The Ecological Thought
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In this passionate, lucid, and surprising book, Timothy Morton argues that all forms of life are connected in a vast, entangling mesh. This interconnectedness penetrates all dimensions of life. No being, construct, or object can exist independently from the ecological entanglement, Morton contends, nor does “Nature” exist as an entity separate from the uglier or more synthetic elements of life. Realizing this interconnectedness is what Morton calls the ecological thought.
In three concise chapters, Morton investigates the profound philosophical, political, and aesthetic implications of the fact that all life forms are interconnected. As a work of environmental philosophy and theory, The Ecological Thought explores an emerging awareness of ecological reality in an age of global warming. Using Darwin and contemporary discoveries in life sciences as root texts, Morton describes a mesh of deeply interconnected life forms―intimate, strange, and lacking fixed identity.
A “prequel” to his Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics (Harvard, 2007), The Ecological Thought is an engaged and accessible work that will challenge the thinking of readers in disciplines ranging from critical theory to Romanticism to cultural geography.
fabrics. It has antecedents in mask and mass, suggesting both density and deception.18 By extension, “mesh” can mean “a complex situation or series of events in which a person is entangled; a concatenation of constraining or restricting forces or circumstances; a snare.”19 In other words, it’s perfect. The ecological thought stirs because the mesh appears in our social, psychic, and scientific domains. Since everything is interconnected, there is no definite background and therefore no definite
craggy Steep, till then The bound of the horizon, a huge Cliff, As if with voluntary power instinct, Upreared its head. I struck, and struck again, And, growing still in stature, the huge C liff Towered up between me and the stars, and still, With measured motion, like a living thing, Strode after me. (i.403-412) Isn’t this the essence of ecological awareness? There is something sinister about discovering the mesh. It’s as if there is something else— someone else, even— but the more we look,
rigorously without succumbing to what Dawkins calls “the tyranny of the discontinuous mind.”17 Only dead (extinct) inter mediaries suggest sharp-seeming boundaries between species.18 Yet con tinuity is as much of an illusion as is discontinuity.19 Anti-essentialism is also dogmatic. The effects of the discontinuous mind are not trivial. D e nying that humans are continuous with nonhumans has had disastrous effects. Yet declaring that humans are “animals” risks evening out all be ings the
55, 14 5m 19 Auel, Jean, 89-90 , I52ni55 Bataille, Georges, 51, 135, i38n i9, I4 5n ii2 , i 49nio4 , I 59n i 28 Bateson, Gregory, 93, 100, I52ni65, I53n2 Beck, Ulrich, 24-25, 132, I 4 in i2 Benjamin, Walter, 5 -6 , 10 5-10 6 , i52ni69, I 54n22, I 59n i 27 Bergvall, Caroline, 107 Blake, W illiam, 12, 30, 77, I39nn25,32, i4in26, 149^4 Bourgeois, Louise, 103 Brakhage, Stan, 106 Buddha, 26-27, 73> I r 4 Burke, Edmund, 125 Bush, George W ., 32, 91, I52n i6 i, I 58n i 2 i Byrne, David, 103, I53n i3
155049, 1561168, 157076 Penone, Guiseppe, 103 Petarch, Francesco, 91 Pink Floyd, 59 Prusinkiewicz, Przemyslaw, i48n58 Radigue, Eliane, 103, I54H32 Robertson, David, 10 6 -10 7 Robinson, Klim Stanley, 56 -57, i46n i25 Rosch, Eleanor, 72, 148075, 156063 Roughgarden, Joan, 8 4-8 5, i5onnu8,ii9,i24 Rowe, Keith, 103, 10 4-10 5, I53n i4 Rumsfeld, Donald, 42, 101, 1 4 4 ^ 5 Sagan, Carl, 24, 4 2 -4 3 , 50, 1 4 0 ^ , I43n62 Sartre, Jean-Paul, 80, 1 4 3 ^ 6 , i49nio2 Saussure, Ferdinand de, 118, 1 4 3 ^ 4