Habit rules our lives. And yet climate change and the catastrophic future it portends make it clear that we cannot go on like this.
Our habits are integral to narratives of the good life, to social norms and expectations, as well as to economic reality. Such shared shapes are vital. Yet while many of our individual habits seem perfectly reasonable, when aggregated they spell disaster. Beyond consumerism, other forms of life and patterns of dwelling are clearly possible. But how can we get there from here? Who precisely is the “we” that our habits have created, and who else might we be?
Philosophy is about emancipation—from illusions, myths, and oppression. In Reoccupy Earth, the noted philosopher David Wood shows how an approach to philosophy attuned to our ecological existence can suspend the taken-for-granted and open up alternative forms of earthly dwelling. Sharing the Earth, as we do, raises fundamental questions about space and time, place and history, territory and embodiment—questions that philosophy cannot directly answer but can help us to frame and to work out for ourselves.
Bringing an uncommon lucidity, directness, and even practicality to sophisticated philosophical questions, Wood plots experiential pathways that disrupt our habitual existence and challenge our everyday complacency. In walking us through a range of reversals, transformations, and estrangements that thinking ecologically demands, Wood shows how living responsibly with the Earth means affirming the ways in which we are vulnerable, receptive, and dependent, and the need for solidarity all round.
If we take seriously values like truth, justice, and compassion, we must be willing to contemplate that the threat we pose to the Earth might demand our own species’ demise. Yet we have the capacity to live responsibly. In an unfashionable but spirited defense of an enlightened anthropocentrism, Wood argues that to deserve the privileges of reason we must demonstrably deploy it through collective sustainable agency. Only in this way can we reinhabit the Earth.
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Wood offers an insightful account of the ecological condition as it is shaped by habit, experience, and an ethics of the everyday. While much has been written about ecology, the Anthropocene, and the politics of place, little theoretical work has brought ecology to the realm of lived experience and the ways in which humans constitute meaning. Reoccupy Earth does so with depth and sensitivity.- Amanda Boetzkes, author of The Ethics of Earth Art
David Wood is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. His most recent book is Deep Time, Dark Times: On Being Geologically Human.