Time that is intolerant

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


First, there was climate change: we might have thought that nature was an infinite resource, or — more Romantically — a figure of eternal and harmonious order that appeared as if in accord with human ideas of morality and progress. It has become apparent for some time now that nature is as historical and finite as every other living system. This has prompted Tim Morton (2007) to argue for an ecology, without nature; ‘nature’ as a timeless and pre-human ground was invented alongside a subjectivity for whom the world was nothing more (and nothing less) than a milieu for the unfolding of meaning. This ‘nature’ has always been proto-human (never ‘objective’ in the way we might imagine), and for this reason can never be grasped as such, precisely because it exists only as that which we presuppose as out of reach. Rather than Kant’s nature that is the consequence of the synthesizing imagination, and that must be posited by science and morality as unknowable but ultimately coherent, climate change prompts us to think about our milieu as anything but eternal, and as offering itself as (to use Bruno Latour’s phrase) a ‘matter of concern’ (Latour 2008). We do not, Latour insists, exist as historical agents against a stable and timeless nature, for nature is part of an overall milieu of composition in which we are affected as respondents to a world that is always unfolded from our practices. When we talk about climate change, then, we need to place the climate of weather, environments, geology and ecosystems within a broader critical sense of ‘climate’ as the presupposed ground that enables us to think of ourselves as agents and individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMemory in the Twenty-First Century
Subtitle of host publicationNew Critical Perspectives from the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781137520586
ISBN (Print)9781137520579
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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