Abstract

This article interrogates a commonly accepted conception of "sustainability" first formulated in the Brundtland Commission Report of 1987. Stoekl argues that notions of sustainability that are vague as to what is being sustained, and for how long a time, are fundamentally incoherent. Stoekl proposes two conceptions of sustainability, a restrained and a general, that both derive from a recognition that a sustainability based on a calculation of external costs is impossible, given the fundamental incalculability of external cost. This is not to say, however, that the calculation of external costs need not be engaged in, but rather that that its necessity results in a kind of sublime, a sense of awe before a towering task. The sublime itself implies a subject-centered experience, however, which the incalculabilities put in question. This leads to the formulation of a post-sublime implying two sustainabilities: a second order, or restrained, one, entailing the mobilization of fictions and aesthetico-sacred fabulation in the face of ecological disaster, and a first-order, or general one, in which the necessity of the human origin and end is put more thoroughly in question.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
pp. 40-57
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-17
Open Access
No
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