Special track at the 20th conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, June 1417, 2017 – Darmstadt, Germany A New Planetary Orientation for Philosophy of Technology in the Anthropocene? Track Chairs: Vincent Blok (Wageningen University), Pieter Lemmens, Jochem Zwier, Hub Zwart (Radboud University of Nijmegen)
Although both ignorance and denialism still persist in some quarters, it can hardly be doubted anymore for anyone with the slightest awareness of the Zeitgeist, that humanity is about to enter a phase in its history which will be characterized by massive changes in the earth's biosphere, i.e., in the global ecological system that has up until now silently and robustly supported its cultural-historical projects ( Greer 2008, Martenson 2011, Crutzen & Schwägerl 2011, Barnosky et al 2012). Humanity's largely destructive influence on its unique planetary life support system has gained such a momentum lately that geologists and Earth System scientists have suggested for some time now that we have entered a new geological epoch, the anthropocene, in which the human has become the most influential geological (f)actor, trumping the natural ones in every respect (Crutzen & Stoermer 2000, Steffen et al. 2011, Latour 2014, Schwägerl 2014, Bonneuil & Fressoz 2016). The prime significance of the anthropocene, which presents us with a biosphere that is fundamentally different from that of its microbial and metazoan stages due to the technosphere produced by human technocultural evolution (Williams et al. 2015), is that it sets a different trajectory for the planet or what is called the Earth system nowadays (Waters et al. 2014, Hamilton 2015, Davies 2016). Whilst the anthropocene attests to the enormous if not uncanny power of a technoscientifically potentialized humanity (a power Dominique Janicaud has called a ‘hyperpower’) to radically disrupt the earthly ecosystem upon which it fundamentally depends for its very survival, it simultaneously, and even more crucially, brings to light the ultimate impotence of that power (Janicaud 1994). However that may be, what is clear, as the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler points out, is that the anthropocene reveals the toxic and entropic character of the process of capitalist industrialization and that the big challenge it imposes on us is how to exit from it and invent a negentropic, curative and attentive technological modus vivendi (Stiegler 2014, 2016), if possible (Blok 2015). And since we are massively unprepared for this unprecedented challenge, we might do well to start ‘thinking the unthinkable’, as the American philosopher of technology Langdon Winner has stated using a famous phrase by cold war nuclear conflict theorist/futurist Herman Kahn (Winner 2013). In this track, we aim to explore the question how philosophy of technology should respond to this challenge, i.e., to this new and unprecedented ‘human condition’ that is bound to seriously disrupt the agendas of philosophical and social inquiry in the decades to come and that we would like to characterize as the anthropocenic condition. In particular,
we aim to explore what it would mean for philosophy of technology to engage with the earth system and its principles of composition, to consider different technical modalities of fostering and maintaining them, and to adopt an explicitly planetary orientation (Lemmens & Hui 2016, Lemmens 2017). Possible questions and themes to be explored include: • What exactly does the anthropocene – sometimes also referred to as the technocene – as a new and unprecedented planetary condition mean for the philosophy of technology? What are its implications for this discipline? Should it be the cause for a renewed reflection on its aims, goals, focus, methodologies, paradigms, presuppositions, organizational structure, educational guidelines, ‘engagement’, etc.? • What would a planetary orientation, assuming humanity as a ‘geological agency’ (Chakrabarty 2009), imply for philosophy of technology? What should ‘taking care of the earth’ (Steffen et al. 2011) or a ‘reconnection with the biosphere’ (Folke 2011) mean technologically? How should we attune our technologies, for instance the global digital network technologies, the NBIC technologies or the technosphere and noorspehere more generally, to this new situation? What would it mean technologically to heed the ‘planetary boundaries’ crucial for the ‘operating space of humanity’ (Rockström 2015). • What kind of new technologies and social institutions should be invented to deal with the impending energy crisis and climate catastrophes and what kind of changes in our technological thinking are needed for this new age of the anthropocene? • What kinds of technopolitics and ecopolitics are needed and what can we already see emerging on the horizon? How should we include nascent technopolitical movements such as open source, peer-to-peer and commons into an ecological perspective on technoevolution? • What should we think of proposed solutions like geo-engineering, ecotechnics and atmo-design, and what of new technological paradigms like homeotechnology, biomimicry (Blok & Gremmen 2015) and the biobased economy (Zwier et al 2015)? Literature Barnosky, A. D. et al. (2012). ‘Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere’, Nature, No. 486, 07 June 2012: 52–58 Benyus, J. (2002). Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. New York: Harper Collins. Blok, V. (2015). ‘The human glanze, the experience of environmental distress and the ‘Affordance’ of nature: Toward a phenomenology of the ecological crisis’, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 28(5): 925-938 (DOI 10.1007/s10806-015-9565-8) Blok, V., Gremmen, B. (2016). ‘Ecological Innovation: Biomimicry as a New Way of Thinking and Acting Ecologically, . Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 29(2): 203-217. Blok, V. (2014). ‘Reconnecting with Nature in the Age of Technology. The Heidegger and Radical Environmentalism Debate Revisited’, Environmental Philosophy 11(2), 307-332 (DOI: 10.5840/envirophil20149913)
Bonneuill, C. & Fressoz, J-.B. (2016). The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us. London: Verso. Crutzen, P. J., & Stoermer, E.F. (2000). ‘The 'Anthropocene’. Global Change Newsletter 41: pp. 17–18. Crutzen, P.J. & Schwägerl, C (2011). ‘Living in the Anthropocene: Toward a New Global Ethos’. Environment360: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/living_in_the_anthropocene_toward_a_new_global_ethos/2363/ Folke, C. et al. (2011). ‘Reconnecting with the biosphere’. Ambio 40(7). Hamilton, C. (2015). The Anthropocene and the Global Environmental Crisis: Rethinking modernity in a new epoch. London: Routledge. Janicaud, D. (1994). Powers of the Rational. Science, Technology and the Future of Thought (Studies in Continental Thought. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Latour, B. (2013). ‘The Anthropocene and the destruction of the image of the Globe’. Gifford lecture no. 4. http://www.ed.ac.uk/about/video/lecture-series/gifford-lectures Latour, B. (2014). ‘Agency at the time of the Anthropocene’. New Literary History. Vol. 45, pp. 1-18, 2014 Lemmens, P. & Hui, Y. (2016). ‘Apocalypse, Now! Peter Sloterdijk and Bernard Stiegler on the Anthropocene’, Boundary 2, Dec. 2016. Lemmens, P. & Hui, Y. (2017). ‘Anthropos-Anthropotechnics-Anthropocene. On Peter Sloterdijk and Bernard Stiegler’s philosophies of technology’. Krisis, Vol 1. 2017 (forthcoming) Lemmens, P. (2017) ‘Philosophy of Technology in the Age of the Anthropocene. Theorizing and Imagining the Emerging Geo-Technological Condition’. Techne Vol. 21, Nr. 2 (forthcoming) Martenson, C. (2011). The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future of Our Economy, Energy, and Environment. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Schwägerl, C. (2014). Anthropocene: A New Planet Shaped by Humans. Santa Fe: Synergetic Press. Steffen, W, Grinevald, J, Crutzen, P. & McNeil, J. (2011). ‘The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives’. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society A, Vol 369, nr. 193. Stiegler, B. (2014). ‘The Anthropocene and Neganthropology’, Keynote lecture presented at the Nootechnics conference on general organology, Canterbury, November 2014 Stiegler, B. (2016). The Automatic Society Vol. 1. The Future of Work. Cambridge-Malden: Polity Waters, C.N, Zalasiewicz, J.A, Williams, M, Ellis, M.A. & Snelling, A.M. (2014). A Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene. London: GSL Publications. Williams, W, Zalasiewicz, J, Haff, P.K., Schwägerl, C, Barnofsky, A.D. & Ellis, E.C. (2015). ‘The Anthropocene Biosphere’. The Anthropocene Review Vol. 2(3). Winner, L. (2013). ‘A future for Philosophy of Technology – Yes, But on Which Planet?’, Keynote Lecture at SPT Biannual meeting, Lisbon, Portugal
Zwier, J, Blok, V. & Lemmens, P. (2016). ‘Phenomenology and the Empirical Turn:A phenomenological analysis of postphenomenology’, Philosophy of Technology, 25 May 2016. DOI 10.1007/s13347-0160221-7 Zwier, J, Blok, V, Lemmens, P. & Geerts, R.J. (2015), ‘The Ideal of a Zero-Waste Humanity: Philosophical Reflections on the Demand for a Bio-Based Economy’, J Agric Environ Ethics, 6 March 2015.
TO CONTRIBUTE... 350-word abstracts for individual papers should be submitted by Dec 5 at https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=spt2017. When submitting, please tick the option "Special Track: Anthropocene (V. Blok, P. Lemmens, J. Zwier, H. Zwart)". Abstracts should include a cover page with author details (name, affiliation), contact info, talk title, and reference to the conference track: Anthropocene (V. Blok, P. Lemmens, J. Zwier, H. Zwart). Timetable •
December 5th 2016: Deadline for the submission of abstracts
March 1, 2017: Expected notification of acceptance
June 14-17, 2017: Conference dates
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Special track at the 20th conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, June 1417, 2017 – Darmstadt, Germany A New Planeta...
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