Sam Mickey, Kim Carfore, and Adam Robbert – “Cosmopolitics: Meaning and Justice for All”

Friday, September 19th @ 6:30pm in room 308

The twentieth century saw the widespread emergence of an evolutionary and ecological worldview, wherein humans are understood as members of the community of life on Earth and as participants in the 13.8-billion-year unfolding of the cosmos.  There are numerous and diverse ways of articulating this evolutionary-ecological worldview, including approaches that go by names such as the epic of evolution, the universe story, big history, and cosmopolitics.  Those approaches facilitate the integration of human and natural history into a multidimensional collective history, a history that challenges what Alfred North Whitehead calls the “bifurcation of nature,” which separates the universe into two opposing realms, a human realm populated by values, ideas, and meaning and a natural realm populated by facts, bodies, and matter.

In this panel presentation, Sam, Kim, and Adam explore multiple possibilities for overcoming the bifurcation of nature, focusing specifically on 1) the Journey of the Universe project, which furthers the approach that Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry present in the universe story, and 2) the philosophical school of “cosmopolitics,” which is associated with contemporary philosophers like Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, and others who aim to overcome the separation between the natural world (kosmos) and the constitution of human civilization (politikos).  This panel introduces two concepts related to cosmopolitical thinking, 1) a concept of justice, which draws on an ecological deconstruction implicit in the works of Jacques Derrida, and 2) a concept of the meaning of lived experience, which draws on Whitehead and the philosophical biology of Jakob von Uexküll.  By situating Journey of the Universe in relationship to cosmopolitics, this panel emphasizes the importance of accounting for the spiritual, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions of our collective history.