Reclaiming the Entangled Colors of Life in the Face of the Anthropocene
The questions raised by the Anthropocene are intimately connected to reconfiguring our relationship to life on earth.
Setting aside half the Earth for ‘rewilding’: the ethical dimension
EO Wilson's moral argument for restoring biodiversity Earth.
Bruno Latour: What are the optimal interrelations of art, science and politics in the Anthropocene?
Philosopher Bruno Latour argues that the fundamental relations between art, science and politics in the Anthropocene have not changed since the 18th and 19th centuries when the crucial inventions of class, citizenship and the social question, among others, were made possible by a range of equally important actors, from novelists and political philosophers to statisticians and geographers. What may seem to complicate this fundamental relation among art, science and politics in the Anthropocene is a certain lagging or disparate sensitivity to these three aesthetics in our handling of what Latour calls the ‘ecological questions’ of our age. Such questions seem to have moved to the center of contemporary discussion and debate (as has their need for political resolution and action). Yet by and large most participants in the conversations are not yet sensitive to these so-called ecological phenomena in line with the aesthetic demands of art, science and politics. Our ecological discourse, Latour seems to suggest, is too rudimentary and needs to mature.
Can humans overcome their differences to face the challenges of the Anthropocene?
Environmental anthropologist Gísli Pálsson unpacks some knotty assumptions that need to be worked out if the international community is to manage a coherent response to the challenges of the Anthropocene. One of these is the problematic notion of human unity — the “we” too often casually assumed — in light of the diversity of geographical, cultural, political and socio-economic differences in human groups and societies around the globe. Another is the notion of science, which he asserts is already losing the capital “S” in response to a growing need to unite disciplines and varieties of knowledge represented by social sciences, literary scholarship, and the humanities in the broadest sense, as well as other communities not part of the academic establishment of specialists. Such refinements in our thinking and assumptions may need to be embraced, he suggests, if we are to come to terms with the new challenges facing humanities and the planet in the Anthropocene.
What historical concepts can help us negotiate the implications of the Anthropocene?
Environmental anthropologist Gísli Pálsson reflects on the ancient Greek concept of
(housekeeping / household economy), from which the modern concepts both of economy and ecology derive, as potentially holding a renewed relevance in the Anthropocene. With human beings searching for solutions to wicked problems in a world in which ‘planetary boundaries’ have become a priority consideration, we may find in this root concept of
a new tool in an ancient sheath as we actively rethink and reexplore our bonds to the earth and to each other.
Gísli Pálsson: What brought on the project “Reconceptualizing the ‘Anthropos’ in the Anthropocene”?
Environmental anthropologist Gísli Pálsson describes the rationale behind the project “Reconceptualizing the ‘Anthropos’ in the Anthropocene,” One of the first major calls to integrate social science and humanities more fully in global changer research. The general acknowledgement from the scientific community that “humans are the key actors in refashioning the planet, in generating the problems we face from global warming, pollution, etc,” argued Pálsson and his co-authors in this 2013 article, makes the necessity of drawing on the expertise of social sciences and humanities (SSH) specialists more obvious and more urgent than ever. This development has potentially far-ranging implications not only for the SSH research communities, but also for science and the global change research agenda more generally.
Can the agora be reclaimed as a space for global advancement on ecological questions?
Philosopher Bruno Latour discusses the anthropocentric limitations of the agora concept in the context of ecological questions, noting that the reason why the agora is empty is because it’s still humans talking to humans about human things and not about things more generally, the entities with which we share our lives. He suggests that instead of attempting to resuscitate the agora, we should turn to the old Norse/Nordic concept of the Ting (Old Norse/Icelandic þing) as a model better suited to the challenges of the Anthropocene.
Can new stories remake the world?
Environmental humanities scholar and theater director Frédérique Aït-Touati discusses how new stories, as much in research as in art, can help to shape new realities in the world, breaking powerful structures to which the terrible stories of the past still chain us.