Consider how idiosyncratic our historical development has been: we need not have come to this relationship with the world as a species. It was not inevitable. It just happened. The myths, explanations and ideologies we’ve used to justify our exploitation of the planet developed on the basis of our idiosyncratic history too, so do not offer stable grounds for a more integrated response.
Jared Diamond has explained this successfully at the cultural/anthropological level in Guns, Germs and Steel. I want to take this approach in the philosophical field and see how it affects how we explain the world around us to ourselves. We have what Andrew Chitty calls ‘human condition imaginaries’, which are ways of explaining how the world is, and what the human condition is. These are deeper, more foundational, if you like, than the imaginaries we use to base our political or social or cultural ideologies on, thought those are important too. These are more like how we imagine humans relate to the world, whether we see that as positive, neutral, entirely dualistic, negative and so on. For instance, if my human condition imaginary is one that sees the relationship between humans and nature as an antagonistic one, I’d be entirely justified in thinking I’ve got to get the bastards, say bacteria, viruses, or even lions (see the recent furore about the American ‘huntress’ who posted pics of herself with a dead lion – a few people might have understood that in terms of an antagonistic perspective and lauded her bravery).
What I’m trying to do is to explore how justified we are in taking a particular human condition imaginary as the foundation for justifying particular sets of attitudes and actions.
If you’ve read any of the rest of this blog, you’ll know I’m a follower (and admirer) of Tim Morton, whose take on this is that we’re enmeshed. I like the way his response to his philosophical understanding is coherent and authentic – for instance, his understanding of how violent the systems are that we are enmeshed in was to become a vegan (that wasn’t the only reason, actually, but it was one of them). He then had a long discussion with his followers about whether or not it was ok to eat honey as a vegan. I say, give the guy a break! In fact, the whole idea of judgment, taking the moral high ground, and so on, is at the heart of the problem we now have with being able to discuss (maybe any ideas but particularly) ideas about the climate crisis, the ecological emergency, and so on.
I’m updating this because I’ve chosen, rather foolishly, to set up a link to this blog via UCC. I need to do a lot more updating and reviewing of what I’ve posted here, and that will come, in time. For now, have a browse, if you like, and do, please, feel free to open discussion on any topic you chose. James Delingpole I’m not: I’m not right about everything but I am happy to discuss where you are coming from, how that informs your view, and what kind of relationship your views might have to mine.