Catastrophe or apocalypse? The anthropocenologist as pedagogue

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The fact that humans are responsible for climate change is certain. But the meaning of the fact of human responsibility is not disclosed by stat- ing the fact: there is a distinction between the two principles, de facto and de jure, the right to state a fact and the right to assert the meaning of the fact. This distinction must be preserved in order that humans may interpret the nature of our responsibility, as a form of justice. In fact, the nature of human responsibility can never be exhaustively determined. To recognise the fact of human responsibility for climate change may only lead us to acknowledge that climate change coincides with the plundering and exploitation of the earth as a natural resource, together with the industrial pollution which fouls our atmosphere. It is something else again to know precisely what must be done, how to think and write and interpret the science, or even what can be achieved before it is too late to prevent the worst effects of global warming. In this essay I analyse the central claims of proponents of the idea of the Anthropocene, arguing that they are arrogant and perhaps even naïve: in particular, the suggestion that humanity and nature have now fused to become a geological force is shown to be theological in its orienta- tion. The essay also exposes Anthropocenology as a form of pedagogy, meaning that rather than opposing the neoliberalism that it attacks, Anthropocenology joins itself to the biopolitical institutions of educa- tion, seizing power in order to govern a totalized human population all the more effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • anthropocene
  • derrida
  • pedagogy

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