Civilized culture is killing the planet. At present, we are facing the largest extinction event in 65 million years and the cause, according to most scholars, is "patently" human. My question, however, is not whether the mass destruction of the biosphere is the result of an unfortunate and misguided particularity within civilization (e.g., over consumption, driving too much, etc.), but rather: Is it the case that civilization, by its very nature, entails the destruction of the natural world and of both human and non-human communities? In the vein of a fairly recent movement in scholarship, my answer is a resounding "yes." Taking a cue from one of the foremost voices of this recent movement, Derrick Jensen, I'll briefly trace the genesis and justification of the following premise: "Civilization is not and can never be sustainable," as well as the philosophical fallout of what this may mean for us today. Employing the thought and method of certain strands of phenomenology, I first examine how it is that civilization appears in our collective everydayness and how certain movements within this appearance give way to its replication, continuation, and (largely) unquestioned legitimacy. From there, I move to incorporate the insight of Theodor Adorno and other critical theorists, uncovering the finer ideological strands that tie us to civilization. From the arguments outlined by Jensen, John Zerzan, and others, I make a case for the active rejection and dismantling of civilization, ultimately attempting to articulate a philosophically based strategy of resistance.
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Brinson, J. C., "A critical phenomenology of civilization" (2011). HIM 1990-2015. 1757.