Precisely Who Would This Be For? Composing, 15/04/2014

So I got enough initial feedback on my draft of my Ecophilosophy book publishing proposal that I can finally complete the thing. Guidance in writing a proposal was never really a major focus of my doctoral education; I think it was just something my program’s designers thought we’d pick up as we went along. But my own work creates something of a problem for publication because my larger projects cut across several areas of philosophy at the same time. It’s easier to say what books with which your own would compete in the intellectual marketplace when you have a topic precisely defined by disciplinary standards. 

I’ll give you a basic outline of the Ecophilosophy manuscript as an example of the difficulty I have categorizing my work. Essentially, it’s about creating an ecological self-consciousness. Call it an experiment in ethical post-humanism. 

Chapter one introduces the concept of nature’s intrinsic value as it’s been developed and critiqued in environmental moral philosophy, and the existentialist dilemma by which I resurrect its relevance. The next chapter sticks with environmental moral philosophy, but focusses now on a critique of the oppositional view of humanity and nature, to show that caring for nature doesn’t imply disdaining humanity. Something like my critique of Lee Edelman yesterday, my problem here is that such a choice is a false problem. There’s nothing in the essence of humanity that makes us inherently anti-natural.

Environmental activists, or revolutionaries of any kind,
don't need complex philosophical arguments and concepts
to spur them to action. If anything, people like me only get
in the way of the mission. So do we philosophers do?
Chapter three gets explicitly political, as I explore the problems of embedding a movement that began (and remains) a rebellious, activist path in the curriculum of a university. And further, philosophy is especially ill-suited to revolutionary politics because of its tendency to critique and make complex everything in sight. Philosophers undermine their own political revolutions through the force of their analysis. 

Chapter four gets more than a little strange, as I explain the ontological concepts that ground my creative answer to these problems. First, reality is inherently processual. Nothing in the world is permanent and everything is in flux. The source of this flux is that every body in the universe (even those that appear stable at first glance, like bricks and mountains) is constituted from the motion of other bodies. From this, I conclude that there are no simple bodies. instead all bodies are composed of parts, both internally and externally. Because all bodies are processes, they cannot be said to contain parts in the conventional sense. Instead, a body is part of another when it is involved in the processes that generate, maintain, or change that other body. So because all these processes are fundamentally interdependent, from that perspective, the entire universe is a single, immensely complex body.

The following three chapters combine the conceptual machinery of chapter four with several scientific and philosophical fields — metabolic biology, systems theory, just a dash of cognitive science, phenomenology, animal behaviour, complexity and chaos theory, Deleuze and Guattari’s ontology of intensity and flux — to define the nature of the self as it arises from this complicated swirl of processes. Indeed, we’re each one of those complicated swirls. 

As well, on the recommendation of some of the more advanced professors who have given me feedback, I’m going to add an afterword, following my actual conclusion where I wrap up all this philosophy. That’s going to cover, in brief form, the basic framework of the political institutions and approaches to law that a society of people who thought in this way would enact. I only just thought of this afterword yesterday afternoon, so the details aren’t quite worked out yet.

But what do you think of this idea? What kinds of books do you think it would compete with in the market? Who would its intellectual cousins be? What do you think particularly of my pitch as a philosopher who develops experiments in ethical post-humanism, literally re-conceiving ourselves to overcome the flaws of our humanity? I write philosophy that consists of plans and diagrams for an √úbermenschen factory.

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