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The question of the human in the anthropocene debate

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journal contribution
posted on 01.06.2016 by Daniel Chernilo
The Anthropocene debate is among the ambitious scientific programmes of the past 15 or 20 years. Its main argument is that, from a geological point of view, humans are to be seen as a major force of nature so that our current geological epoch is depicted as dominated by human activity. The Anthropocene has slowly become a contemporary metanarrative that seeks to make sense of the ‘earth-system’ as a whole, and one whose vision of the future is dystopian rather than progressive: as the exploitation of the planet’s natural resources has reached tipping point, the very prospects of the continuity of human life are being questioned. My goal in this article is to explore the implicit notions of the human – indeed of the Anthropos – that are being mobilised in the Anthropocene debate. I will proceed in two steps: first, I shall spell out the main the main arguments of the Anthropocene debate with a particular focus on trying to unpack its implicit ideas of the human. Secondly, I use of my approach to philosophical sociology to highlight some of the limitations and contradictions of the ideas of agency, reflexivity and responsibility that underpin the Anthropocene debate.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

European Journal of Social Theory

Volume

20

Issue

1

Citation

CHERNILO, D., 2017. The question of the human in the anthropocene debate. European Journal of Social Theory, 20 (1), pp. 44-60.

Publisher

SAGE (© the author)

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2017

ISSN

1368-4310

eISSN

1461-7137

Language

en

Exports