In his formulation, "plant-thinking" is the non-cognitive, non-ideational, and non-imagistic mode of thinking proper to plants, as much as the process of bringing human thought itself back to its roots and rendering it plantlike.
The present essay formulates a phytocentric alternative to the biocentric and zoocentric critiques of anthropocentrism. Treating phuton—the Greek for “plant,” also meaning “growing being”—as a concrete entry point into the world of phusis , I situate the intersecting trajectories and communities of growth at the center of environmental theory and praxis. I explore the potential of phytocentrism for the “greening” of human consciousness brought back to its vegetal roots, as well as for tackling issues related, among others, to the use (...) of biotechnologies and dietary ethics. (shrink)
Despite their conceptual allergy to vegetal life, philosophers have used germination, growth, blossoming, fruition, reproduction, and decay as illustrations of abstract concepts; mentioned plants in passing as the natural backdrops for dialogues, letters, and other compositions; spun elaborate allegories out of flowers, trees, and even grass; and recommended appropriate medicinal, dietary, and aesthetic approaches to select species of plants. In this book, Michael Marder illuminates the vegetal centerpieces and hidden kernels that have powered theoretical discourse for centuries. Choosing twelve botanical (...) specimens that correspond to twelve significant philosophers, he recasts the development of philosophy through the evolution of human and plant relations. A philosophical history for the postmetaphysical age, The Philosopher's Plant reclaims the organic heritage of human thought. With the help of vegetal images, examples, and metaphors, the book clears a path through philosophy's tangled roots and dense undergrowth, opening up the discipline to all readers. (shrink)
By denying to vegetal life the core values of autonomy, individualization, self-identity, originality, and essentiality, traditional philosophy not only marginalizes plants but, inadvertently, confers on them a crucial role in the current transvaluation of metaphysical value systems. From the position of absolute exteriority and heteronomy, vegetation accomplishes a living reversal of metaphysical values and points toward the collapse of hierarchical dualisms.
The goal of “Phenomenology of Distraction“ is to explore the imbrication of attention and distraction within existential spatiality and temporality. First, I juxtapose the Heideggerian dispersion of concern (which includes, among other things, the attentive comportment) in everyday life, conceived as a way to get distracted from one's impending mortality, to Fernando Pessoa's embracing of the inauthentic, superficial, and restless existence, where attention necessarily reverts into distraction. Second, I consider the philosophical confessions of St. Augustine and Jean-Jacques Rousseau as evidence (...) for the proto-phenomenological temporal synthesis that hinges upon distraction and dispersion, despite the confessors' best efforts to pay attention to their inner life and to concentrate it in the eternal present. The paper concludes with an assessment of the ethical effects of mutual distraction, outlining a model of “distracted intersubjectivity.. (shrink)
Grafting: do we ever do anything other than that? And are we ever free from vegetal influences when we engage in its operations? For the philosopher Michael Marder, our reflections on vegetal life have a fundamental importance in how we can reflect on our own conceptions of ethics, politics, and philosophy in general. Taking as his starting point the simple vegetal conception of grafting, Marder guides the reader through his concise and numerous reflections on what could be described as a (...) vegetal philosophy. Grafts are transplants either of a shoot inserted into the trunk of another tree or, surgically, of skin (among other living tissues). They are delicate operations intended to preserve, improve, and modify both the grafted materials and the body that receives them. To graft is to create unlikely encounters, hybrid mixes, and novel surfaces. Moving across disciplinary lines, Grafts combines the lessons of plant science with the history of philosophy, semiotics, literary compositions, and political theory. Co-authoring some of the texts with other philosophers, plant scientists and artists, Marder allows their insights to be grafted onto his own, and vice versa. Weighing in on contemporary debates such as the ethics of biotechnology, dietary practices or political organization, Marder inserts an unmistakable vegetal perspective into topics of discussion where it normally wouldnt be found. Transferring the living tissue of his own texts into another context, he helps them live better, more fully, than otherwise. (shrink)
This brief text offers a critique of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's concept of nomadism. It is shown that ‘nomadism’ functions as a compilation of unresolved contradictions, such as those of movement and rest, anarchy and order, numeric abstraction and concrete placement. I argue that, in the last instance, this concept bears allegiance to its etymological provenance from the Greek nomos and that it veers on the side of an economy, rather than an ecology, of being.
This article contemplates the possibility of a philosophy of nature in and for the twenty-first century. Following an examination of the contemporary critiques of the concept of nature, I propose an alternative approach, inspired by Heraclitus and Friedrich Schelling, according to which nature is not an archaic category, but something yet to come, to be invented and reinvented. At the same time, I argue that the irreducible futurity of nature needs to be set in the context of the current global (...) destruction of ecosystems, which indicates the exhaustion of the fecundity and self-renewal that are at the core of the future-oriented conception of nature as an activity. Hence, whatever is yet to come as far as nature is concerned ought to be anticipated in light of what I call “finite finitude,” implying an ethics that is distinct from the ideologies of infinite renewability. (shrink)
Mountain peaks, like all uninhabitable and barely accessible environments, stand in the way of a clear-cut distinction between “place” and “space.” Building on the environmental thought of Aldo Leopold, as well as the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and twentieth-century phenomenology, I draw attention to this obscure in-between region and argue that the conceptual distinction must be subject to careful adumbration, depending on the concrete place where it is employed. Subsequently, mountains are theorized as the sites of friction between earth and (...) world, where sovereign authority and objectivizing thinking are equally suspended. (shrink)
In this text, I suggest that we approach the theme of “the event” through vegetal processes, concepts, and metaphors. Mediated through plant life, the event unfolds along three axes: 1) that of excrescence, or the out-growth, which is how plants appear in the world; 2) that of expectation, or the out-look, waiting for germination and ultimately for fruition; and 3) that of the exception, or the out-take, which extracts the seed from the closed circuit of potentiality and actuality, committing it (...) to chance. The nascent model I propose sheds light on our animalist prejudices hidden in ostensibly abstract thought and offers a fresh starting point for postmetaphysical ontology. (shrink)
Considering the ways in which plants move and shape the places of their growth, this article suggests that performing arts should account for the vegetal model of movement. The implications of including plants in the category of “moving beings” are vast, as they touch upon the dynamic relation between immanence and transcendence, questions of time-scales appropriate to different kinds of beings and their responses to the environment, and phenomenologies of place corresponding to diverse forms of life. I argue that although, (...) for humans, performing vegetal movement is “performing the unperformable,” art grants us a unique access point to experiencing what is entailed in such movement and in the places wherein it unfolds. (shrink)
In this article I begin to explore Friedrich Nietzsche’s and Jacques Derrida’s philosophies of history in terms of the persistence of forgetting within (non-subjective) memory. In section I, I shall outline the totalizing production of history understood as an unsuccessful attempt to erase the indifference of animality and the difference of madness. The following two sections are concerned with the particular kinds of non-subjective memories—memorials—that arise in the aftermath of this erasure and include writing and the archive (section II), as (...) well as the ghostly and genealogical confusions (section III). Throughout these sections I shall argue that each of the externalizations of memory in non-subjective memorials is contaminated by forgetting, both shaping and shaking up the foundations of history. Finally, section IV revisits the memorials and states of forgetting discussed in the previous sections in light of the (im)possibility of justice. (shrink)
Radical political thought of the 20th century was dominated by utopia, but the failure of communism in Eastern Europe and its disavowal in China has brought on the need for a new model of utopian thought. This book thus seeks to redefine the concept of utopia and bring it to bear on today's politics. The original essays, contributed by key thinkers such as Gianni Vattimo and Jean-Luc Nancy, highlight the connection between utopian theory and practice. The book reassesses the legacy (...) of utopia and conceptualizes alternatives to the neo-liberal, technocratic regimes prevalent in today's world. It argues that only utopia in its existential sense, grounded in the lived time and space of politics, can distance itself from mainstream ideology and not be at the service of technocratic regimes, while paying attention to the material conditions of human life. Existential Utopia offers a new and exciting interpretation of utopia in contemporary culture and a much-needed intervention into the philosophical and political discussion of utopian thinking that is both accessible to students and comprehensive. (shrink)
In this article I argue that, the consciousness of climate change will remain wanting, unless it reaches all the way to the level of self-consciousness. Interrelating the meanings of “climate” and “thinking,” I suggest that only an approach that shuns subjective mastery and distance will be adequate to this peculiar non-object.
ABSTRACT In this short text, I analyze various senses of being in time. My claim is that time forms a weird interiority through an embrace of whatever is “in” it. I, then, flesh out this claim through a close reading of Book IV in Aristotle's Physics, while grafting each “measure of movement,” through which the Greek philosopher defines time, onto the movements of plants. The result is a twisting and turning, ramified, wayward temporality that holds every sense of being in (...) time in a vegetal embrace. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose an ontological-hermeneutical approach to the question of vegetative life. I argue that, though it is a product of the metaphysical traditionthat from Aristotle to Nietzsche ascribes to the life of plants but a single function, the notion of plant-soul is useful for the formulation of a post-metaphysicalphilosophy of vegetation. Offered as a prolegomenon to such thinking about plants, this paper focuses on the multiplicity of meanings, the obscurity, and thepotentialities inherent in their life.
Este artículo teoriza la transición del régimen global geopolítico (es decir, la política de la tierra) a régimen piropolítico, o la política del fuego. En base a filosofía política de Carl Schmitt, la tesis es que la certidumbre, estabilidad y orden arraigados en la tierra están desplazados por la anomia del fuego, como un símbolo y dominio concreto de lo político hoy.
Do we face a new rule of lawlessness? On the high seas, in matters of international law and human rights, and even in domestic prosecutorial practices, any grounds to place one's trust in the lawfulness of order seem increasingly elusive. The New World Order appears to be no order at all; the century of secular universalisms leaves us in the state of a general and all-encompassing nihilism. Still, rather than signaling a dead end rife with global despair, the collapse of (...) everything that went under the name of the New World Order could be a harbinger of ample opportunities for…. (shrink)
Disentangling Complexio OppositorumCarl Schmitt's Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923) features a term, the importance of which political philosophy has yet to fathom. This notion is complexio oppositorum, describing Catholicism as “a complex of opposites”: “There appears to be no antithesis it [Roman Catholicism] does not embrace. It has long and proudly claimed to have united within itself all forms of state and government.…But this complexio oppositorum also holds sway over everything theological.”1 The striking depth and breadth of the complex (...) are already evident in this brief passage. Broadly speaking, its elastic form—and more needs to be said on…. (shrink)
ExcerptThis issue of Telos explores the contours of politics after metaphysics as the horizon for an appropriate response to today's unabating politico-economic crisis. Profound challenges to core institutions of modernity—free-market economy, political liberalism, and parliamentary democracy—have emerged: the expansion of the state into civil society, the subordination of rights to security, and the growth of executive authority. Critical Theory developed, historically, in response to what Max Horkheimer labeled the “authoritarian state,” which has now overflowed the limits of the national polity (...) and permeated the fabric of transnational financial and political institutions. That is where we ought to seek the common…. (shrink)
A reader of previously published and new material (interviews with artists and theorists) devoted to the new and growing field of critical plant studies, and a reader that practices what it covers by arranging and intertwining its contents through a non-hierarchical and articulated manner that allow for different, alternate reading pathways.
This book integrates Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit and contemporary conversations about energy. By interpreting actuality as energy in the Hegelian corpus, the author provides a new lens for understanding the dialectical project and the energy⁰́₁starved condition of our contemporaneity.
This new edition includes recent examples of the uses and accusations of ‘incendiary speech’ both by Donald Trump and by European populist right and exploration of threats of global warming that have now reached a turning point in our collective relation to the dangers and promises of fire.
In contrast to the legal, metaphysically laden, and epistemological paradigms, the ontological interpretation of respect concerns not only the relation between the “subject” and the “object” but also the being of the respected and the respecting. This paper develops an ontology of respect with regard to the human treatment of plants and teases out the meanings of vegetal life that germinate in this relation. What is at stake, I claim, is not so much an objective ontology as the phenomenological disclosure (...) of the meanings of human and vegetal lives, construed “from within,” i.e., both in the context of the interactions between them and from the unique standpoint proper to each kind of being. Far from an ethical supplement to a theoretical description of vegetal beings, respect is the prism through which we may first gain access to plant ontology. (shrink)
“From the concept of the political to the event of politics”: as always, the title is a promise and a contract. In keeping with this titular undertaking, which outlines a certain itinerary or trajectory, the reader might expect to be guided from the abstract sterility of the concept to the concrete level of political events as they unfold in history, from a higher to a lower level of analysis, from the general to the singular, from the speculative (in the Hegelian (...) sense) to the positively demonstrable.1 Right from the outset, let us be clear on the terms of the contract…. (shrink)
ExcerptIt is only fitting that the readers of Telos should be introduced to the thought of contemporary Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo at a certain “end” marked by the last lesson he gave on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Turin on October 14, 2008. Announced here is the coming to a close of a lecture course and of a long and illustrious university career, though not the end of an active theoretical and political engagement. (As far as (...) the latter is concerned, Vattimo was reelected, after a brief hiatus, as a deputy to the European Parliament in…. (shrink)
Two fires are kindled at the threshold of the metaphysical era, and both are extinguished, almost simultaneously, as soon as metaphysics exhausts itself in its final Nietzschean inversion. The political reality of the twenty-first century is, as a whole, a comet tail of these ancient blazes that, until recently, seemed to be older than time itself, gave the impression of being eternal, undying, inextinguishable. How to find one's bearings among the cinders and ashes of what the flames consumed? How to (...) make sense—if make sense we must—of the burnt and smoldering remains,…. (shrink)
This essay imagines the shape a phenomenology of betrayal would assume at the limits of phenomenology. With Caravaggio’s 1602 painting Cattura di Cristo for an aesthetic backdrop, I consider the paradoxical structure of betrayal with its interwoven strands of a surplus disclosure and a breach of trust. I go on to elaborate the relation of this complex term, at once positive and negative, to time, conceptuality, and truth. Ultimately, I am interested in how betrayal as a limit of phenomenology, where (...) the coherence of intentionality and its correlations or of intuition and its fulfillments break down, underwrites the very possibility of phenomenological endeavor. (shrink)