Tag Archives: Luce Irigaray

Coexistentialism: the reviews, the description, the ride

Coexistentialism and the Unbearable
Intimacy of Ecological Emergency

Ecocritical Theory and Practice Series, Lexington Books, 2016

Coexistentialism cover

The philosophy of existentialism is undergoing an ecological renewal, as global warming, mass extinction, and other signs of the planetary scale of human actions are making it glaringly apparent that existence is always ecological coexistence. One of the most urgent problems in the current ecological emergency is that humans cannot bear to face the emergency. Its earth-shattering implications are ignored in favor of more solutions, fixes, and sustainability transitions. Solutions cannot solve much when they cannot face what it means to be human amidst unprecedented uncertainty and intimate interconnectedness. Attention to such uncertainty and interconnectedness is what “ecological existentialism” (Deborah Bird Rose) or “coexistentialism” (Timothy Morton) is all about.

This book follows Rose, Morton, and many others (e.g., Jean-Luc Nancy, Peter Sloterdijk, and Luce Irigaray) who are currently taking up the styles of thinking conveyed in existentialism, renewing existentialist affirmations of experience, paradox, uncertainty, and ambiguity, and extending existentialism beyond humans to include attention to the uniqueness and strangeness of all beings—all humans and nonhumans woven into ecological coexistence. Along the way, coexistentialism finds productive alliances and tensions amidst many areas of inquiry, including ecocriticism, ecological humanities, object-oriented ontology, feminism, phenomenology, deconstruction, new materialism, and more. This is a book for anyone who seeks to refute cynicism and loneliness and affirm coexistence.

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“With refreshing style and intellectual forcefulness, Sam Mickey widens the scope of existentialism and shows how it offers important resources to address our urgent ecological situation. Here existentialism becomes coexistentialism, and through it we glimpse a chance to strengthen our existence together on a fragile planet. Make this book part of your coexistence!”
— Clayton Crockett, author of Deleuze Beyond Badiou and Radical Political Theology

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“Is there an ecological style of engaging with things that aren’t me, yet share and even overlap with my being in some sense? The paradoxes and absurdities of existence have only become heightened as we have entered an ecological age, and it’s about time a writer committed to existentialism took up the challenge of working with those paradoxes. This book is up to speed with the ethical implications of our growing understanding of the symbiotic real and with what the author, quoting Björk, calls its necessary sense of ’emergency.’ In trenchant and engaging prose, not to mention deep engagements with philosophy, Sam Mickey lays it out for you.”
— Timothy Morton, author of Dark Ecology and Hyperobjects

 

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Coexistentialism

Coexistentialism: Unbearable Intimacy, Ecological Emergency. The manuscript is finished and off to the publisher. It’s around 110,000 words. The best thing about coexistentialism is the “co-,” indicating an ecological redistribution of Heidegger’s Mitsein (being-with) to include all beings, human, nonhuman, and otherwise. The worst thing is the “ism,” which is no doubt risky; it can degenerate into a lazy substitute for thinking along with other “isms,” but it could (I hope) facilitate solidarity, shared struggle, shared suffering, and shared feasting.  Existence is not the best or the worst, neither optimus nor pessimus. It just is: existence.  Continue reading


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.


The Place of Irigaray’s New Age

The transition to a new age requires a change in our perception and conception of space-time, the inhabiting of places, and of containers, or envelopes of identity. It assumes and entails an evolution or a transformation of forms, of the relations of matter and form and of the interval between: the trilogy of the constitution of place. Each age inscribes a limit to this trinitary configuration: matter, form, interval, or power [puissance], act, intermediary-interval. (pp. 7-8)

Luce Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference, trans. Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill [Cornell UP, 1993].