• Of Gods and Gaia

    Peter Critchley (see profile)
    Urban ecology (Sociology), Biopolitics, Cognitive science--Philosophy, Environmentalism
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    Green politics, Urban ecology, Environmental humanities, Philosophy of cognitive science
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    This book examines the case for planetary engineering and management that seeks to redefine and reorganise environmentalism around nuclear power, biotechnology, GM food and geoengineering. This amounts to moral and political disarmament of the environmental movement and can be resisted. This book examines what these proposals amount to and what kind of thinking – and politics – lies behind them. Stewart Brand opens his book Whole Earth Discipline with the quote: ‘We are as gods and HAVE to get good at it.’ Mark Lynas follows suit and entitles his book The God Species. These books focus almost exclusively on technology and offer technological solutions to the environmental crisis. There is nothing on morality, an explicit repudiation of ‘ideology’, little on social practices, and a disdain of politics which always seems to slant against socialism and the left. The environmental crisis ought to have concentrated minds and caused us to take the notion of natural limits and planetary boundaries more seriously. However, far from coming to terms with the Faustian bargains which lie at the heart of modernity, the inversion of means and ends, the enlargement of means at the expense of ends, the planetary engineers come to invest our technologies with a divine power. I shall take these books on with respect to specific points, examining the cases made for nuclear energy, biotechnology, GE food and geoengineering. I shall set the books by Lovelock, Brand and Lynas within a broader philosophical discussion of human power and progress. Above all, I call for the integration of our moral and technical capacities so as to achieve a balanced development of the human ontology. This also requires a deeper understanding of the human essence and how it flourishes only when we find our true place within nature.
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    5 years ago
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