The Ecological Thought
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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.
commodities and made to stand for THINKING BIG commodity-ness as such, as if “there existed the Animal, the individual incarnation of the entire animal kingdom” ?71 Could treating people like “animals” result from this alienating abstraction? Saying “ Humans are animals” could get you in trouble. So could say ing “Humans are not animals,” for different reasons. The word “animal” shows how humans develop intolerances to strangeness and to the stranger. According to prevailing ideologies, we
countries that torture, resembles the word for melting down the bones and marrow of livestock for glue and pet food.162 I f environmentalism means biopower— if “reducing” humans to animals means reducing animals to vegetables— the ecological thought wants nothing to do with it. The boy speaks something like a poem at the haunting close of “The Idiot Boy”: “The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo, / And the sun did shine so cold” (lines 460-461). Compare Stephen Foster’s “ Oh! Susanna”: “ It rained
its parts. There is a both-and logic op erating here. We can have tiny components and a big self: reductionism and holism at the same time. The ecological thought must hesitate here. What is a person? I agree with Varela that if we are to find out, we shall require a new kind of sci ence that takes contemplative practices such as meditation seriously. For two and a half thousand years, Buddhism has shown that consciousness doesn’t depend upon an integrated, solid, “truly existing” self. Since
See, for example, Erich Fromm, To Have or to Be? (London: Continuum, 2007)5140. NOTES 142 36. “ H o w H e Did It,” TO PAGES 3 2 - 3 6 Newsweek, Novem ber 17, 2008, 4 1, 4 4 , newsweek.com/ id/i67582/page/2. 37. Jacques Lacan, address given at M I T , quoted in Sherry Turkle, Psychoana lytic Politics: Freud's French Revolution (N e w York: Basic Books, 1978), 238. As Darwin observes, animals such as dogs and cats have developed behaviors for The Expression of the Emotions in Man and
discussion o f the Musselman, see Slavoj Zizek, “ Neighbors and Other Monsters: A Plea for Ethical Violence,” in Slavoj Zizek, Eric Lv Santner, and Kenneth Reinhard, The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology (Chicago: The Culture University o f Chicago Press, 2006), 13 4 -19 0 ; and David Simpson, 9/11: of Commemoration (Chicago: University o f Chicago Press, 2006), 16 2 -16 5. 161. George W . Bush, Presidential Debate, October 3, 2000, debates.org/ pages/trans2oooa.html. 162. OED,