Conference presentations by our graduate students.
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Meditations on Life, Death, and Technology in the Style of a Japanese Poet(Stony Brook University, 2012-03)In this paper, I will attempt to resurrect the essence of this poetry in the form of a philosophic essay, in response to the riddle “Still Life?”, already initiated with a brief reflection on the history of Japanese renga, carried forward through a series of reflections on the relationship between language and the world, language and death, and concluded with a surprising hypothesis on the relationship between language and life, written in the context of the ecological disaster threatening humanity with extinction.
Cosmogenetic Labour in the Crisis of the Anthropocene(2013-02-14)As the insights from anthropology slowly filter into philosophy, it is becoming clear that technology should not be thought of as a contingent product of the European Enlightenment; instead, in the words of archaeologist Timothy Taylor, “technology, within the framework of some 2 to 3 million years, has, physically and mentally, made us.”1 Our huge brains, our dexterous hands, our upright stance, our ability to speak – these distinct characteristics of our biology could only evolve in the context of a new kind of development, a complexifying matrix of techniques and artifacts. Taylor calls us “a new, symbiont form of life,” with the technology that we project around ourselves forming “the nonbiological aspect of the artificial ape.”2 I argue that this insight calls for a massive change in perspective. In short, we need to understand life as an explosion. Growing out of geothermal vents into the oceans, out of the oceans onto the land, this explosion is now constrained by the barrier of the atmosphere, beyond which lies the void of space. The only way the living explosion will ever be able to transcend this barrier is through the kind of symbiosis between technology and biology described by Taylor. With reference to the long neglected ecological thought of Krafft Ehricke, I argue that the ecological crisis should not be seen as the death-throws of nature, but rather as the birth-pangs of a new mode of life, the crisis whereby the biosphere expands beyond the geosphere, to infuse extraterrestrial fields of matter with the beauty of living form. As the progenitors of technology, this cosmogenetic labour is one of the duties of humanity with regard to the living process that birthed us. 1 Timothy Taylor, The Artificial Ape (), 198. 2 Taylor, The Artificial Ape, 194.