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Timothy Morton : “The Philosopher Prophet of the Anthropocene”

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Considered by many to be among the top philosophers in the world, especially among those tackling issues related to human effects on our environment, Timothy Morton herein provides an important, spirited, and sometimes frenetic analysis of the foundational assumptions of marxism and other -isms with regard to nature and culture.” – Jeff Vandermeer

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Timothy Morton brings to bear his deep knowledge of a wide array of subjects to propose a new way of looking at our situation, which might allow us to take action toward the future health of the biosphere. Crucially, the relations between religion and science, nature and culture, are examined in the fusion of a single vision. The result is a great work of cognitive mapping, both exciting and useful”. – Kim Stanley Robinson

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When you first hear some of philosopher Timothy Morton’s ideas, they may sound bizarre. He argues that everything in the universe – from algae and rocks to knives and forks – has a kind of consciousness. That we need to scrap the concept of “nature” as being distinct to civilisation. And, he says, we’re ruled by a kind of primitive artificial intelligence: industrial capitalism.” – The Guardian

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ALL LIFE FORMS ARE THE MESH, AND SO ARE ALL THE DEAD ONES, AS ARE THEIR HABITATS, WHICH ARE ALSO MADE UP OF LIVING AND NONLIVING BEINGS. WE KNOW EVEN MORE NOW ABOUT HOW LIFE FORMS HAVE SHAPED EARTH (THINK OF OIL, OF OXYGEN—THE FIRST CLIMATE CHANGE CATACLYSM). WE DRIVE AROUND USING CRUSHED DINOSAUR PARTS. IRON IS MOSTLY A BY-PRODUCT OF BACTERIAL METABOLISM. SO IS OXYGEN. MOUNTAINS CAN BE MADE OF SHELLS AND FOSSILIZED BACTERIA. DEATH AND THE MESH GO TOGETHER IN ANOTHER SENSE, TOO, BECAUSE NATURAL SELECTION IMPLIES EXTINCTION.

THE MESH HAS NO CENTRAL POSITION THAT PRIVILEGES ANY ONE FORM OF BEING OVER OTHERS, AND THEREBY ERASES DEFINITIVE INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR BOUNDARIES OF BEINGS. EMPHASIZING THE INTERDEPENDENCE OF BEINGS, THE ECOLOGICAL THOUGHT “PERMITS NO DISTANCE,” SUCH THAT ALL BEINGS ARE SAID TO RELATE TO EACH OTHER IN A TOTALIZING OPEN SYSTEM, NEGATIVELY AND DIFFERENTIALLY, RENDERING AMBIGUOUS THOSE ENTITIES WITH WHICH WE PRESUME FAMILIARITY.”

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Closely related to dark ecology is Morton’s concept of the ‘MESH‘. Defining the ecological thought as “the thinking of interconnectedness,” Morton thus uses ‘mesh’ to refer to the interconnectedness of all living and non-living things, consisting of “infinite connections and infinitesimal differences.

Art is also an important theme in “The Ecological Thought”, a “prequel” to “Ecology Without Nature”, in which Morton proposes the concept of ‘DARK ECOLOGY‘ as a means of expressing the “irony, ugliness, and horror” of ecology.

From the vantage point of “DARK ECOLOGY“, there exists no neutral theoretical ground on which to articulate ecological claims. Instead, all beings are always already implicated within the ecological, necessitating an acknowledgement of coexistential difference for coping with ecological catastrophe that, according to Morton, “has already occurred.”

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Timothy Bloxam Morton (born 19 June 1968, London, UK; Ph.D., Magdalen College, Oxford, 1993) is a professor and Chair in English at William Marsh Rice University (Houston, Texas, US). A member of the object-oriented philosophy movement, Morton’s work explores the intersection of object-oriented thought and ecological studies.

Since 2009, Morton has engaged in a sustained project of ecological critique, primarily enunciated in two works, “Ecology Without Nature” (2007) and “The Ecological Thought” (2010), through which he problematizes environmental theory from the standpoint of ecological entanglement.

In “Ecology Without Nature”, Morton proposes that an ecological criticism must be divested of the bifurcation of nature and civilization, or the idea that nature exists as something that sustains civilization, but exists outside of society’s walls.

Against traditional causal philosophies, Morton argues that causality is an aesthetic dimension of relations between objects, wherein sensory experience does not indicate direct access to reality, but rather an uncanny interruption of the false ontic equilibrium of an interobjective system.

Causation, in this view, is held to be illusion-like or “magical,” forming the core of what Morton terms “realist magic.”

The term ‘hyperobjects’ (denoting n-dimensional non-local entities) has also been used in computer science since 1967.

In “The Ecological Thought”, Morton employed the term hyperobjects to describe objects that are so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend spatiotemporal specificity, such as global warming, styrofoam, and radioactive plutonium

Morton uses the term to explain objects so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend localization, such as climate change.

According to Morton, hyperobjects not only become visible during an age of ecological crisis, but alert humans to the ecological dilemmas defining the age in which they live. Additionally, the existential capacity of hyperobjects to outlast a turn toward less materialistic cultural values, coupled with the threat many such objects pose toward organic matter (what Morton calls a “demonic inversion of the sacred substances of religion”), gives them a potential spiritual quality, in which their treatment by future societies may become indistinguishable from reverential care.

His recent book “Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People” explores the separation between humans and non-humans and from an object-oriented ontological perspective, arguing that humans need to radically rethink the way in which we conceive of, and relate to, non-human animals and nature as a whole, going on to explore the political implications of such a change.

2018. “Being Ecological

2017.“Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People” ; “Timothy Morton’s book, “Humankind”, is intended as an intervention of epochal scale: no less than a recoding of the way we think and act about our species, our planet, and the crisis that has emerged between them. That Humankind asks us to question and reconfigure just about every word in that last sentence — especially “species” and “between” — speaks to the magnitude of the problem (and the possibilities for thought) that our ecological moment presents.”

2016. “Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence

2013. “Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World

2013. “Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality

2010. “The Ecological Thought

2007. “Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics

https://www.domusweb.it/en/design/2019/03/02/nature-is-a-racist-concept.html
https://criticalinquiry.uchicago.edu/ursula_k._heise_reviews_timothy_morton
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/23/humankind-solidarity-with-nonhuman-people-by-timothy-morton-review
https://www.domusweb.it/en/design/2019/03/02/nature-is-a-racist-concept.html
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