Cosmologies of the Anthropocene: Panpsychism, Animism, and the Limits of Posthumanism, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Cosmologies of the Anthropocene

Panpsychism, Animism, and the Limits of Posthumanism, 1st Edition

By Arne Johan Vetlesen


270 pages

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Hardback: 9780367182922
pub: 2019-03-19
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This book engages with the classic philosophical question of mind and matter, seeking to show its altered meaning and acuteness in the era of the Anthropocene. Arguing that matter, and, more broadly, the natural world, has been misconceived since Descartes, it explores the devastating impact that this has had in practice in the West. As such, alternatives are needed, whether philosophical ones such as those offered by figures such as Whitehead and Nagel, or posthumanist ones such as those developed by Barad and Latour. Drawing on recent anthropological work ignored by philosophers and sociologists alike, the author considers a radical alternative cosmology: animism understood as panpsychism in practice. This understanding of mind and matter, of culture and nature, is then turned against present-day posthumanist critiques of what the Anthropocene amounts to, showing them up as philosophically misguided, politically mute, and ethically wanting. A ground-breaking reconceptualization of the natural world and our treatment of it, Cosmologies of the Anthropocene will appeal to scholars of sociology, social theory, philosophy and anthropology with interests in our understanding of and relationship with nature.

Table of Contents


Introduction: From Anthropocentrism to the Anthropocene

1. Getting it Right about Mind, Nature, and Cosmos

2. Panpsychism as "Inner Physics": Whitehead’s Project

3. Prospects and Pitfalls of Agential Realism

4. Animism – Panpsychism in Practice

5. Agency Posthumanist Style: Proliferation or Decimation?

About the Author

Arne Johan Vetlesen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is the author of A Philosophy of Pain; Evil and Human Agency: Understanding Collective Evildoing; Perception, Empathy, and Judgment;and The Denial of Nature: Environmental Philosophy in the Era of Global Capitalism.

About the Series

Morality, Society and Culture

Morality, Society and Culture

The Morality, Society and Culture series publishes rigorous scholarly work exploring how questions of what we should do and how we ought to live are expressed and practised in contemporary social relationships and culture. How do ideas about what is right and good shape action and identities? Can cultural texts such as films, television, literature and art be guides for living? What do often abstract moral values mean in daily life? This series explores how and to what effect questions of meaning, identity and action are inextricably entwined with contemporary social and cultural forms, texts and relationships. The books in this series offer new understandings of the connection of morality, society and culture.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General