Geoethics beyond enmeshment: Critical Reflections on the post-humanist position in the Anthropocene

In Geo-Societal Narratives. cham: pp. 29-54 (2021)
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In philosophical reflections on geoethics, it is primarily the question of what it means to be ‘part’ of the Earth system that is critically reflected upon. As the current geological era of the Anthropocene disrupts the dichotomy between Human agency and the Earth system, philosophers criticise a humanist account of geoethics and call for a post-humanist account. In this chapter, we critically engage with one specific proponent of the post-humanist position, Timothy Morton. We introduce his version of the post-humanist position by focussing on his call for the ‘end-of-the-world’ in the Anthropocene. We subsequently criticise Morton’s rejection of the World for three reasons. We show that the emergence of the Anthropocene is primarily an ontological phenomenon, namely a shift in our ‘being-in-the-world’ and that the concept of World is needed to understand the meaning of our ‘being-in-the-Anthropocene’ in contrast with our ‘being-in-the-Holocene’. We introduce a twofold between our ‘being-in-the-world’ as a symmetric relation and our ‘being-on-Earth’ as an asymmetric relation that constitutes our ‘being-in-the-Anthropocene’. This asymmetry disrupts the post-humanist position and calls for a conceptualisation of the human ethos beyond the post-humanist position. This conceptualisation of the human ethos also has consequences for our understanding of geoethics as geo-ethos.

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Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research


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