Efficiency Versus Enjoyment: Looking After the Human Condition in the Transition to the Bio-Based Economy

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 34 (6):1-19 (2021)
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In this paper, we criticize the current focus of the bio-based economy (BBE) on efficiency and control and demonstrate the contradictions that this causes. We elucidate these tensions by comparing the BBE to alternative conceptions of economy that emphasise the relevance of both the human condition and unfathomable nature in the macro ecological transition project. From Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy, we take and extrapolate two major concepts—il y a and enjoyment—that help to re-evaluate the status of both nature and the human subject involved in environmental instability. From this analysis, we evaluate current economic practice in close relation to the deteriorating environment to contribute to a conception of an economy that is truly based on principles of the biosphere. We conclude that humankind and nature are notions that must be always considered in this encompassing and topical effort and explain how they have been fundamentally overlooked in current thought on the bio-based and circular economy.

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Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research