Collapse Volume VI, 195–223

Chapter

Thinking Ecology

The Mesh, the Strange Stranger and the Beautiful Soul

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EXCERPT

I shall investigate what ecological interdependence means, philosophically and theoretically. We may then specify the beings with whom we are interdependent. As we proceed, we shall descend from seeming logical abstraction, through deconstruction, into an unbearable intimacy with others. Ecological thinking—what I call the ecological thought—is precisely this ‘humiliating’ descent, towards what is rather abstractly called ‘the Earth’. Ecology is the latest in a series of great humiliations of the human, humiliations that might even constitute the human as such (in its humility, at least, if any). From Copernicus through Marx, Darwin and Freud, we learn we are decentred beings, inhabiting a Universe of processes that happen whether we are aware of them or not, whether we name those processes ‘astrophysics’, ‘economic relations’, ‘the unconscious’ or ‘evolution’. The correct but surprising conclusion to draw from ecological humiliation, however, is not some form of nominalism or nihilism, but a politicised intimacy with other beings…