Non-Human Value

Larval Subjects is up with a post tonight on non-human values. Putting to the side the question of meaning, which is heavily discussed in the semantics of Anglo-American realism, I think a lot of this work is already done in environmental studies. Why not piggy back on them? (Note to self: find a less “use pigs as mules” metaphor) Basically I’ve left the latter part of the Realism class I’m teaching now under the heading of “to be announced.” (That’s a first for any syllabus I’ve ever had.) I want to see how the class does with the first set of readings before making a final decision in the next couple of weeks on the precise readings. Basically, I had an idea of what I wanted to cover if the Re:Press volume on speculative realism would have come out. But I’ve already gotten Mark Woods, who teaches in my department, to share part of his book-in-progress on wilderness studies. They are working with many of the same programs, speculatively speaking, of how to pivot to non-anthropocentric conceptions of “nature” (not in the old sense of the other side of the culture/nature binary), which means not using utilitarian notions (good environment = happier people as an end) to ground the work they are doing. Woods in particular, I think, speaks to this in a way that matches up well with this, and I think it will make a nice capper to the course, after so much other work on Latour, Meillassoux, Harman, Bryant, etc. In other words, some might be doing an object oriented philosophy, but that doesn’t mean this philosophy may not help human beings rethink conception that found intra-human ethical conceptions. Or at least, that’s a good question to raise in a realism class.

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