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  1. Paradigms, Poetics, and Politics of Conversion
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  3. Paradigms, Poetics and Politics of Conversion
  4. The Enlivenment Manifesto: Politics and Poetics in the Anthropocene - Shareable

The "truth of nature" as opposed to the "untruth" of the totalitarian system of a reality colonized by a dualist view Horkheimer and Adorno had analyzed so deeply lies in nature's creative openness that constantly gives life, rather than in the romantic sense of nature being "wholesome" or "healing. To preserve the biosphere, we need to focus our actions on the image of a living reality.

Paradigms, Poetics, and Politics of Conversion

We need to conceive a new "bios. Traits of this threatened but necessary aliveness are openness, diversity, potentiality, the exchange of gifts, transformation, and the existential paradox of isolation and unity. Experiencing the world as alive helps us to rethink our relationships to other humans, to other beings, and to matter.

We can stop fashioning these connections into a means of exploiting resources. We will only decently survive the Anthropocene by realizing that humans not only pervade nature but consist of something not consciously made by man: a self-organizing aliveness profoundly enmeshed with ecosystems in terms of metabolism and metaphor. The creative power inherent in reality cannot be turned off. To misjudge or disregard it, as we have done and continue to do, is dangerous and ultimately destructive for life.

Ignoring reality always will generate violent encounters with it. Therefore the most important task in the Anthropocene is to rethink and regenerate aliveness. A future for humankind based on ecological and social justice is only possible if we emphatically renew our specifically human manifestation of what constitutes embodied existence: the middle ground where aliveness and creativity seek to experience themselves. We can call these qualities "soul," "heart," the "spiritual nature of man" Erich Fromm , 17 or the irreducible and indefatigable "wild" Gary Snyder. Such an understanding of humanness-as-aliveness relies on the possibility of finding a specifically human interpretation of aliveness.

We can therefore never be entirely reconciled with living reality. Any such belief, which claims to have found a shortcut to the exhausting negotiations, pitfalls, and creative improvisations of being subject-in-relation, implies a new utopian version of control. We, however, do not need another impossible Utopia but must acknowledge our creative fragility. Only through this are we coupled to an infinite capability for living imagination and always open to healing.

Tree fort archaeology: The childhood culture of building shelters and makeshift houses has nearly died out within only one generation. We can see the attitude needed already in practice in the economy of the commons proposed by Silke Helfrich, 23 David Bollier, 24 and Nobel-Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom; 25 in the "dia-logics" of philosopher Edgar Morin; 26 in Lewis Hyde's "circle of the gift"; 27 in the poetic biophilosophy of the "Biogea" vision developed by Michel Serres; 28 and in the enlarged understanding of art in the wake of Joseph Beuys, who proposed artistic expression starts with acknowledging and liberating one's own aliveness.

As the crickets' soft autumn hum is to us so are we to the trees as are they to the rocks and the hills.

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The scientific community has a crucial task of re-shaping the relationship between humankind and the remainder of creation. Climate change has demonstrated how scientific methods are indispensable in the search for new ecological standards, and these methods have always shown our interrelatedness with nature, even when we believed otherwise. Meanwhile, throwing more and better scientific techniques to resolve all open questions has proven futile.

What we can "know" has structural restrictions — reality is not a closed system. We are giving up the idea of a biology that follows linear and objective laws, like in Newtonian physics. In biology, as analogous to quantum physics, the researcher is entangled with his research subject, although this entanglement is not quantum but experiential.

Both are alive and connected in an emotional relationship. If reality cannot be objectified, a value-free and neutral science is not possible. Our conception of the world determines how we treat it and how it changes. Accordingly, any position that assumes an objective, timeless, and value-free description of reality or a part of it is a violent self-authorization.

Any seemingly neutral and presumably objective attitude cements invisible structures of power. Knowledge is not objective when produced in this manner; it is valid predominantly in the sense that it stabilizes the system from which it arose. Any knowledge is already an implementation of certain standards of treating the world and each another.

The task of living together on this planet therefore requires being attentive not only towards theory, but also toward scientific practice. When does science only produce results to satisfy the inner demands of a knowledge industry? When does it legitimize political, economic, or technological interests? We need to carefully scrutinize all reifications of scientific thinking and refrain from them in order to help science become more an authority that serves the unfolding of aliveness and helps humankind develop a self-understanding as selfhood-in-connection.

Eddies in the stream of time: A Japanese cherry tree tripped over into a mountain stream in the Sikkimese hills continues to blossom amidst white water swirling over boulders and rocks. In the Anthropocene, any form of science must consciously incorporate its particular values and interests, as well as explicitly naming them. It must reflect on its inevitable entanglement and creatively work upon it. Instead of producing merely functional knowledge, science should also focus on meaningful orientation, thereby carefully observing the world not from the perspective of a cybernetic system, but also as a meshwork of relationships with the power to bring forth aliveness.

Through this, a culture of meaningful connection between humans and the remainder of creation can arise. It can be conceived as an art of embodied consciousness, as an ecological "Art of Living. For what else have stones been shaped but to prolong the human presence and to say soundlessly in lost tongues: We loved the earth but could not stay?

In the Anthropocene, sustainability can only be meaningfully reconceived through the perspective of "Enlivenment. It is a vision of civilization going beyond day-to-day crisis management and the "flight mentality" of current politics. Let us call this vision a "policy of life. Such an ethos cannot be achieved in the short term.

It requires a commitment comparable to the struggle for universal human rights which unfolded in the centuries since the original Enlightenment idea had gained traction. This time it needs to be a strife to create a solidarity-in-being among all living subjects. The political agenda of the Enlightenment was intended to elevate humankind from its incapacitation by granting it rational agency.

A policy of life Enlivenment enlarges this struggle to a more comprehensive goal: liberating the feeling and creative human from the colonization by an ideology of dead matter, granting it the right not only to rational, but also to embodied agency, and to meaningful experience. A policy of life preserves the necessary Enlightenment values — such as individual dignity, justice, and equality — while reconnecting them with their roots that rest in the co-creativity of everything alive. It does not substitute rationality with life but regards it as the quest to unfold a culture that is aware of, and responsible for, the potential imaginative aliveness in all living things.

A policy of life searches for alternatives to the dogma of growth and addiction to consumerism. It does not seek technological control but pursues the creative negotiation between equal participants in an ecosystem which all need to preserve. It strives to promote the experience of aliveness.

It creates economic productivity through ecological stability and meaningful actions. The shy torrents of spring: Late winter slowly thaws away on a track through the forest of the White Memorial Foundation near Torrington, Connecticut. Photo: Emma Weber. A policy of life makes explicit what implicitly keeps us alive while actively nourishing it. It is pluralistic, dialogical, and mediating. It understands reality as a commons in which all beings co-creatively partake.

It assumes responsibility for reality and supports us on the way to ourselves, acknowledging that this way is never achieved and can only be laid down by walking. Only when our new loyalty with everything alive becomes our cultural desire, the Anthropocene will truly merit the name of the "time of humankind. Heartfelt thanks to Carsten Jasner, Myriam Kentrup, and Gerburg Rohde-Dahl for valuable in-depth discussions and helpful suggestions to improve previous versions of the text. Many thanks also to Celeste Ceguerra who did her usual eloquent native-language copy-editing.

We are grateful for valuable suggestions by the reviewers. Our mono-cultural worldview is literally preventing us from understanding the deeper causes of our multiple crises. Author Andreas Weber gives us a glimpse of the different scientific paradigm now coming. Author Andreas Weber gives us a glimpse of the different scientific paradigm now coming into focus.

Weber sees Enlivenment as an upgrade of the deficient categories of Enlightenment thought — a way to move beyond our modern metaphysics of dead matter and acknowledge the deeply creative processes embodied in all living organisms. The framework of Enlivenment that Weber outlines is a promising beginning for all those who stand ready to search for real solutions to the challenges of our future.

Paradigms, Poetics and Politics of Conversion

Skip to content People-powered solutions for the common good. Toggle navigation People-powered solutions for the common good. Andreas Weber January 6, March 4, Key Concepts The current ideology of dead matter, mechanical causality, and the exclusion of experience from descriptions of reality in ecology and economy are responsible for our failure to protect aliveness in our world.

The challenge of the "Anthropocene" and the end of dualistic enlightenment-style thinking is to install a new "bios" into our concept of reality, putting aliveness, the world as a living process of mutual transforming relationships, subjectivity, and expression, at its center: an "Enlivenment" view. The scope of the "Enlivenment" perspective equals the shift in modern physics realizing that any observer is entangled with the system being observed.


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Biological entanglement happens emotionally and experientially through sharing aliveness with and relating existentially to other living subjects. Findings in the life sciences, particularly in biosemiotics, cognition research, and developmental biology, show that it is necessary to view organisms as goal-directed agents, who bring meaning and experience into the world as physically relevant powers. We need a "policy of life" as a new political-philosophical attitude to make "deep sustainability" possible. It will supplant the idea of reality as iteration of "empirical facts" by an "empirical subjectivity" of shared aliveness and a "poetic objectivity" of describing and practicing relatedness and mutual transformation.

Dualism Has Ended You do not have to be good. An Old Fallacy with a New Fascination And when two people have loved each other see how it is like a scar between their bodies, stronger, darker, and proud; how the black cord makes of them a single fabric that nothing can tear or mend. What Humankind Can Be may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know and if men should not hear them men are old From E. Cummings A future for humankind based on ecological and social justice is only possible if we emphatically renew our specifically human manifestation of what constitutes embodied existence: the middle ground where aliveness and creativity seek to experience themselves.

An economy that does not support the "use" of resources in a "market" built on "objectivity" and separation but enlarges the possibilities to participate in a shared planetary metabolism of commons economy and is guided by an understanding of economic exchange as the shared household of the biosphere. A culture that no longer functions according to the income-generating model of private economics but participates in a co-creative process of production. A biology that understands organisms not only as ecosystem-service providers and molecular toolboxes but also as creative subjects, and which sees humans as a metabolic part of a biosphere enmeshed with life and feeling.

An education that teaches an Art of Living and Connection; that does not follow only a standard of abstract knowledge, functionalistic technology, and "dead world" thought; that reduces valuations and judgements. A policy that understands regional administrative entities as self-organizing commons and does not follow rules of universal abstraction and selfish market interests.

References Crutzen, P. The 'Anthropocene'. Global Change Newsletter 41, 17—18 Sepahvand, A. Rosol, and K. Textures of the Anthropocene eds Sepahvand, A. Rosol, K. Klingan, and B. Kolbert, E. The Sixth Extinction. Marris, E. Rambunctious Garden. Horkheimer, M.

Dialectic of Enlightenment Verso, New York, Shellenberger, M. Nordhaus eds. Love Your Monsters. Ferrando, F. Differences and relations. Existenz 8, 26—32 Crist, E. On the poverty of our nomenclature. Environmental Humanities 3, — Weber, A. Although they are rarely treated as a cultural phenomenon, conversions can obviously be examined for the norms, values and presuppositions of the cultures in which they take place. Thus conversion can help us to shed light on a particular culture. At the same time, the term evokes a dramatic appeal that suggests a kind of suddenness, although in most cases conversion implies a more gradual process of establishing and defining a new - religious - identity.

From May , the University of Groningen hosted an international conference on 'Cultures of Conversion'. The contributions have been edited in two volumes, which pay special attention to the modes of language and idiom in conversion literature, the meaning and sense of religious-ideological discourse, the variety of rhetorical tropes, and the effects of the conversion narrative with allusions to religious or political conventions and idealizations. The present volume contains theoretical contributions on the theory of conversion, with special attention to the rational choice theory, and on the history of research into conversion.

It also offers stimulating case studies, ranging from the late Middle Ages to present times and taken from Germany, Great Britain and The Netherlands.

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The other volume, "Cultures of Conversion", offers in-depth studies of conversion that are mainly taken from the history of India, Islam and Judaism, ranging from the Byzantine period to the new Muslimas of the West. Product details Format Hardback pages Dimensions Other books in this series. In Control of the City Christianne Smit. Add to basket. Understanding Art in Antwerp Bart Ramakers. The Metamorphosis of Magic Jan N.

The Enlivenment Manifesto: Politics and Poetics in the Anthropocene - Shareable

Aesthetic Autonomy B. Form and Style in Journalism M. Vision in Text and Image H. Invisible Hands? Utopianism and the Sciences, M. Cultural Repertoires H. Antiquity Renewed Zweder R. Visualizing Utopia Mary Kemperink. At the Crossroads of Art and Religion T. Authorship Revisited Gillis J.

The Need for a Paradigm Shift in Politics

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