The Philosophy of Anti‑Dumping as the Affirmation of Life

Biosemiotics 16:1-21 (2023)
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Michael Marder in Dump Philosophy claims that that there has been so much dumping with modern civilization that we now live in a dump, with those parts of our environment not contaminated by dumping, now rare. The growth of the dump is portrayed as the triumph of nihilism, predicted by Nietzsche as the outcome of life denying Neoplatonist metaphysics. Marder’s proposed solution, characterized as “undumping”, is to accept the dump and to promote reinterpretations and informal communities within the dump. It is argued here that Marder provides great insight into our current situation and its causes; however, his proposed solution is too weak. To respond to the situation described, it is argued, it is necessary to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy dumping, or more broadly, healthy and unhealthy participation in nature. To make this distinction, it is necessary see humans as ecosystems and components of ecosystems, including the global ecosystem, as these have been characterized by anti-reductionist ecologists. Ecosystems can be healthy or unhealthy. Dumping and dumps should be identified as problematic outputs when they damage the health of ecosystems. The products of human activity not destined to be consumed or used for further productive activity, can then be identified and judged according to whether they augment or damage ecosystems’ health. Dumping should be severely restricted. This should be associated with making a commitment to life and its value, and living to augment life, developing the social and economic forms and institutions that facilitate living in this way.

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Arran Gare
Swinburne University of Technology


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