Anti-dualism in the discourse on the Anthropocene

  • Bernhard Sylla UM, CEPS
Keywords: Anthropocene, dualism, anti-dualism, philosophy of technology

Abstract

18 years after its introduction into scientific vocabulary, a vast discourse on the Anthropocene has settled in very heterogeneous scientific areas, from Biology and Geology to the Arts and Humanities, including Philosophy itself. Despite its multidisciplinarity, there seems to be a common presupposition in this discourse that often becomes a demand: to abandon a false dualism allegedly responsible for the lack of answers to the challenges that the new anthropocenic age poses to us. Anti-dualism seems to be a common denominator, widely shared by the most diverse authors of the Anthropocene discourse, but what is meant by ‘dualism’ seems extremely heterogeneous to me, embracing ontological, epistemological, and political dimensions, and sometimes mixing them. Whatever the combated dualism – nature and culture, social system and terrestrial system, Man and Earth, biosphere and noosphere, subject and object, observer and observed, natural sciences and human sciences, etc. – the golden key to unravelling and developing a different way of thinking and being capable of facing the environmental challenges of the present would be by overcoming these dualisms, that is, in a perspective that can account for the intersection and overlap of the hitherto opposed elements and which presupposes, in the end, their assimilation. How both imbrication and assimilation can or should be thought of, however, can vary greatly from one author to another. Based on these assumptions, I will focus on two criticisms of anti-dualism put forward by Andrew Feenberg and Gernot Böhme. Both critics chose the theories of Haraway and Latour – authors who are today among the most cited philosophers of the Anthropocene – as distinct exponents of anti-dualism. I will argue that criticism of anti-dualism is pertinent and necessary, but that the alternatives proposed by Feenberg and Böhme are not convincing.

Published
2018-05-21
Section
SPECIAL TOPIC: PHILOSOPHICAL CHALLENGES OF THE ANTHROPOCENE