Spectres of the Anthropocene

Congdon, Matt (2019) Spectres of the Anthropocene. (MA(R) thesis), Kingston University, .


The aporia of the Anthropocene asks: how can we begin to conceptualise that which remains beyond all human conception, and in addition, how can we as individual agents act in mind of this inconceivable other? The network of events given the blanket designation of the environmental crisis marks a point at which ungrounded, complex systems impinge on all terrestrial lifeforms. Like a ghost, the by-products of past actions return as the alterity of the more-than-human erupts into our very human ethical frameworks. To the subject, as enclosed in the scope of an individual perspective, these disjointed systems of cause and effect manifest as a spectre - the trace of non-presence that, although essentially immeasurable, has a deciding influence over all present reality. Therefore, I approach the aporia of the Anthropocene through Derrida’s hauntology as an ethical system that opens closed ontologies to their constitutive outside, deconstructing a metaphysics of presence through rejecting the primacy of here-now existences, resisting unfolding the other as a being in terms of the self. The value of such an ethics to ecology is evident in that a hauntological understanding remains marginal to the modes of knowledge through which notions of non-relational being, anthropocentrism or exploiter-exploited dynamics are maintained. To think an entangled living-together is not to come to terms with the existence of the other, but to, in thinking it, take responsibility for the other as other, ultimately recognising its formative non-presence in the structures of embodied, present, here-now realities.

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