How Could We Drink up the Sea? From Technological Nihilism to Dwelling in the Anthropocene

Das Questoes 13 (1):12-29 (2021)
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Humans face wide ranging and global challenges in the Anthropocene, the most prominent of which is anthropogenic climate change. One initial pivot towards sustainability, particularly in my home country of the United States, has been to rely heavily on technological innovation powered most obviously by engineers. Using the climate activist Greta Thunberg's speech at the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference as my inspiration, I try to show how some of the technology based solutions only entrench what I call the “Bestance” mentality, that is, the fundamental stance or orientation toward the natural world in the Anthropocene wherein all entities show up as mere resources. Upon showing the various ways in which traditional ethical approaches and environmental philosophical approaches have proved unhelpful in navigating the challenges of the Anthropocene, I try to demonstrate and how a Heideggerian ecophenomenological approach can help us not only understand how the world appears to many of us in the Anthropocene, but also what a more graceful way of being might look like in Heidegger's concept of “dwelling.” Using specific examples of current technologies pervasively normalized in the United States, including hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, desalination, and artificial nitrogen based fertilization, I use Heidegger's philosophical concepts to show how the land, sea, and air can show up as Bestand in the Anthropocene, that is, merely materials on hand to be manipulated in order to serve human interests.

Author's Profile

Casey Rentmeester
University of South Florida (PhD)


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