The Ecological Thought

The Ecological Thought

Language: English

Pages: 184

ISBN: 0674064224

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this passionate, lucid, and surprising book, Timothy Morton argues that all forms of life are connected in a vast, entangling mesh. This interconnectedness penetrates all dimensions of life. No being, construct, or object can exist independently from the ecological entanglement, Morton contends, nor does “Nature” exist as an entity separate from the uglier or more synthetic elements of life. Realizing this interconnectedness is what Morton calls the ecological thought.

In three concise chapters, Morton investigates the profound philosophical, political, and aesthetic implications of the fact that all life forms are interconnected. As a work of environmental philosophy and theory, The Ecological Thought explores an emerging awareness of ecological reality in an age of global warming. Using Darwin and contemporary discoveries in life sciences as root texts, Morton describes a mesh of deeply interconnected life forms―intimate, strange, and lacking fixed identity.

A “prequel” to his Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics (Harvard, 2007), The Ecological Thought is an engaged and accessible work that will challenge the thinking of readers in disciplines ranging from critical theory to Romanticism to cultural geography.

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between information (foreground) and noise (background).31 So she hears voices coming from the radiator, yet hears speech as mean­ ingless burbling. Everything seems threateningly meaningful, but she can’t pin down what the meaning is. THINKING BIG 31 The more we become aware of the dangers of ecological instability— extinctions, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, starvation—the more we find ourselves lacking a reference point. When we think big we discover a hole in our psychological

tools? Indeed. Do they display improved skills and learning over time? Abso­ lutely. Can nonhumans feel compassion? G f course. Do they have a sense o f humor? W hy not? How about wonder? Yes. Choice? Also yes. Humans are fairly uniquely good at throwing and sweating: not much of a port­ folio.69 Read Darwin on female insects: “when we see many males pursuing the same female, we can hardly believe that the pairing is left to blind chance— that the female exerts no choice, and is not influenced by

inhibits the possibility of escape. To this end, the rhetoric of sustainability becomes a weapon in the hands of global corporations that would like nothing better than to reproduce themselves in perpetu­ ity. The current social situation becomes a thing of Nature, a tree that you’re preserving— a plastic object you must maintain on pain of death. This social situation is at the same time totally autonomous from you yourself, the actual you—it’s an “emergent” feature like a wave that doesn’t

17 . 22. See Erich Fromm, To Have or to Be? (London: Continuum, 2007), 75. New York Times 23. See Elizabeth Royte, “A Tall, C o o l D rink o f . . . Sewage?” Magazine, August 10, 2008, 3 0 -3 3 . 24. Ryan Parker, “ Residents Upset about Park Proposal,” Lakewood Sentinel, Ju ly 31, 2008, m ileh ig h n ew s.co m /A rticle s-i-20 0 8-0 7-31-20 7468.114125_R esidents_upset_about_park_proposal.html; “ Solar Foes Focus in the Dark,” Edito­ NOTES TO PAGES I I - I 3 139 rial, August 7, 2008,

Intelligence,” in PAI, 4 0 -6 6 . Godel, Escher, Bach, 680. DM, 244, 246. See also John Bellamy Foster, Marx's Ecol­ ogy: Materialism and Nature (N ew York: M onthly Review Press, 2000). 74. Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, trans. E . F. J . 72. Hofstadter, 73. See, for example, Payne, 2 vols. (N e w York: Dover Publications, 1969), 1 .8 8 - 9 1 ,1 .2 4 9 . 75. Francisco Varela, Evan Thom pson, and Eleanor Rosch, The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human

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