Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World
Publication Year: 2013
Having set global warming in irreversible motion, we are facing the possibility of ecological catastrophe. But the environmental emergency is also a crisis for our philosophical habits of thought, confronting us with a problem that seems to defy not only our control but also our understanding. Global warming is perhaps the most dramatic example of what Timothy Morton calls “hyperobjects”—entities of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that they defeat traditional ideas about what a thing is in the first place. In this book, Morton explains what hyperobjects are and their impact on how we think, how we coexist with one another and with nonhumans, and how we experience our politics, ethics, and art.
Moving fluidly between philosophy, science, literature, visual and conceptual art, and popular culture, the book argues that hyperobjects show that the end of the world has already occurred in the sense that concepts such as world, nature, and even environment are no longer a meaningful horizon against which human events take place. Instead of inhabiting a world, we find ourselves inside a number of hyperobjects, such as climate, nuclear weapons, evolution, or relativity. Such objects put unbearable strains on our normal ways of reasoning.
Insisting that we have to reinvent how we think to even begin to comprehend the world we now live in, Hyperobjects takes the first steps, outlining a genuinely postmodern ecological approach to thought and action.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication
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Cary Wolfe (the Posthumanities series editor) and Douglas Armato (thedirector of the University of Minnesota Press) deserve deep thanks fortheir support of this project, as does Steven Shaviro, whose kind readingof the book was both helpful and inspiring. Associate editor DanielleKasprzak ably saw the book through production. Thanks also to Nicolas...
A Quake in Being: An Introduction to Hyperobjects
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In The Ecological Thought I coined the term hyperobjects to refer to thingsthat are massively distributed in time and space relative to humans.1 Ahyperobject could be a black hole. A hyperobject could be the LagoAgrio oil field in Ecuador, or the Florida Everglades. A hyperobject couldbe the biosphere, or the Solar System. A hyperobject could be the sum...
PART I. What Are Hyperobjects?
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I do not access hyperobjects across a distance, through some transparentmedium. Hyperobjects are here, right here in my social and experientialspace. Like faces pressed against a window, they leer at me menacingly:their very nearness is what menaces. From the center of the galaxy, asupermassive black hole impinges on my awareness, as if it were sitting...
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When I look at the sun gleaming on the solar panels on my roof, I amwatching global warming unfold. Carbon compounds and other mole-cules in the upper atmosphere magnify the burning intensity of the sunin the Great Central Valley of California. Yet I do not see global warmingas such. I see this brilliant blade of sunlight, burning the top of my head...
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When you approach an object, more and more objects emerge. It’s likebeing in a dream written by Zeno. Hyperobjects envelop us, yet theyare so massively distributed in time that they seem to taper off, like along street stretched into the distance. Time bends them and flattensthem, the same way that an electromagnetic wave front shortens at its...
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When I look at Untitled 2011 by the Aboriginal artist Yukultji Napangati,I am gripped immediately in the tractor beam of the painting, whichseems to be gazing at me as much as or more than I am looking at it(Plate 1). A simple JPEG of the painting doesn’t look like much. It’s alarg ish square of thin brown waving lines, hand drawn. Yet as I approach...
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In a gigantic bamboo forest on Qi Lai Mountain in central Taiwan, it isas if one is surrounded by a theater of air, leaves, and stalks. The bamboosways, sometimes violently, sometimes delicately, to the wind that rushesthrough it. Each gust causes a cascade of bamboo clicks to sound infront, to the right, to the left, and behind. A ridiculously complex assem-...
PART II. The Time of Hyperobjects
The End of the World
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You are walking out of the supermarket. As you approach your car, astranger calls out, “Hey! Funny weather today!” With a due sense ofcaution—is she a global warming denier or not?—you reply yes. Thereis a slight hesitation. Is it because she is thinking of saying somethingabout global warming? In any case, the hesitation induced you to think...
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A small boy runs in front of an oncoming truck. You watch in horror asyou realize the truck can’t slow down in time. You think you should savethe boy, but you are unsure. Still, the moment compels you to act: yourush into the street and grab the boy, yanking him out of the way just intime. As the truck bears down on you both, you manage to half stumble,...
The Age of Asymmetry
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...(1) The essence of things is elsewhere (in the deep structure of capital,the unconscious, atoms, evolution, the cosmic order, and so on);Philosophies, like elections, have consequences. The restriction of thischoice between these two options is one reason why Earth is in big trou-ble. The choice resembles having to pick between grayish brown and...
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About the Author, Other Works in the Series
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TIMOTHY MORTON is Rita Shea Guffey Chair of English at Rice University.He is the author of several books, including The Ecological Thought and...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Posthumanities