Journal of Human Rights and the Environment

‘…the sound of a breaking string’: critical environmental law and ontological vulnerability

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos *

Keywords: critical environmental law, critique, Deleuze, immanence, Luhmann, middle, ontological vulnerability, open ecology


This is a radical meditation on the space of ontological vulnerability as the awareness of being existentially exposed. This space, conceptualised as a space of ‘the middle’ (as opposed, emphatically, to ‘the centre’), offers an opportunity to think away from the sterile debate on eco/anthropocentricity and from such limiting hierarchies as animal/human, human/environmental, natural/artificial. This new, vulnerable position of the middle allows the reconfiguration of ecological processes, and more specifically the position of environmental law in relation to them. Environmental law now finds itself amidst a new, moving, ‘open ecology’ of social, biological and ecological processes. This is a new, radical conceptualisation of what the author has called ‘critical environmental law’, based upon an epistemology of observation and an ontology of being part of this open ecology. Environmental law, in this light, is simultaneously reformulated as an invitation to disciplinary and ontological openness and yet a call to remain immanent within existing legal structures. This finds expression in four critical environmental positions that set the stage for the further elaboration of a critical environmental law.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information