being transformed. The Anthropocene must be understood as a temporalization of time tout court. The key concern is what could be called an Anthropocenic matrix of intelligibility and its corresponding image of Anthropos. In the time of the end of time and the time of the end, the new image of humanity is that of a destroyer of world(s).
October 15, 2019
Aldo Leopold and the Human Ecological Relation
first published on October 15, 2019
This article develops the idea of ‘ecological freedom’ from Aldo Leopold’s account of ecological relations in terms of the dual notions of the “freedom from want and fear” and the “freedom to make mistakes.” Through an analysis of Leopold’s thought on technology and civilization, I develop and argue for the claim that direct experience of ecological relations, or ecological freedom, is vital to meaningful human life. The absence of ecological freedom constitutes a form of ecological alienation, which is paired with social alienation. Ecological freedom is then used as a way to understand environmental injustice and critique contemporary environmentalism.
Listening to the Salmon
Latour’s Gaia, Aboriginal Thinking, and the Earth Community
first published on October 15, 2019
When salmon disappear, their loss is felt among many species of animals, trees, and plants. This essay suggests listening to the salmon when it comes to learning how to become better members of the earth community, so that not our presence, but our absence would be a loss to the ecosystems that we dwell in. This argument is made through a discussion of Latour’s Facing Gaia and the Native American philosophy of the Tlingit. Albeit in different terms, both suggest ways to become better participants in a greater unity.
August 28, 2019
Kalpita Bhar Paul
A Heideggerian Perspective on Thinking about Water
Revisiting the Transition from Hydrology to Hydrosocial Nexus
first published on August 28, 2019
It is said that the transition from hydrology to the hydrosocial system has the potential for transforming the way currently water is seen as a natural object. The hydrosocial cycle denotes that we need to think about water beyond the definition of natural objects as the meaning of water emerges from the socio-cultural-political nexus it is embedded in. In this essay by drawing upon Martin Heidegger’s philosophy, I explore whether this transition is capable of changing the way we think about water. To philosophically capture the status of water and the thinking that is associated with it in this transitional moment, I engage with the notion of inceptual thinking, examining its possibilities within the context of this transition. My deliberation will establish that even though the hydrosocial cycle provides us with a unique space and opportunity from which to initiate inceptual thinking about water, the present orientation of hydrosocial scholarship fails to accomplish this objective. I further argue that the possibility to initiate an inceptual thinking arises from the rupture in our thinking, and our empathy toward the ‘in-between’ space of the actor and the thing. This inceptual thinking would lead toward understanding thing as gathering.
August 13, 2019
Populating the Climate
Narrative In and With Climate Models
first published on August 13, 2019
This paper asks whether one way to link abstract scientific knowledge about the climate to the everyday imagination might be to think of climate modelling as a narrative practice. To do so, I draw on philosophical insights about narrative in scientific modelling from Norton Wise and Mary Morgan, to show that models can be deployed narratively, and that their outputs take a followable, embodied narrative form. This suggests that climate models might be deployed in an everyday storytelling practice evoking storyworlds with palpable meteorological actants.
February 7, 2019
Singularisability, Plurality, and Community
first published on February 7, 2019
The chief aim of this essay is to draw attention to how in Derrida’s last seminars the hyphenation “life-death” serves as a key to understanding the force of the hyphenation in the expression “animal-human” and how the work of sharing which it stands for there differs from the exclusively separative work for which we might employ the oblique stroke or slash, as in “animal/human” and “life/death.” If we wonder whether and how the hyphen and the oblique stroke share each other’s company, it might occur to us that a name for this relation of sharing could be John Duns Scotus’s distinctio formalis understood in the light of his haecceitas respelled as ecce-itas by Gerald Manley Hopkins.
January 25, 2019
E-Co-Affectivity Beyond the Anthropocene
Rethinking the Role of Soil to Imagine a New “Us”
first published on January 25, 2019
Following Isabelle Stengers’s call that the anthropocene should make us feel and think differently, this paper focuses on the human task to shift its affective response. Since Stengers calls for a new “us” that seeks to participate in an entanglement, I propose to explore the material and ontogenetic functions of soil, and specifically soil pores, in reimagining a new form of e-co-affectivity. A new e-co-affective response would emphasize the usually hidden fluidity and diachronic time of pores, and, in doing so, cultivate an epistemic and aesthetic sensitivity, deceleration, and percolation.
January 24, 2019
The Human/Animal Logic of Sovereignty
Derrida on Robinson Crusoe
first published on January 24, 2019
This essay offers an analysis of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe read in concert with Derrida’s treatment of the novel in the second volume of The Beast and the Sovereign. Drawing from Derrida while developing insights of my own, I assemble the elements of a unique account and critique of the logic of human sovereignty. Focusing on a crucial moment in both the novel and in Derrida’s reading of it, I argue the thesis that human sovereignty rests upon a logically prior mastery of both non-human animals and subordinated human beings—a relation of mastery I call the human/animal logic of sovereignty.
December 12, 2018
The Ikhwan al-Safa’’s Animal Accusers:
An Islamic Debate On Animal Slavery
first published on December 12, 2018
In the tenth-century Iraqi fable, The Case of the Animals versus Man Before the King of the Jinn, the animals take the human beings to court for mistreatment. The humans ultimately win the case, but not without the animals presenting a series of arguments that continue to resonate despite the ending of the trial. The following essay provides an analysis of a number of these arguments insofar as they contest human abuses of animals within the context of enslavement. It offers evidence on both philosophical and historical grounds for why we need to rethink the received interpretation of the fable’s controversial ending.
November 15, 2018
Lauri Lahikainen, Tero Toivanen
Working the Biosphere
Towards an Environmental Philosophy of Work
first published on November 15, 2018
Humans have arguably become a geological force that is changing the planet in profound and catastrophic ways. But what are the human practices that have such force? In this paper, we argue that work is exactly such a practice and that it is as workers that many of us are agents of global environmental change. When carbon dioxide is emitted or forests are cut down, someone is working. Yet we lack adequate descriptive and normative theories of work to understand how we are a geological force. In this paper, we suggest possible beginnings for an environmental philosophy of work.
September 29, 2018
Ronald Olufemi Badru
Environmental Deficit and Contemporary Nigeria
Evolving an African Political Philosophy for a Sustainable Eco-Democracy
first published on September 29, 2018
Three groups of claims frame this article. First, the Nigerian State is largely enmeshed in environmental deficit, given the substantial oil pollution in the Niger-delta area, the problem of erosion in the Southeast, the filthy status of the Southwest, and the incessantly worrying perturbation of the ecological stability in the Northern part of Nigeria. Second, the political leadership in Nigeria for years has not really given genuine policy priority to, and, on this model, developed a credible framework that the citizenry could buy into to sustainably address the causes and the consequences of the environmental deficit. Third, given the foregoing, this work suggests a re-thinking/re-discussion of approach to the environmental deficit. Drawing on and integrating some relevant ideas, values, and virtues in African metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, the article develops a framework, prescribing how the democratic leadership and the citizenry ought to act in sustainably addressing the environmental deficit. Beyond the philosophic foundations, the framework is also teleologically political: (i) it emphasizes that the moral legitimacy of democratic leadership in Nigeria partly derives from its commitment to the good of the built and natural environment, and (ii) it also stresses that the citizenry could only be good moral agents, as eco-citizens, if they develop the virtues of environmental responsibility and responsiveness, by theoretically and practically supporting the good of the built and the natural environment. The research methods of critical analysis of empirical data and reflective argumentation are adopted to pursue the goals of the work.
September 27, 2018
An Ecosemiotic Critique of Heidegger’s Concept of Enframing
first published on September 27, 2018
This essay presents ecosemiotics as an approach to interpreting Heidegger in environmental philosophy. Comparisons between Heidegger’s philosophy and ecosemiotics have often focused on the 1929–1930 lecture course where Heidegger discusses Jakob von Uexküll’s notion of Umwelt. These and other ecological interpretations reach an impasse with the sharp ontological boundary Heidegger places between Dasein and more-than-human lifeforms. This essay revisits the theme by focusing on a central concept from Heidegger’s later work: enframing [Gestell]. Enframing, it is argued, can be understood as a rupture between human (cultural) and natural signs, which is a consequence of technological modernity. Although this interpretation diverges from Heidegger’s philosophy, such critical readings may be necessary if Heidegger’s work is to speak to today’s technologies and ecological issues.
August 21, 2018
Valentina Gamberi, Lucia Zaietta
An Anthropomorphic Dilemma
A Phenomenological Insight into the Human/Non-Human Symbiosis
first published on August 21, 2018
Can we really transcend our own human point of view in approaching the non-human? Rather than confining anthropomorphism in the field of the superstitious or identifying it with anthropocentrism, we propose a “weak” anthropomorphism. By adopting phenomenology as methodology, particularly Merleau-Ponty’s notions of corporeity and flesh, we suggest that anthropomorphism is the result of a shared bodily perception: first of all, we are-in-the-world. What we have is not a divide between the human and the non-human, but rather a blurred and fuzzy compound of human and non-human features, where the wild coincides with this symbiotic unit.
July 20, 2018
Three Unequal Footnotes to Derrida
first published on July 20, 2018
This article examines three textual moments that might plausibly have found their way into Derrida’s late Beast and Sovereign seminars, but that Derrida appears to avoid or overlook. Aristotle’s discussion in the Politics of the “One Best Man” scenario is placed in the context of his earlier characterizations of the naturally apolitical man as akin either to a beast or to a god; Bataille’s late descriptions of sovereignty as a kind of self-perverting hyperbolic structure are juxtaposed with some of Derrida’s own formulations about sovereign autoimmunity; Heidegger’s discussion, in a seminar nominally about Hölderlin, of a striking formula from Sophocles (hupsipolis apolis) is shown to capture something of the “outlaw” status of the sovereign as Derrida describes it.
July 6, 2018
Grids of Power
Toward a Phenomenology of Fuel
first published on July 6, 2018
The word “power” tends toward divergent formations, and this paper is prompted by the intersection of two of them. The first form taken up here is power as control, while the second form is material power as fuel. The typical modern configuration of the first form implies an understanding of the second form as subordinate. But what I argue here is that insofar as fuel is a condition of the possibility of being human, the identity of the human being has always been embedded in an assemblage consisting of fuel-subject/intersubject.
June 27, 2018
Neither Beast nor Sovereign
Wallace Stevens’s Birds
first published on June 27, 2018
This essay combines deconstruction (chiefly the later work of Jacques Derrida) and systems theory (both social and biological systems theory) to rethink the question of ecological poetics in the work of Wallace Stevens, and in particular some of his most important poems that focus on birds and bird song. Ecocriticism has typically approached literature in general and poetry in particular in terms of its representation of nature. This essay argues for a non-representationalist ecopoetics that derives from replacing the concept of “nature” with the systems theory concept of “environment” (a term that applies equally to human and non-human forms of life). This theoretical shift allows us, in turn, to better understand the relationship of poetry and poetics to the “worlds” in which humans and non-humans live (to borrow the term that stretches from Jakob von Uexküll to Heidegger and then to Derrida).
June 12, 2018
The Wolf, the Marionette, the Specter
first published on June 12, 2018
There are two concepts of sovereignty in Derrida’s work: the classical form that posits itself as absolute mastery, whether by means of surveillance, technology, or “truth”; and the more paradoxical, subversive form inspired by Nietzsche and Bataille that simultaneously inhabits and exceeds the control mechanisms imposed upon it. One of the questions that I will pursue throughout this essay is whether such a distinction is valid. As there is something immeasurable apropos of Derrida’s second concept, I will contend that any distinction between it and the first concept is not only “undecidable” but ultimately impossible to make.
May 15, 2018
And Say the Animal Resisted? Derrida, Biopolitics, and the Problem with Species
first published on May 15, 2018
My article does two things: 1) tracks Derrida’s claim that biopolitical and sovereign power use species taxonomies to performatively depoliticize and ignore the reciprocity of creaturely perspectives; and 2) argues Derrida makes possible a deconstruction of species, and demonstrates its necessity for better political futures. To do this, I follow Derrida’s criticism of autopsic logics and the circularity of metaphysics and zoology, and his affirmation of embodied singularity. Finally, I start and end with analyses of cetacean suicide: by privileging how others see themselves and us over our perspective of them, Derrida challenges what counts as political and who decides.
Who/What is Bête? From an Uncanny Word to an Interanimal Ethics
first published on May 15, 2018
The deconstruction of stupidity [in French bêtise] plays a crucial role in Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign. Through the concept of stupidity/bêtise the violence of our relationship with others, as inseparable from our relation to animality comes into view. “Stupidity” is deeply political, but also directly connected to the trace and, thus, cannot be simply overcome. While Sartre claimed that there are no fools, but just wicked men, Derrida embraces an uncanny version of stupidity. In this paper, guided by Derrida’s reflections, we will examine the many paradoxes that undermine the pseudo-concept of stupidity, as well as several key moments of its history in Schelling’s, Nietzsche’s, Sartre’s, and Deleuze’s philosophies. Eventually our purpose will be to display the ethical statements which can be extrapolated from Derrida’s perspective: when the world is gone, how can we carry stupidity?
May 11, 2018
Bringing Levinas Down to Earth
A Jonasian Reading of the Face
first published on May 11, 2018
This paper adds to the critical work on the relationship between Hans Jonas and Emmanuel Levinas by arguing that the experience of the face of the other can be made compatible with Jonas’s understanding of metabolism thus allowing for an extension of who counts as an other to include all organic life forms. Although this extension will allow for a broadening of ethical patients on one side, we will see that a corresponding broadening of ethical agents on the other side will prove to be more difficult owing to the exceptionality of the human being that they both maintain and believe is expressed through the experience of responsibility.
May 2, 2018
On Sharing a World with Other Animals
first published on May 2, 2018
Challenging Heidegger’s thesis that animals are poor in world while humans are world-building, in The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume II, Jacques Derrida claims that each singular living being inhabits its own solitary world, its own desert island. There, he claims both, on the one hand, that animals share our world and may be world-building and, on the other, that we cannot be certain that human beings share a world or are world-building (at least not in Heidegger’s sense as set apart from animals). In this article, I trace the ethical implications of Derrida’s seemingly contradictory claims that we both share a world, and that each singular being, like an island, is a world unto itself.
April 27, 2018
Hyperbole and Ellipses
Derrida and Agamben on Sovereignty and Life
first published on April 27, 2018
The essay argues for a nuanced understanding of the notorious dissonance between Derrida and Agamben despite their shared interest in troubling the metaphysical separation between human and animal. I argue that a close scrutiny of their differing strategies towards the matrix of framing issues (such as sovereignty and violence) is salient for keeping the ontological question of species difference open. I suggest that the dissonance between the two thinkers is best understood in relation to systemic and rhetorical effects—namely, the encompassing figure of the circle that structures sovereignty, and the rhetoric of hyperbole that disfigures the circle into an ellipse and the line. This ironic interplay appears through their mutually dissonant readings of the localization of life (human and animal) and the situation of power and violence in relation to sovereignty.
April 10, 2018
Poetry, Vegetality, Relief From Being
first published on April 10, 2018
In ancient Greek ecological thought, vegetality is the most basic ground of life. It is followed by animality and rationality as increasingly active, self-aware forms of life. An ontology of forms of life need not justify a hierarchy among actual living beings, but in practice it often does. This paper shows how the poetic representation of plants resists this slippage. Poetry offers human beings an ecstasis from their own animality so that they can apprehend their participation in the vegetality of living beings as a whole.
April 6, 2018
Three Types of Anthropocentrism
first published on April 6, 2018
This paper develops a language for distinguishing more rigorously between various senses of the term ‘anthropocentrism.’ Specifically, it differentiates between:
1. Perceptual anthropocentrism (which characterizes paradigms informed by sense-data from human sensory organs);
2. Descriptive anthropocentrism (which characterizes paradigms that begin from, center upon, or are ordered around Homo sapiens / ‘the human’)
3. Normative anthropocentrism (which characterizes paradigms that constrain inquiry in a way that somehow privileges Homo sapiens / ‘the human’ [passive normative anthropocentrism]; and which characterizes paradigms that make assumptions or assertions about the superiority of Homo sapiens, its capacities, the primacy of its values, its position in the universe, and/or make prescriptions based on these assertions and assumptions [active normative anthropocentrism]).
April 4, 2018
A Tapestry of Concealments
Barkskins as Anthropocene Fiction
first published on April 4, 2018
The Good Anthropocene is a position taken up by a diverse collection of writers, social scientists, and philosophers. Their claim is that the Anthropocene should be embraced as a more or less positive development in the history of our species. This paper pushes back against the narrative of the Good Anthropocene. But rather than confront its advocates directly, I will come at the contest obliquely. I present a Heideggerian interpretation of Annie Proulx’s Barkskins, a multi-generational novel centered on the deforestation of North America. From a Heideggerian perspective, we notice that the present historical epoch has involved a threefold concealment: of the burgeoning catastrophe of climate change, of the co-optation of conservationism by capitalism, and of the ethnocide of the continent’s indigenous inhabitants.
March 27, 2018
Christina M. Gschwandtner
Can We Learn to Hear Ethical Calls? In Honor of Scott Cameron
first published on March 27, 2018
This article tries to grapple with the difficulty of hearing the call of the other and recognizing it as a call that obligates us to ethical response, especially when such a “call” is not issued by a human other but by other species or environmental precarity more broadly. I briefly review how ethical responsibility is articulated by Emmanuel Lévinas and then consider some of the ways in which his philosophy has been applied to environmental questions. I suggest that while some calls might be obvious and obligate by the blatant need almost impossible to ignore, in many cases a hermeneutic context and predisposition is required in order to “hear” a call and understand it as ethically obligating. I conclude with one example of how it might be possible to inculcate such dispositions that would attune us to more careful hearing and might cause us to recognize ethical obligation.
March 14, 2018
Doing without Nature
On Interpretation and Practice
first published on March 14, 2018
Sorry that he is no longer here to read it, I consider in this paper Scott Cameron’s discussion of my views questioning the value of the concept of “nature” for environmental philosophy. Scott had suggested, based on arguments from hermeneutics, that although we never have access to a nature independent of our interpretations of it, still the existence of such a nature is necessarily presupposed by all such interpretations. I claim in response that if we replace the (idealist) notion of interpretation by the (materialist) one of practice, that presupposition is no longer necessary: the independence required is built into the notion of practice itself, and need not be seen as a characteristic of the world “outside” of us.
February 27, 2018
Sean J. McGrath
In Defense of the Human Difference
first published on February 27, 2018
Against the prevalent trend in eco-criticism which is to deny the human difference, I summon a set of untimely tropes from metaphysics in the interest of advancing an ecological humanism: the difference in kind between human consciousness and animal sensibility; the uniquely human capacity for moral discernment; and the human being’s peculiar freedom from the material conditions of existence. While I agree with eco-critics who argue that anthropocenic nature is not only finite, but sick: sickened by our abuse and neglect, I disagree that this abuse is simply a result of insisting on the human difference (“anthropocentrism”), nor is species egalitarianism the way forward. On the contrary, the eco-collapse, referred to as the sixth great extinction event, is the consequence of a general disavowal of the human’s special call to take responsibility for the relation between the human and the non-human, and only a re-awakening of this responsibility can restore health to anthropocenic nature. The non-human cannot effect this restoration, for that is not its vocation. A difference in vocation is not necessarily a difference in moral worth, and so the human difference does not justify denying the “intrinsic value” of the non-human. Humanity is uniquely responsible both for the mess we are in and for cleaning it up.
Is Nature Natural? And Other Linguistic Conundrums
Scott Cameron’s Hermeneutic Defense of the Concept of Nature
first published on February 27, 2018
One of Scott Cameron’s most recent contributions to environmental hermeneutics (a field in which he was a founding scholar) was to defend the concept of nature against those who would argue that it should be abandoned in order to stave off the ecological destruction. Rather than jettison nature as an outdated and unhelpful construct, Cameron argued for its redemption based on Gadamer’s hermeneutical insights into language. In this article, I will look at Cameron’s arguments against Steven Vogel as well as particular points made against nature as a concept recently articulated by Slavoj Žižek and Timothy Morton. I will follow these arguments through, demonstrating that while the arguments can be accepted and are, indeed, accurate, the conclusion that the concept of nature be abandoned need not and should not be conceded. Finally, I will return to Cameron’s hermeneutic defense of a concept of nature and expand further on his insights and arguments. With Cameron, I conclude that the concept of nature can be redeemed. Extending Cameron’s line of reasoning, I argue that this aim is accomplished by refiguring the concept of nature with the insights offered by philosophical hermeneutics.
December 19, 2017
Urban Mobility—Urban Discovery
A Phenomenological Aesthetics for Urban Environments
first published on December 19, 2017
In this paper I investigate how different modes of urban transportation shape our experience of the urban environment. My goal is to argue that how we move through a space is not merely a question of convenience or efficiency. Rather, our transportation technologies can fundamentally shift how we experience where we are. I propose a framework for considering mobility from the standpoint of phenomenological everyday aesthetics considering the social, somatic, temporal-epistemic, and affective characteristics of experience. I then suggest a typology of different forms of urban mobility distinguishing between private and public forms of transportation as well as between faster and slower modes. I next suggest a trio of factors—speed, ability to survey one’s surroundings, and ease of interruption—that play into how we experience an urban environment while discovering it by means of mobility. By applying the framework of experience and the trio of factors to the typology of transportation modes I show how each of them can foster or hinder an aesthetic experience of the urban environment. I conclude by reflecting on some further issues for investigation including the role of power in urban space, questions concerning mobility and difference (class, race, dis/ability, etc.), the place of technological mediation in urban mobility, and the role of spatial planning.
December 13, 2017
Chandler D. Rogers
first published on December 13, 2017
As boundaries between domesticity and the undomesticated increasingly blur for cohabitants of Vancouver Island, home to North America’s densest cougar population, predatorial problems become more and more pressing. Rosemary-Claire Collard responds on a pragmatic plane, arguing that the encounter between human and cougar is only ever destructive, that contact results in death and almost always for the cougar. Advocating for vigilance in policing boundaries separating cougar from civilization, therefore, she looks to Foucault’s analysis of modern biopower in the first volume of his History of Sexuality for support in favor of a more contemporary notion of biosecurity. In response to Collard’s arguments, concerned with ethical conclusions drawn on the basis of her policy-based proposal, I challenge the prohibition she places on encounter. In the first section, “Becoming Killable,” I address her use of Donna Haraway’s phraseology, and in the second section, “Biological Dangers,” I scrutinize her reading of Foucault, arguing that the appeals she makes distort the mode of argumentation at work for each thinker. The final section, “Facing Cougar, Facing Death,” advocates further ethical possibilities generated on the basis of Foucault’s correlation between overcoming the fear of death and resisting abuses of power with respect to others. My contention is that our transgressing boundaries constructed to separate humanity from the inhumane curtails tendencies toward the marginalization and subjugation of those animal others whose very existence brings us face to face with the fact of our own mortality.
October 19, 2017
Blue Architectures (The City and the Wild in Concentrate)
first published on October 19, 2017
It is more than a coincidence that in his two essays, “Wilderness and the City: Not such a Long Drive After All” and “Can Cities Be Both Natural and Successful? Reflections Grounding Two Apparently Oxymoronic Aspirations,” Scott Cameron looks to water as a basis for evaluating the city in relationship to the wild and in imagining new possibilities for urban nature. In an attempt to complement and enrich Cameron’s thinking, this essay focuses on emerging, decentralized and ecologically responsive approaches to water and wastewater systems in architectural projects in dense urban environments. Such an emphasis on “blue architectures” allows for a reframing of the city/nature relationship in terms of degrees of concentration—of water, organisms, and pollutants—as a precursor to considerations of distances involved (“not such a long drive”). To concentrate on localized hydrologic conditions is to support the integrity of broader scale ecological systems and to reconnect urban dwellers to processes that bear directly on the wild.
September 19, 2017
Spinoza, Ecology, and Immanent Ethics
Beside Moral Considerability
first published on September 19, 2017
This paper develops an immanent ecological ethics that locates human flourishing within sustaining ecological relationships. I outline the features of an immanent ethics drawn from Spinoza, and indicate how this model addresses gaps left by approaches based in moral considerability. I argue that an immanent ecological ethics provides unique resources for contesting anthropogenic harm, by 1) shifting the focus from what qualifies as a moral subject to what bodies can or cannot do under particular relations, 2) emphasizing the constitutive role of interaction and interdependence in ecosystemic existence, and 3) extending ethical regard to ecologically-ramified scales.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Individual Excusable Ignorance after 1990
A Study of Excusable Ignorance in Collective Action Problems
first published on September 19, 2017
The thesis of this paper is that individual emitters, in contrast to governments, may be justified in employing excusable ignorance as an excuse after 1990 and even well into the future. Although it may at first seem counterintuitive, this is not only true of individuals with extremely limited access to information but potentially also of highly educated individuals with almost boundless access to data, reports, and analyses. I develop the argument based on an influential account of excusable ignorance and discuss and reject an objection from expert testimony.
September 12, 2017
Reading Nietzsche against New Conservationism
first published on September 12, 2017
This article interprets David E. Storey’s foundation of an environmental ethic on Nietzsche’s philosophy of life as a version of new conservationism. Critically examining Storey’s various claims, the article demonstrates potentially problematic aspects of the new conservationist project. In order to both question Storey’s interpretation of a Nietzschean philosophy of life and problematize the new conservationist understanding of nature, this article returns to the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. In particular, it argues from a Nietzschean perspective that the new conservationist projection of human teleology and values onto wild nature and non-human life results in a nihilistic conception of wild nature.
The Poetics of Biomimicry
The Contribution of Poetic Concepts to Philosophical Inquiry into the Biomimetic Principle of Nature as Model
first published on September 12, 2017
The Ancient Greeks understood both art and technology (techne) as imitation (mimesis) of Nature (physis). This article argues that the rapidly growing ecological innovation strategy known as biomimicry makes it possible for technology to leave behind the modern goal of “mastering and possessing” Nature and instead to rediscover the initial vocation it shared with art: imitating Nature. This in turn suggests a general strategy for philosophical inquiry into the biomimetic principle of “Nature as model”: the transposition of philosophical analyses of concepts associated primarily with poetics and related fields—mimesis, mimicry, translation, analogy, metaphor, etc.—into the philosophy of biomimicry.
September 8, 2017
Responsibility and the Ethics of Ecological Restoration
first published on September 8, 2017
This paper argues that the concept of responsibility can and should ground an ethics of ecological restoration. It starts with William Jordan’s concept of restoration, namely the creation of mutually beneficial human-nature relationships. It builds a concept of responsibility using the works of Hans Jonas and Martin Drenthen, understood as a correlate of our technological capacity, as well as a relationship to the possibility of meaningfulness today and in the indefinite future. It is argued that we are responsible in a deep sense for engaging in projects of restoration in order to ensure the survival of embodied meaningfulness in the world.
September 1, 2017
Andrew F. Smith
From Victims to Survivors? Struggling to Live Ecoconsciously in an Ecocidal Culture
first published on September 1, 2017
It’s hardly news that settler culture normalizes ecocide. Those of us raised as settlers who are nevertheless ecoconscious routinely blame ourselves for our failure to live up to our own best expectations when it comes to challenging the norms and practices of our culture. This leads us to overlook that we’re also—and, I think, much more so—among its victims. I outline five manifestations of victimhood routinely exhibited by the ecoconscious settler activists, scholars, and students with whom I interact. I then consider how we can transition from being victims to survivors of our culture, which is vital for ending ecocide. These two concepts, victimhood and survivorship, are regularly juxtaposed when discussing recovery for those subject to abuse, violence, and other trauma-inducing phenomena. Together they provide the basis for a clearer understanding of how we ecoconscious settlers should engage in the ongoing fight for our lives and our futures.
April 25, 2017
Visibility Sometimes Wandering and Sometimes Reassembled
On Being in Rain
first published on April 25, 2017
If we attend to things only in terms of their bearing on our own projects then our experience of them will be filtered through their compatibility or incompatibility with those aims. This essay is about the experience of rain in the northern latitudes and the work is built around a phenomenological description that relies on accounts of direct experience which are then considered through Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s conception of flesh. In thinking through the phenomenon in this way, the overlapping nature of interior and exterior “reality” (and thereby human and world) can be foregrounded and the notion of a dichotomy between these realms, undermined.
April 7, 2017
An Unintended Race
Miracle Rice and the Green Revolution
first published on April 7, 2017
Engineered for fast harvests and high yields through chemicals, miracle rice triggered a green revolution throughout Southeast Asia and one of the largest anthropogenic disturbances to the nitrogen cycle in the twentieth century. This article considers the green revolution as an event of more-than-human temporalities, an aleatory formation of vegetal, animal, chemical, and human coordinations that has become a world-changing conjuncture. I present the formation as an unintended race—that is, an interplay of differential speeds. I offer a countermodernist account of structural transformation, doing history otherwise, to challenge anthropocentric narratives of progress and call attention to contingent multispecies coordinations that drive modernity’s acceleration.
March 21, 2017
A Melancholic Reading of De-Extinction Projects
first published on March 21, 2017
This essay examines the relationship between human and nonhuman animals in the context of de-extinction projects. Following van Dooren and Rose’s (2015) suggestion that de-extinction projects are reluctant to engage with mourning work, I argue that these scientific endeavours can be understood as inherently melancholic. In reading them as such, I focus on the concepts of identification and ambivalence central to Freud’s theorisation of melancholia, and argue that looking at these key ideas in relation to de-extinction reveals the way that notions of human exceptionalism can be problematized by a psychoanalytic reading of these projects.
March 17, 2017
Mars Fiction and Experiments with Life on Earth
first published on March 17, 2017
This paper explores examples of Mars fiction of “terraforming”—of creating Earth-like environments in space—against the background of the Earth’s environmental degradation and restoration. Visions of Mars settlement offered an escape route for a threatened humanity and a blueprint for the eco-technological recreation of the Earth’s environment. This paper aims to outline the Anthropocene as an epoch that not only compromised the Earth but also essentially transformed the understanding of Earthly life to a minimalist principle of survival through infinite metabolic conversions. This understanding of immortality conjoined images of recreation and creation, of paradisiacal pasts and eco-technological futures.
March 11, 2017
Veganism, Normative Change, and Second Nature
first published on March 11, 2017
This paper draws on the account of second nature in Aristotle, Dewey and Hegel to examine the way in which norms become embodied. It discusses the implications of this for both the authority of norms and how they can be changed. Using the example of veganism it argues that changing norms requires more than just good reasons. The appreciation of the role of second nature in culture allows us to: firstly, better conceive the difficulty and resistance of individuals to changing norms because of the material resilience of norms, habits and customs in a culture. Secondly, it argues that the effective adoption of a new norm such as veganism or the behavioral change necessary to respond to climate change, requires not just more good reasons but the creation of material pathways in the culture in which those revised norms can be inhabited.
March 8, 2017
Art and Metabolic Force in Deep Time Environments
first published on March 8, 2017
Contemporary art practices which take into consideration both biological and geological perspectives on the environment offer an inspiring contribution to the growing geological awareness in the humanities. By drawing attention to the role of metabolic forces in evolution, including inorganic activity, artists enquire into the geological past and future of the earth and beyond. Their work suggests that in a time of environmental crisis, it is particularly important to design future metabolic networks for ourselves and non-human others aimed not only at waste reduction and energy efficiency, but also prioritizing multispecies alliances beyond the biological.
December 15, 2016
John Charle Ryan
That Seed Sets Time Ablaze
Vegetal Temporality in Judith Wright’s Botanical Poetics
first published on December 15, 2016
The time of vegetal life itself—denoted as plant-time in this article, following the work of Michael Marder—is essential to human-plant relations. Conceptualized as a multi-dimensional plexity, vegetal temporality embodies the endemic land-based seasons, rhythms, cycles, and timescales of flora in conjunction with human patterns. The contemporary poet Judith Wright invoked a time-space continuum throughout her writing as a means to convey the primordial character of Australian plants while resisting the imposition of a colonialist schema of time. Wright’s bold textualization of vegetal temporality embodies her commitment to fostering botanical ethics and locally-grounded activism on behalf of Aboriginal people and the Australian environment.
The Six Extinctions
Visualizing Planetary Ecological Crisis Today
first published on December 15, 2016
This article examines the visualization strategies informing public understandings of planetary scale ecological crisis. Working with scientific visualizations as well as the Suicide Narcissus art exhibition, it interrogates the inherent problems in conveying extinction as a process and future potential. This essay ultimately considers the psychosocial tensions inherent in contemplating collective death.
December 6, 2016
Endling, the Power of the Last in an Extinction-Prone World
first published on December 6, 2016
In April 1996, two men working at a convalescent center wrote a letter to the journal Nature proposing that a new word be adopted to designate a person who is the last in the lineage: endling. This had come up because of patients who were dying and thought of themselves as the last of their family line. The word was not picked up in medical circles. But, in 2001, when the National Museum of Australia (NMA) opened its doors, it featured a gallery called Tangled Destinies and endling reappeared. On the wall facing a case with a thylacine specimen was written: Endling (n.) The last surviving individual of a species of animal or plant. Since that appearance, the word endling has slowly seeped into popular culture, appearing in symphonic music, performance art, science fiction stories, comics, and other art works. This paper examines the cultural power of the concept of endling as the last of a species and the history of its mobilization in a world facing extinction around every corner.
November 8, 2016
David Maggs, John Robinson
Recalibrating the Anthropocene
Sustainability in an Imaginary World
first published on November 8, 2016
Geologically speaking, the Anthropocene marks the end of the Holocene period, a time of great planetary stability. Conceptually speaking,
the Anthropocene marks the end of the Modernist period, a time of great epistemic stability. As scientific framings of sustainability strain under anthropocenic realities, reconceptualizing sustainability may be necessary. By positioning human/nature relations beyond Modernist dichotomies underpinning scientific discourse, the implications of the Anthropocene shift from methodological to ontological, dislodging sustainability from its traditional scientific foundations. To this, we propose new stability through four interlinked approaches to sustainability’s complex challenges, offering a framework for thought and action beyond Modernist framings of sustainability and opening essential roles to often-marginalized interpretive social sciences and humanities.
October 4, 2016
The Virtue of Burden and Limits of Gelassenheit: The Complex Case for Heideggerian Environmental Ethics
first published on October 4, 2016
Since the 1980s, numerous scholars have applied the thought of Heidegger to environmental ethics—in particular, his critique of modern technology and his concept of ‘releasement.’ In this paper, I argue that these are an insufficient foundation for environmental ethics because they overlook a violence and destructiveness that is inextricable from our finite existence. Despite this critique, I claim that Heidegger’s analyses of violence in the 1930s and guilt in Being and Time can address some of these insufficiencies. To further develop the ethical potential of his philosophy, I bring it into dialogue with environmental virtue ethics.