Accepted paper:

Green futures between respecting and transgressing boundaries


Georg Jochum (Technical University of Munich)

Paper short abstract:

The presentation discusses to what extent current visions of sustainable, green futures turn away from the Baconian project of the "enlarging of the bounds of human empire" by technical mastery of nature, or continue this project and radicalize it.

Paper long abstract:

The spiritual ancestor of the modern industrial society is Francis Bacon. With the maxim "plus ultra" (further beyond), he announced an "enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire" through the technical mastery of nature. Today, in the face of ecological "planetary boundaries" (Rockström), the limits of the Bacon Project become apparent and a transformation to a sustainable society is called for. The aim of the presentation is to juxtapose two radically opposed visions of green futures and to compare them on the basis of Bruno Latour's considerations in "Facing Gaia". On the one hand, concepts of sustainability will be analyzed, which are in continuity with the technoscientific project of Modernity. In particular technocentric future visions inspired by posthuman and postbiological utopias, which are particularly influential in Silicon Valley, are examined. These deny the idea of natural boundaries and radicalize the Baconian program of nature control. On the other hand, ecocentric visions of the future are analyzed, which are associated with the indigenous concept of "buen vivir" and are in particular discussed in Latin America. As argued in the presentation, these concepts are more in line with the transition from the plus-ultra-modernity to the age of "Earthbound (which) have to explore the question of their limits (…) because their maxim is 'Plus intra'" (Latour). The project of the infinite expansion of the bounds of the human empire is abandoned.

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