Inventing Nature: Re-writing Time and Agency in a More-than-Human World

Australian Humanities Review 47:99-116 (2009)

Michelle Bastian
University of Edinburgh
This paper is a response to Val Plumwoods call for writers to engage in ‘the struggle to think differently’. Specifically, she calls writers to engage in the task of opening up an experience of nature as powerful and as possessing agency. I argue that a critical component of opening up who or what can be understood as possessing agency involves challenging the conception of time as linear, externalised and absolute, particularly in as much as it has guided Western conceptions of process, change and invention. I explore this through anthropologist Carol Greenhouse's claim that social conceptions of time can be read as theories of agency. Thus, in seeking to respond to Plumwood’s call to think differently, the question becomes: what kind of writing would enable a fundamental re-thinking of agency without, however, ignoring the way Western notions of agency have been shaped by linear accounts of time? I look to Jacques Derrida's work as one example. I first locate the possibility of re-writing time and agency in the experiential aspects of his writing, which I argue interrupt both the reader’s sense of agency and linear models of reading. But further, I connect Derrida’s work directly with Plumwood’s by examining how his deconstruction of the Western concept of invention may enable another account of creative change that could reshape what counts as ‘agency’ within the Anthropocene.
Keywords Environmental Philosophy  ecofeminism  Val Plumwood  Time  Agency
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Animal That Therefore I Am.Jacques Derrida & David Wills - 2002 - Critical Inquiry 28 (2):369-418.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Finding Time for Philosophy.Michelle Bastian - 2013 - In K. Hutchison & Fiona Jenkins (eds.), Women in Philosophy: What needs to Change? Oxford University Press. pp. 215.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Animals, Agency and Resistance.Bob Carter & Nickie Charles - 2013 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43 (3):322-340.
The Representation of Time in Agency.Holly Andersen - 2013 - In Adrian Bardon & Heather Dyke (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Philosophy of Time. Wiley-Blackwell.
Agency and the A-Series.Roman Altshuler - 2009 - Southwest Philosophy Review 25 (1):153-161.
Age and Agency.Veli Mitova - 2012 - Philosophical Papers 41 (3):335-369.
The Metaphysical Presuppositions of Moral Responsibility.Helen Steward - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (2):241-271.
The Unity and Disunity of Agency.Jeanette Kennett & Steve Matthews - 2003 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 10 (4):308-312.
Multiple Aspects of Agency.Shaun Gallagher - 2010 - New Ideas in Psychology.
Epistemic Agency: Some Doubts.Kieran Setiya - 2013 - Philosophical Issues 23 (1):179-198.
Agency and Human Rights.S. Matthew Liao - 2010 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 27 (1):15-25.


Added to PP index

Total views
380 ( #14,999 of 2,280,329 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
64 ( #12,047 of 2,280,329 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature