“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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ecology and Philosophy

I'm teaching this graduate class next term. 

ENGL 591
Ecology and Philosophy
Timothy Morton

The current ecological crisis (maybe “crisis” is far too limited a term) means that humans are undergoing an upgrade in how they think and feel about nonhuman beings. An upgrade, whether they like it or not, and whether they are aware of it or not: even Rush Limbaugh needs to wear sunscreen.

The crisis in ecological awareness is thus also a crisis in philosophy. For the last two hundred years, a very interesting movement and counter-movement has evolved within philosophy. This dynamic is about how we allow lifeforms into thought, into our ethical and political concern, and into social space.

Furthermore, it's quite clear that we live in a set of overlapping, often contradictory, philosophies embodied in fields, food, energy, the way we talk to cats, how we make art and what we do (or don't do) about toilets, meat, and ice (and so on). These embodied philosophies make up a 12 000-year pattern.

This class will complicate and clarify your ability to engage with nonhuman beings.
You will improve your ability to think and reflect, and allow yourself to be wrong, or puzzled, or curious.

You will understand a living tradition that deeply affects the biosphere, of which theory is a somewhat narrow bandwidth. And make ideas about what to do about it.


Letie Ocir said...


Ibis said...

Have you considered podcasting this, like Dreyfus does with his stuff?

Ibis said...

Have you considered podcasting this like Dreyfus does with his stuff?