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A Rupture Between Human Beings and Earth: A Philosophical Critical Approach to Coviability

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Abstract

This chapter tackles the paradigm of coviability with the philosophical tools of critical theory. Some of the main features of this paradigm, i.e. systematic description of the social and natural sets, opposition of social determinations to the natural ones and attempt to overcome this opposition by the notion of ‘life’, enter directly in consonance with the tradition of thought whose political purpose is to denounce the deep contradictions – and therefore the non- viability – of our social system. The ‘coviability’ of the social ‘system’ with natural ‘systems’ was an early concern for Marx. His assessment is severe: he claims that capitalism has irreparably broken the ‘metabolic interaction’ between human beings and Earth in the modern era. Through the archetypal example of the dual destruction of peasant societies and natural soil fertility developed by Marx, this first concerns exposing the rupture caused by the dynamics of modernity with the historical conditions of coviability in the West. Afterward, this thinking will be put into perspective with the recent research in the anthropology of Nature, revealing a subtle paradox: even the methodical principle of an opposition of ‘social systems’ and ‘natural systems’ indeed reactivates the anthropological framework of capitalism itself. Philippe Descola showed that the opposition of nature and society made sense only within an ontological regime described as “naturalist”. Relying on this opposition, the paradigm of the “coviability” could thus risk renewing the obstructions it sought to overcome. The critical philosophical approach we outline here identifies the pitfalls and difficulties that must be avoided so that this coviability has a chance for an effective beginning.

Keywords

Critical theory Naturalism Capitalism Anthropology of nature Peasant usages Soil fertility Karl Marx Philippe Descola 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRS, Faculty of Law and Political ScienceUMR 5815, Dynamiques du droit, MontpellierMontpellier cedex 2France

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