This book introduces the idea of anthroponomy – the organization of humankind to support autonomous life – as a response to the problems of today’s purported "Anthropocene" age. It argues for a specific form of accountability for the redressing of planetary-scaled environmental problems.
The concept of anthroponomy helps confront geopolitical history shaped by the social processes of capitalism, colonialism, and industrialism, which have resulted in our planetary situation. Involving Anthroponomy in the Anthropocene: On Decoloniality explores how mobilizing our engagement with the politics of our planetary situation can come from moral relations. This book focuses on the anti-imperial work of addressing unfinished decolonization, and hence involves the "decolonial" work of cracking open the common sense of the world that supports ongoing colonization. "Coloniality" is the name for this common sense, and the discourse of the "Anthropocene" supports it. A consistent anti-imperial and anti-capitalist politics, one committed to equality and autonomy, will problematize the Anthropocene through decoloniality. Sometimes the way forward is the way backward.
Written in a novel style that demonstrates – not simply theorizes – moral relatedness, this book makes a valuable contribution to the fields of Anthropocene studies, environmental studies, decolonial studies, and social philosophy.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; Preface: on the essay form; 1. How should I engage in community politics?; 2. How should I relate to colonialism?; 3. How should I understand my responsibility and show it?; 4. How should I respond to the "Anthropocene"?; 5. How should I involve anthroponomy in the course and prospect of my life?; 6. What could others make of anthroponomy and how can I support them?; In Belle Valley; On the Farm: Julia D. Gibson; Glossary; Index
Jeremy Bendik-Keymer holds the Beamer-Schneider Professorship in Ethics at Case Western Reserve University. He authored The Ecological Life and two works in literary philosophy, Solar Calendar, and Other Ways of Marking Time and The Wind. He co-edited Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change.
"Involving Anthroponomy is a deceptive book, simply because it is so beautifully written. Yet the subject matter at the heart of its analysis is anything but tranquil. Bendik-Keymer courageously confronts the Anthropocene’s systemic moral ambivalence, and lays bare the complicity of our social systems that are responsible for the planetary socio-ecological destruction being committed in the name of progress. In pursuit of such progress, our planet’s integrity and the deeply unjust lived realities of billions of its people have become dire. Either we continue to accept this with apathy, delusion and disorientation, as he says, or we demand "systems that do not render us heteronomous, that don’t dominate any of us, systems where participating in social processes won’t contradict our convictions and perpetuate injustice." This will become a seminal work, forcing us as it does, to rethink our place in, and responsibility for, the living order."
- Louis J. Kotzé, Research Professor, North-West University, South Africa; Senior Professorial Fellow in Earth System Law, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
"Bendik-Keymer is doing something remarkable, and important, here. He offers an account of our place in the world with each other, including the lands we inhabit (sometimes illegitimately) and the other creatures surrounding us on the Earth, seeing all these as morally connected. He then suggests that recognizing our connection might help us understand how to live. "Environmental ethics" and "environmental justice," in his account, are inextricably bound up with questions of personal autonomy and thoughtful community, and at the same time with difficult questions about the impact of colonialism and capitalism on our lives, our minds, and on the world we inhabit."
- Steven Vogel, Professor of Philosophy, Denison University, Author of Thinking like a Mall: Environmental Philosophy after the End of Nature
What is it to be a settler in a settler state? How does one make sense of place in a world warping towards destruction? What parameters might define living well across generations and with more than human realms? How does one become responsible to and with the smallest fleck of life and simultaneously all being that is planet earth? Jeremy Bendik-Keymer's novel set of reflections – moves us – where 'us' might be construed as the author himself in community with his readers – from moments of intimate contemplation and heartfelt anxiety to a place of stimulating possibility for reconfiguring nested sets of relationships that span from the hearth to the planetary, from colonial wrongdoing to intergenerational accountability.
This work is vital and timely. As I write, fires blaze through the forests of Greece & Turkey and down the west coast of North America, while floods devastate villages in Europe, Japan, and the Indian subcontinent, and melting permafrosts release methane into the atmosphere. The Anthropocene is not a metaphor.
Involving Anthroponomy in the Anthropocene steps us through Bendik-Keymer's journey from paralytic anxiety to one of powerful engagement with what needs to be done. [It] leads the reader to address the injustice of colonisation (past and present), acknowledge globally destructive systemic forces, and to negotiate a social evolution responsible to future generations of human and more than human being on earth.
This is an intimate work. And in its intimacy it guides us towards deciding for ourselves what is the right thing to do.
- Christine Winter, Research Fellow, Sydney Environmental Institute, University of Sydney, Author of Subjects of Intergenerational Justice: Indigenous Philosophy, the Environment, and Relationships