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Saturday, 23 August 2014

The social basis of anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism

I've been giving the final touches to Being Up for Grabs and giving my first classes this term. A course on a Leibnizian reading of Whitehead and another on Descola. This first week, talking about Leibniz, animism and anthropomorphism, we discussed how much of a feudal (and aristocratic) way of thinking is present in Leibniz. It is about areas of jurisdiction and government. In fact, ontological thinking is very often about archés - and governing powers. (Or about their absence.) The monadology of fragments I propose in the book is about reinventing authority on the flight - while things get decomposed and recomposed. We can then ask what would then be the thinking on authority that guided the anthropocentric turn - being it either a Copernican revolution or a Ptolomaic counter-revolution. It emerges a bit like the Operation Oedipus in Deleuze and Guattari: turning the rest of the world as equally under human authority - no more autonomous horses but horses for humans, representing humans, telling us something about other humans in human terms. Anthropocentrism is not about making the rest of the world human-like, it is putting them under human's authority. It is cleaning up the baroque: cleaning up the complex structures of authority to make it revolve around a sole centre, as if paving the way for a global world: a world as a single feud.

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