UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
THE METAPHORICAL AND COGNITIVE IMPLICATIONS OF THE POST-ECOCIDAL TURN:
THE SCIENCES AND THE HUMANITIES
Call for Papers
As many with a concern for the state of the world will readily agree, we are at a turning point in the processes of knowledge production. The perspectives, metaphors and myths that inform our claims to knowledge need thorough revision. To be sure, if we take the waging of ecocides as the yardstick, then the Western intellectual tradition starting with Parmenides and Socrates all the way up to our days may be regarded as a virtually unbroken monolith with the exception of some authors probably including Giambattista Vico and marginalized traditions such as ecofeminism. On the whole, however, the onto-logical, epistemo-logical or/and anthropocentric —which often more reductionistically rather means 'androcentric'— allegiances exhibited on the part of mainstream Western intellectuals have entailed the destruction of the oikos to different degrees.
This conference seeks the radical rethinking of the metaphors, world perspectives and cognitive approaches upon which the hard sciences and the humanities feed. This may indeed entail the bravely overcoming of our slavery relation to onto-logy, epistemo-logy and thus also of logocentrism. On — 'being', episteme —'theoretical knowledge of abstract universals'— and logos —'word', 'speech', 'reason'— circumscribe our approach to the world in a manner that may not be necessarily beneficial in light of our post-ecocidal quest.
'Ecocidal', for its part, ought to be understood in the broadest etymological sense. Oikos means 'household'. We should apprehend this rubric in an utterly post-anthropocentric sense. This signifies that household turns into the habitat of the rock, the sand, the sea, the sea urchin, the seaweed, the seagull, the nettle, the holm oak, the parrot, the skies, the little baby and the grown-up as mere metonymies of the whole of creation. It must be noted that the order of this list does not imply an ascendant hierarchy as in Darwinism. Which means that as a starting basis to further develop post-ecocidal philosophies and frameworks post-Darwinism may be certainly implied.
To come up with new metaphors and imaginatively set forth novel cognitive reconfigurations, we must first be thoroughly acquainted with the old patterns of thought and attendant knowledge constructions —what in a reductionistically manner goes by the name of ontology and epistemology. A great deal of work has been undertaken by postmodern and poststructuralist authors in this direction. On the other hand, ecocides offer a distinctive perspective of our contemporaneity. Contributions exploring the ecocidal metaphors and myths of the Western metaphysical tradition are highly welcome.
Guiding Research Questions
The following may be taken as guiding research questions for this conference:
- Intellectual legacy: who are the forebears of the post-ecocidal turn? What makes them qualify as such?
- Does the post-ecocidal turn imply the erasing of the division line between the sciences and the humanities? What alternative banner(s) may best define the recasting of the scientia/philosophia divide?
- In the same vein, if we are to trace a post-ecocidal turn in our processes of knowledge production, do 'science', 'philosophy', 'humanities' emerge as unfit and obsolete rubrics? Does our reassembling entail new parting lines, say, ecocidal/non-ecocidal or embodying/dis-embodying/re-embodying?
- Relatedly, what is the status we accord to, to which extent do we respect, the disciplines 'natural science', 'physics', 'chemistry', 'history', 'religion', 'sociology', you name it? Should we aim at a supra-discipline? Is specialized knowledge invariably ecocidal?
- What is the fate of the classical binary pairs nature/culture, subject/object and so on?
- Post-ecocidal practices entail wholesale redressing of Western/ized lifestyles: do we need to hold to the grand-narrative to achieve this end?
- Must we part with Western metaphysics and thus definitively abandon the ontological and epistemological projects?
- Relatedly, if we relinquish the description of being(s) —ontology— and the search for abstract universals —epistemology— and indeed a non-ecocidal attitude entails first and foremost respect for other, does philosophy —as the great Emmanuel Levinas underscored— and, a fortiori, the production of knowledge, equate fully with ethics? What does a post-ecocidal ethics look like?
A publishing house will be sought in order to make the reworked contributions to this conference available to the larger scholarly community. The topic —namely, the post-ecocial turn across the sciences and the humanities— is the one guiding the convener's own scholarship. I hold paramount interest in this research direction and will be happy to act as chief editor of the ensuing collection.
Abstracts of up to 500 words should be sent to the convener (Dr.) Ruth Thomas-Pellicer . Post-graduate students and scholars across the board are welcome to take part. Upon acceptance, submitted papers cannot surpass the 6,000-word limit excluding footnotes and bibliography.
INTELLECTUAL ATTITUDES HIGHLY ENCOURAGED
IN THIS CONFERENCE
Defying Established Thought: Originality and Relevance
Michel Foucault professes in Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, a work published in 1980, that 'The only tribute to thought [...] is precisely to use it, to deform it, to make it groan and protest.' This is precisely the slant strongly recommended to the attendant to the conference. There is no point in submitting an abstract with a re-make of the tradition. This conference is fully focused upon the originality of thought that follows from enthusiastically engaging the conference topic. Only in this case originality and relevance meet.
Searching New Myths and Metaphors
Renowned comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell was very aware of the historical turning point we are undergoing. In his The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion published in 1986, a year before his death, we read 'The old gods are dead or dying and people everywhere are searching, asking: What is the new mythology to be, the mythology of this unified earth as of one harmonious being?'. Once we have endeavoured to warp thought we enjoy free way to generate the new mythology, which at least partially may be based upon ancestral traditions, and metaphors of knowledge. The post-ecocidal turn being one of them. Similarly, in the introduction to Philosophy, Law and Ecology: Exploring Re-Embodiments, Ruth Thomas Pellicer and Vito de Lucia have proposed the myth of solvere —the etymological root of 'solve', 'dissolve', 'resolve'— as the one defining the Western trajectory. As guiding metaphor we rather propose religare, which means to bind fast and is one of the attributed etymological roots of religion.
Building New Intellectual Structures
In the same vein, the leading Marxist world-system analyst Immanuel Wallerstein emphasizes the need to go beyond the intellectual structures that put us into, rephrased in our terms, the ecocidal straitjacket. In his The Limits of Nineteenth-Century Paradigms: Unthinking Social Science, published in a second edition in 2001, we read '[...] the world of knowledge has been facing a basic epistemological challenge, that of overcoming the artificial divide of the "two cultures" and creating a new, reunified epistemology of scientia/philosophia. In the decade to come this will turn out to be, I believe, the central intellectual issue of the world of knowledge and will lead not merely to new intellectual constructions, but inevitably to new structures of knowledge and a radical revision of the cultures that inform the life of the academy'.
Post-Secular Exploratory Outlook
In the second edition of his Ecological Ethics: An Introduction, Patrick Curry writes 'The only alternative, as I have tried to show, is a better kind of religion, one with the earth and all its life, rather than money at its heart, which I describe as animism'. Namely, Curry associates a post-capitalism society with its own re-sacralization.
Literature abounds (Polanyi, Berger, Otto, Eliade just to name a few) upon the remark that pre-capitalist, non- or, at any rate, less intensively ecocidal cultures, have held a pervading sense of the sacred.
This conferences is strongly concerned with how post-ecocidal metaphors, myths and cognitive structures conduce to post-secular approaches. In this context, the old clash transcendence vs. immanence ought to reemerge with distinctive recharacterizations.