Wesleyan University

William Connolly: Extinction Events and Entangled Humanism


This is a chapter in a book in production called Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming. The chapter addresses the intercoded limits of human exceptionalism and sociocentrism, tying both to a tacit assumption of gradualism with respect to large planetary processes such as species evolution, climate, ocean currents, glacier flows and so on. After defining and exemplifying the first two concepts in prominent work it shows how recent breaks with gradualism in the earth sciences trouble them. It briefly presents two examples of rapid, dramatic change in planetary processes, even before the rise of the Anthropocene. After exploring institutional and existential sources of reluctance in the humanities and human sciences to break with exceptionalism and sociocentrism, it advances a notion of entangled humanism as one aspect of an alternative urgently needed today.

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