About Worldly

How should humans respond to phenomena that threaten the complex worlds of which we are a part? 

The Earth and its inhabitants are confronting a range of phenomena- a potential mass extinction event, global climactic change, the emergence of artificial intelligence and the circulation of threats (from pandemics to nuclear terrorism) – that  confound the existing boundaries of global ethics. Although these phenomena are usually presented as threats to human existence, humans do not face them alone. Instead, humans are co-constituents of complex worlds, along with diverse other beings –  other life forms, inorganic beings, matter and geological forces. It is these worlds – not just some of their members – that are threatened, transformed, renewed, destroyed inverted (and more) by the phenomena mentioned above.  What does it mean to respond to threat, harm, transformation and rupture as part of these worlds – that is, in a  worldly way?

This blog explores and experiments with ‘worldly’ ways of engagement with these, and other issues. It probes their ontological, ethical and political dimensions through a range of lenses – e.g. multi species, (new) materialist, indigenous, posthumanist and inhuman  – that challenge the sharp demarcation of beings and reflect the conditions of being in worlds. In so doing, it reframes key concepts of global ethics, international theory and security studies – for instance, harm, threat, security and survival – from the perspective of complex worlds rather than the isolated human subject. This means not only re-framing human agency, but also understanding how beings other than humans shape, distort, disrupt, create or otherwise condition being, and the ethical force they exert.  I engage not only with the phenomena discussed above, but also with emerging responses to them. For instance, I examine links between discourses of extinction and and emerging projects of space colonisation. My goal is to think critically about how humans can better inhabit worlds and cultivate ethical responsiveness in the face of them.

While all of this may sound abstract, my approach is grounded in ‘real-world’ problems and concrete practices. All of my posts draw on my current academic research (please see ‘about the author’). I am an inveterate inter-disciplinarian (and anti-discipliniarian), so expect posts to draw on contemporary philosophy, anthropology, critical IR, geography, sociology, ecology, applied ethics, the arts and literature, animal studies, biology, physics, pop culture/media and more.

I hope that this blog will, in its own modest way, contribute to opening up the conference room/classroom/author’s head to a broader public and open up new, pluralistic avenues of debate on these issues both in and outside of ‘academia’.

I would love to hear from people who are interested in these issues and topics, so please get in touch by leaving a comment.


5 responses to “About Worldly

  • rpauli

    Thank you so much for your blog and all your efforts.

    I found your site after searching for some guidance for facing the future. Most philosophers seem to fail when facing the issue of global warming. Here we face a destabilized future in which, if we do nothing then humans cannot likely survive. – and only a strong, unified contrary action might slightly mitigate harsh scenarios or extend the window of survivability.. The big arguments in climate science seem to be about when, not if. In short, doing nothing is the worst possible action.

    I hope you can stay current on the science. Widely recommended sites are Realclimate.org, and skepticalscience.com – and for a great background in fundamentals is the newly revised “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart,

    But most important is that you stay on guard to resist the tremendous PR initiative built to cast doubt on climate science and minimize the importance and severity of the problem. Some of the best investigation of that comes from Naomi Oreskes at Harvard.

    But the work you are doing is most important, The world faces colossal changes the likes of which civilization has never seen. Thanks for all that you are doing.

    • draudramitchell

      Many thanks for your comments – they are much appreciated, and I’m glad that you’ve found my posts interesting. Thanks also for the useful suggestions for sources – they’re a great help.

  • rpauli

    Getting the latest climate science from formal academic sources is so difficult – they are carefully written for an academic audience and published so many months after the work is done. – I tend to select Internet sources for the latest global warming information.. Science Daily is nice, since they usually present repackaged university press releases http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/earth_climate/. And of course, google/news with a subject of global warming will act as a news agent – but they only select according to key word popular trends – and will include denier stories .

    But a most useful information agent comes from research at the Univ of Illinois. It is an email delivered daily report of internet news stories – but rather than a clipping service, it is an intelligence report. It rates stories according to subject then according to tone and polarization. Quite sophisticated for an automatic news parser:

    “…The Carbon Capture Report (http://www.carboncapturereport.org/) is a free and open service of the University of Illinois devoted to being the preeminent global resource for tracking worldwide perception and developments in Climate Change, Carbon Capture, Carbon Credits, Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy, Green Energy, Biofuels, Geothermal, Hydroelectric, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Solar, Wind, Coal, and Oil. With subscribers in more than 100 countries the Report has become the go-to resource for daily insight into the global media discourse…”

    Of course, any serious information consumer, will check sources – A global warming news story should contain trusted information links. This opinion piece applies to current discussions: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119212/study-atlantic-ocean-role-global-warming-hiatus.

    One could spend many days on this topic, and even then find significant news coming out daily ..Check the http://darksnow.org/ (http://youtu.be/yG2-QFuXEWI) or new cryo research from the Pine Island Glacier – seems like there are constant breakthroughs .

    We are deep into exciting times. New information on events or timetables carry profoundly disturbing ramifications. (whatever happens on one side of the world, can happen here. And whatever happened in the past is possible in the future.)

    I share all this with you because it seems the logical foundations of post humanism must either regard or react to changing realities of global warming destabilization. I wish I could tell you how to process all this information and face the future. I shall check back for further posts – but as an old man (65) I suggest that by virtue of your youth and intelligence, whatever you do or say is correct and deserving of a salute and a wave. . Just hurry up with it, please.

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