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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

11 - Anthropocene Confusions


In the previous chapter we returned to the observation, in Chapter 2, that posthumanist researchers in the social sciences have been inclined to throw the baby out with the bathwater: their dismay regarding what human society is doing to the rest of the biosphere has led them to reject some fundamental premises of modern science such as the analytical distinctions between the social and the natural, subjective and objective, and semiotic and material aspects of phenomena. In this chapter and the next, I will exemplify how concerns about our deteriorating biosphere can prompt well-intentioned and critical minds to abandon serious analysis of our circumstances. Although I sympathize with their ambition to reject mainstream modern ontology, my objection is that the ontological transformations that we need to undergo should not be tantamount to dismissing science and rigorous analysis. If my tone in this chapter is agitated, it is because I am as dismayed by the ongoing destruction of our planet as Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing, and Bruno Latour, but strongly feel that academics terrified by the predicament of the Anthropocene have a responsibility that goes beyond publishing the hazy and elusive deliberations that are currently referred to as “posthumanism.” I am agitated not only because we are destroying the planet but also because legions of critical academics are devoting their intellectual energies to everything but contributing to an analytically rigorous grasp of our dilemma. Such a synthesis must necessarily be interdisciplinary. It can only benefit from indignation, but it must not abandon ideals of clarity and analytical rigor.

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