Edited by Jordi Jaria-Manzano and Susana Borrás
Chapter 2: The Anthropocene challenge to our worldview
The emergent worldview of the Anthropocene is reorganizing our way of drawing boundaries between the natural and the social. Never has it been so apparent that the economic models and doctrines that guide our politicians cannot be cultivated in isolation from natural science. The Anthropocene prompts us to rethink the modern concept of ‘technology’, which tends to raise expectations of a magical human ingenuity that promises to liberate us from all kinds of limitations, but which involves a less obvious, distributive dimension that is essentially social. This chapter discusses some societal, philosophical and existential implications of Earth System science and the notion of the Anthropocene. It argues that the many commentators on our global predicament fail to seriously consider the idea of general-purpose money, which is arguably the ultimate root of the Anthropocene predicament. This predicament will ultimately force us to acknowledge – contrary to a conventional modern worldview – the natural, physical aspects of what we know as economic growth, as well as the social, distributive aspects of what we know as technological progress. Such a shift of perspective requires that we recognize the aggregate capacity of monetary flows to physically reorganize the Earth System, not least through the accumulation of fossil fuel technologies. Most fundamentally, we shall have to acknowledge that the quintessential artefact of modernity – the meme of general-purpose money – embodies an intrinsic logic that inexorably generates widening global gaps and environmental destruction.
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