Speciesism and Philosophical Botany

I’m participating in a couple of events in March.  First, I’m a panelist in a session on “Religion and Culture: How Self-Perceptions and Scientific Literacy Influence Political Views,” which is part of an ongoing seminar, Speciesism and the Future of Humanity: Biology, Culture, Sociopolitics, taking place at the University of California, Berkeley.  The specific time isn’t listed on their site yet, but my session is March 14, 5-7pm in Boalt Hall room 132 South Addition. 

I’ll be responding to a couple presentations on the roles of religion as it relates to conservation, sustainability, and the sociology/politics that surround our solutions to major environmental problems, particularly in light of questions regarding how or if Western religion promotes the belief that humans are different, or potentially better than, other organisms in the planet.

A couple weeks later, I’m presenting a paper on philosophical botany at the American Philosophical Association’s pacific division annual meeting, which will be held in the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco’s Union Square.  I’ll be speaking on Friday the 29th in the evening, but the whole event runs from March 27-31. 

I’ll be speaking about a comparative philosophical botany, touching on indigenous, Hindu, and Buddhist perspectives on plants along with some occidental philosophy (especially Aristotle and Theophrastus).  I’m following Matthew Hall pretty closely, whose work on philosophical botany takes its cue from the ecofeminist philosophy of Val Plumwood and from a multicultural comparative orientation.  I like Michael Marder’s work on plant-thinking, but I probably won’t engage much of it in this talk.  His focus is on hermeneutic phenomenology, deconstruction, and weak thought, which have plenty of internal critiques of the anthropocentrism and zoocentrism of occidental philosophy, but he doesn’t touch on external critiques from non-Western traditions (aside from acknowledging the importance of those critiques).

Growth suspended in ecstasy, the ideal flowering for you. 
The plant will have nourished the mind which contemplates the blooming of its flower. […]
Untouchable because it does not touch itself in its centre.  Only its edges will lightly touch — there where already it is no longer held in that suspended becoming — the interruption of its unfurling.
—Luce Irigaray, Elemental Passions.

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