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What is the Right Ontology for the Anthropocene?

Dr. Elena Tripaldi, Freie Universität Berlin, Philosophie (WE 1) 


Since the definition of our geological era as 'Anthropocene' has been popularised, environmentalists, posthumanist and feminist materialist thinkers have highlighted how the character of human activity on the environment is shaped and supported by a specific ontological worldview, in which every being that is not human is considered as an object, in the sense of inanimate, incapable of individual determination, and at humans’ disposal like a tool. This understanding presupposes an even deeper ontological belief, representing substance, or matter as something formless and lifeless, to which only human activity can shape. Thus, to change the way humans act on their environment, it is necessary to produce a novel ontological understanding of matter and of objects. Yet, the contemporary debate in ecocriticism shows very little agreement on how such novel ontological understanding should look like. In this research group, we will consider and compare the most popular 'ontologies of the Anthropocene' (Arne Naess' Deep Ecology, Timothy Morton's Dark Ecology, Rosi Braidotti's and Jane Bennetts' feminist materialism). By comparing and contrasting these positions and their ontological implications, we will develop a set of desiderata for the right ontology for the Anthropocene. We will divide into three groups, each focusing on one of the main approaches. Research results will be presented in a five-episode podcast we will write and record together. 



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