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(2019) Political geology, Dordrecht, Springer.

Attention in the anthropocene

on the spiritual exercises of any future science

Simone Kotva

pp. 239-261

Without a doubt, the most remarkable consequence of the recent proposal to name our current geological epoch the Anthropocene is the philosophical inquiry it has yielded. For what is at stake in the "epoch of the human" is not, as would first appear, the task of exposing the scandal of human exploitation of planetary resources over the past century (though it is this too) but to expose, as scandalous, the very nature of human agency as such (Latour in New Literary Hist. 45: 71–81, 2014). The Anthropocene tells a story about causality, of how human beings have caused the earth's atmospheric composition to change. That human beings have been instrumental in causing climate change few would now deny, yet attempts to account for how this causality is distributed repeatedly fail. As critics are beginning to realise, to claim that the guilt is collective, applying to humanity as a species, is absurd, for in developing nations many are without substantial carbon footprints, and even in the developed world the day-to-day activities of the average citizen will have a vanishingly small effect on the planet as such (Malm and Hornborg in The Anthropocene Rev. 20: 4, 2014). Yet it would be absurd, equally, to claim that the responsibility rests only with the few, for the situation is now more complex than that, and perhaps has always been so (Morton in Being Ecological. Penguin, London, pp. 3–35, 2018). Whether or not an individual is materially responsible for the increase of carbon-emissions they are, today, implicated in a planetary situation and contribute to its acceleration simply by being alive and so put a strain on the planet's resources. This is bad news, since it means that everyone is, after all, part of the problem. But it is also good news, since by the same reasoning everyone is part of the solution. It is this general solution—its structure and logic—that I want to think through in what follows.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-98189-5_9

Full citation:

Kotva, S. (2019)., Attention in the anthropocene: on the spiritual exercises of any future science, in A. Bobbette & A. Donovan (eds.), Political geology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 239-261.

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