ecomodernism and the libidinal economy: Towards a Critical Conception of Technology in the Bio‑Based Economy

Philosophy and Technology (2023)
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In this paper, we carry out a critical analysis of the concept of technology in the current design of the bio-based economy (BBE). Looking at the current status of the BBE, we observe a dominant focus on technological innovation as the principal solution to climatic instability. We take a critical stance towards this “ecomodernist” worldview, addressing its fundamental assumptions, and ofer an underarticulated explanation as to why a successful transition toward a sustainable BBE—i.e. one that fully operates within the Earth’s carrying capacity—has not yet been reached. Bernard Stiegler has developed a philosophical perspective on the concept of economy, broadening it to include the human condition through the notion of desire. This theory can help to obtain a more profound understanding of why ecomodernist strategies are dominant today. Stiegler’s theory of the libidinal economy ofers an analysis of controlled and exploited human desire as a primary driver behind modern techno-economic structures. Our hypothesis is that a critique of contemporary technofxism as a critique of libidinal economy is a necessary step to take in the discussion around the BBE as a concept, if the BBE is ever to bring about a system that can truly operate within the Earth’s carrying capacity.

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Pieter Lemmens
Wageningen University and Research


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