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.