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Insensible worlds: postrelational ethics, indeterminacy and the (k)nots of relating

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2013
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Journal number2
Volume31
Number of pages19
Pages208-226
Early online date20/02/13
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Within the context of biodiversity loss, this paper asks the question: What is response? In asking how responsibility is raised as a sensible question, I argue there is a need to address the insensible, immaterial, and untimely, dimensions of matter and relations. I suggest that thinking along the cusp of the insensible offers a way into an expanded realm of relationality that queries the exclusions that govern the sphere of intelligibility, and help us think between natures to promote a noncontemporaneous ethics of apprehension. Taking up Jean-Luc Nancy’s concept of sense and specifically his ideas around the direction of sense, the insensible is argued as a realm of possibility within the praxis of social and affective norms of sense that may release other modes of being into being. In this sense, this is a paper about sense as matter forming, as cohabitation, and as an exclusionary tactic that bears upon the cohabitation of worlds. I argue that an understanding of how sense is enrolled into our habits of thought and theories of materialities is crucial if we are to create new practices of sensations and new sensibilities around such diffuse, recalcitrant and dislocated issues as biodiversity loss, new forms of biotechnological life and climate change. I conclude that if the insensible alerts us to the work of sense in securing the bringing into relation, its configurations, and it a priori orientations, then it also points towards modes of exclusion and forms of resistance in our thinking with nonhuman others that are before and beyond relationality.

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