“No human thing is of serious importance” – Plato
Abandon the arrogance of anthropocentrism. This is the message in a new book by Timothy Morton, a philosopher and professor at Rice University. It is called “Being Ecological” and seeks a new approach to “a pleasurable reconnection to the biosphere”.
Morton fulminates against ecology books, which can be confusing dumps that are out of date by the time they drop on you. “Information dumps slapping you upside the head so you feel bad. ” The more flimsy the facts the more passionate the advocates. “Don’t question this,” we are warned. “You should feel very bad if you question this.” Crude guilt leading to crude belief. “Why don’t we even want to pause to figure it out? What are we scared we might find? ”
There are plenty of ways of living ecological knowledge, Morton writes. Being a hippy is a whole way of life, a whole style.
“Think about the Internet. It used to be a place huge numbers of people had access to. We could be amused, playful, experimental, anarchic. Then something strange happened. Loads more people got the Internet and a whole lot of the Internet became a really coercive, authoritarian space where you had to have one of about three acceptable opinions or risk being dumped on by a screaming mob of judgemental twitterers.”
“Being Ecological” is a way of peering under the hood of how we talk to ourselves about ecology. “The main way — just dumping data on ourselves — is actually inhibiting a more genuine way of handling ecological knowledge. There are better ways of living all of this than we have right now, and we don’t even know we are living it right now. We are like people caught in a habitual pattern, going along repeating the same thing without even realising it. It’s like we find ourselves at the sink, compulsively washing our hands, and we don’t even know how we got there.”
“Being Ecological” was first published two months ago by Penguin.