Ecological Finitude as Ontological Finitude: Radical Hope in the Anthropocene

In Richard Polt & Jon Wittrock (eds.), The Task of Philosophy in the Anthropocene: Axial Echoes in Global Space. New York: Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 175-192 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The proposal that the earth has entered a new epoch called “the Anthropocene” has touched a nerve . One unsettling part of having our ecological finitude thrust upon us with the term “Anthropocene” is that, as Nietzsche said of the death of God, we ourselves are supposed to be the collective doer responsible here, yet this is a deed which no one individual meant to do and whose implications no one fully comprehends. For the pessimists about humanity, the implications seem rather straightforward: humanity will die. Yet, as we will explore in this paper, the death that we may be facing cannot be assumed to be simply biological death or extinction. Indeed, even if we are not running headlong into a mass extinction and biological demise, we do seem to be facing an ontological death. Our ecological finitude is the harbinger of our ontological finitude. The vulnerability we confront in the Anthropocene is what Jonathan Lear, in a different context, called ontological vulnerability. Worlds die too; the ways of life they sustain can become impossible, ceasing to make sense and matter. The constitutive susceptibility of all human worlds to their eventual collapse is what we mean by ontological finitude. This is what we face as presumed denizens in a dawning Anthropocene.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Saving Earth: encountering Heidegger's philosophy of technology in the anthropocene.Jochem Zwier & Vincent Blok - 2017 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 21 (2/3):222-242.
Ecological Trust: An Object-Oriented Perspective.Tom Sparrow - 2017 - Philosophy Today 61 (1):99-115.
Beyond Adaptation and Anthropomorphism.Danika Drury-Melnyk - 2017 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 21 (2/3):363-385.
Loss of Epistemic Self-Determination in the Anthropocene.Ian Werkheiser - 2017 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 20 (2):156-167.
Heidegger on Human Finitude: Beginning at the End.Oren Magid - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (3):657-676.
Comments on Jonathan Lear’s Radical Hope.Hubert L. Dreyfus - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 144 (1):63-70.
Temporal finitude and finitude of possibility: The double meaning of death in being and time.Havi Carel - 2007 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (4):541 – 556.
The Natural History of Aesthetics.Thomas H. Ford - 2015 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 9 (2):220-239.


Added to PP

513 (#19,884)

6 months
53 (#24,730)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

B. Scot Rousse
University of California, Berkeley

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations