Sverre Raffnsøe : The Anthropocene as a Cosmological Turn

On The October 12, 2020

26 Place Bellecour - Lyon

As urgent as it may be, the discussion of global warming as the greatest ever threat to human civilization is but one example that the overall ‘climate’ on Earth is changing to such an extent that survival is at risk. This issue should be understood within the wider context of the Anthropocene. Since it forms an overarching framework for understanding the significance of climate change, population growth, environmental strains and other global Grand Challenges, the Anthropocene is arguable among the most important and wide-ranging questions of our time.

Heralded as a new epoch distinguishing itself from all foregoing eons in the history of the Earth, the Anthropocene forms the common denominator for a wide array of realizations that an all-decisive threshold in the history of the Earth and humankind is being crossed: Human activities are gaining overarching importance and beginning to play a dominant role in key processes of the earth system. This alters the material conditions of subsistence for human beings so radically that the ground on which humankind has stood is quaking. Our very existence and being, position and role in the world, and our perception of ourselves are at stake.

A previously unexperienced, intimate and precarious relationship between humankind and the Earth is established with the Anthropocene that implies a new conception of the order of the world and of the role of humans within it.

Sverre Raffnsøe is Professor of Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School and editor-in-chief of the international journal Foucault Studies and a 2020-2021 fellow at the Collegium de Lyon.