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‘…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.

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