“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Anthropocentrism 101

"Humans are niche creators. We transform ecosystems to sustain ourselves. This is what we do and have always done." Erle Ellis

From the New York Times today. Thanks Cliff. The trouble is, this chap went over to the humanistic side of things, where it's Harold and the Purple Crayon time. Which is not an old thought at all. He jumped ship from Malthusian biology. 

 But ants are niche creators. Ducks are niche creators. Bacteria are niche creators. 

The thing is not to laud humans as niche creators (Zizek, Marx, this chap). Everything is at it! Correlationism for all! 

The fact that we are niche creators (and correlationists to boot) is not the reason why we are unique or good. Niche creating, like "worlding," should not be a normative category. The Assad regime is a niche creator. 

The thing is to wonder why an elephant or a polar bear should put up with the kind of niche creating going down in our neck of the woods. 

The pro-modernity argument now goes: "Hey listen. I know we've screwed Earth. But let's please do it again. In a better way this time! Please let us! We can do anything. We can be Doctor Jekyll this time, not Mr. Hyde! Promise!"

Population is the problem, insofar as the "Hey we can do this without using more land" is still predicated on the idea that existence is better than quality--so that more existing (humans) is always better. 

1 comment:

Derek Woods said...

His focus on the agricultural time scale seems to smooth over the qualitative difference of the industrial revolution.