“Nature is Us:” the Anthropocene and species-being
Short Title: Nature is Us
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: 2012/01//
Sources ID: 80751
Collection: Anthropocene and the Environmental Future
Visibility: Public (group default)
The Anthropocene and species-being: I want to immediately confess that there is something awkward about holding these two terms together. It would seem they share little conceptual ground. The former, relatively newly minted in earth system science, designates the advent of a geological era of the human species’ own making. The latter, from the annals of Marxist theory, describes humanity’s capacity to take its own “life-activity” as its object, and thus, the historical possibilities of its own self-development. Nevertheless, in this paper I follow a hunch that this is a productive coupling. For it seems to me that it offers a new line for thinking through the relations between this novel geological era, in which the human species is now a force altering the trajectory of planetary life, and the historically specific social formation, capitalism, that has ushered in this epoch, and with it, this augmented species capacity. As a means to develop this contention I wish to explore the tensions and implications of the two contrasting formulations of the human that respectively inform these two notions: that is, as a biological species with geological agency; and as a species-being, with the capacity to consciously direct its own species’ life activity.