Eco-phenomenology and Passivity

September 28, 2023 - September 30, 2023
Interdisciplinary Phenomenology Research Group, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Tromsø 9019

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


University of the Basque Country
Pennsylvania State University

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Eco-Phenomenology and Passivity Conference

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Place: UiT – The Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø)

Dates: 28-30 September 2023

Phenomenology is a tradition of thinking that acknowledges the already-givenness of our bodies, our relationships to others, and the ecosystems in which we live. Since the founding of the field in the early twentieth century, phenomenologists have taken an interest in the ways that humans engage the world that precedes us, but it was only in the last twenty years that scholars recognized the potential phenomenology could have for environmental ethics and the ongoing multi-disciplinary rethinking of our human relationship to the more-than-human world. Since then, scholars approaching environmental ethics from within philosophy, literature, theology, anthropology, and cognitive science have drawn consistently on the vocabulary and methodologies of phenomenology to approach questions of: how we understand and can better anticipate human impacts on ecosystems; what it means to dwell/be at home in a specific ecosystem; what role the perception of animals plays in individual and community environmental impact; and how human embodiment can be reconceived as dependent on the natural world that exceeds us. Related to this are questions of cultural ways of being toward nature that undermine the assumption of human dominance.

Building on prior work on the phenomenology of embodiment, subjectivity, ethics, and most recently passivity, this conference consolidates contemporary thinking on the phenomenology of passivity and environmental ethics. Passivity is a key concept in phenomenology. By passivity, we refer to all the ways in which we receive and are conditioned by the surrounding world prior to active attempts to master it. Thus far, passivity´s relevance to environmental philosophy and ethics has been obscured by a focus on environmental activism. Indeed, from an activist perspective, passivity tends to be understood as a “do-nothing” attitude that will lead to environmental disaster. Rather than defining passivity in opposition to activism, participants in this conference will explore passivity as linked to givenness, inter-dependence and environmental response-ability, conceived of in relation to the present generation´s need to respond to prior human damage to the earth, natural forces beyond our control, and the anticipated needs of multi-species future.

Ted Toadvine, Arne Johan Vetlesen, Michael Marder and Simone Kotva will give keynote presentations. We welcome proposals for additional presentations of around 20 minutes each.

Please send abstracts of 300-400 words to [email protected] by April 12th.

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August 15, 2023, 5:00pm CET

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