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Vital Reenchantments: Biophilia, Gaia, Cosmos, and the Affectively Ecological

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ISBN: 9781950192076 9781950192083 Year: Pages: 276 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0240.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2019-03-26 11:21:03
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Not all charms fly at the touch of cold philosophy. Vital Reenchantments examines so-called cold philosophy, or science, that does precisely the opposite — rather than mercilessly emptying out and unweaving, it operates as a philosophy that animates. More specifically, Greyson closely examines how a specific group of “poet-in-scientists” of the late 1970s and 1980s directed attention to the “wondrous” unfolding of life, at a time when the counter-culture in particular had made the institution of science synonymous with technologies of alienation and destruction. In this vein, Vital Reenchantments takes up E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia (1984), James Lovelock’s Gaia (1979), and Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980), in order to show how each work fleshes out scientific concepts with a unique attention to “affective wonder,” understood as the experience of and attunement to novel effects. What is so unique about these works is that they reenchant the scientific world without pandering to what Richard Dawkins will later term “cosmic sentimentality.” Carl Sagan may have said “We are made of starstuff,” but he would never insist, as Joni Mitchell did in 1969, that “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Instead, they insist on a third way that does not rely on the idea of an ecological Eden — a vigorously vital materialism in which the affective trumps the sentimental. Further, the historical emergence of these works, all published within 5 years of each other, was no accident: each book responded to an ever deepening sense of environmental crisis, certainly, but along with it they responded to, perhaps more than marginally related, narratives of the large-scale disenchantment brought on by modernity or science, and more often than not a mixture of the two. Greyson argues that the persistence of these works and their affectively-charged scientific concepts in contemporary popular culture and ecological thought is no accident. As such, these works deserve recognition as far more than “popular science” and can be seen as essential contributions to more contemporary vital materialist thought and ecological theory. No doubt this talk of enchantment and wonder, so tied to immediate experience, can seem trivial in the face of any number of environmental crises (global warming first among these) that do not just appear ominously on the horizon, but loom as never before. The first task of this book thus to pose the same question that Jane Bennett does at the end of her own work on enchantment: “How can someone write a book about enchantment in such a world?” Does this approach really provide, as Latour phrases it, “a way to bridge the distance between the scale of the phenomena we hear about and the tiny Umwelt inside which we witness, as if it were a fish inside its bowl, an ocean of catastrophes that are supposed to unfold”? Ultimately, Vital Reenchantments argues that affective ecologies, properly attended to, point toward an open present, one that broadens the horizons of the “fish bowl” and allows us to imagine engendering futures that are neither naively hopeful nor hopelessly apocalyptic.

Haare hören – Strukturen wissen – Räume agieren

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Book Series: Einzelveröffentlichungen Kulturwissenschaften ISBN: 9783839432723 9783837632729 Year: Pages: 216 DOI: 10.14361/9783839432723 Language: German
Publisher: transcript Verlag Grant: Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung
Subject: Arts in general
Added to DOAB on : 2017-03-03 11:01:26
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What happens when the functional principle of the human ear is translated into the field of nanotechnology, a map depicting epistemological architecture is sketched as a lecture performance, or when researchers from over 25 disciplines critically engage with structures and models? Which new discoveries are brought about through the collaboration between biomorphology and art history, media studies and medicine? And what can the Gestaltung disciplines of design and architecture contribute to this foundational research? This volume gathers together essays from the Cluster of Excellence Image Knowledge Gestaltung, and, through its focus on the these three eponymous keywords, sheds light on the productivity of these diverse research approaches: from methodological transfers between the individual participating disciplines through to the interdisciplinary drafting of new structures of knowledge and research.

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