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The end of the end of nature: the Anthropocene and the fate of the human

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date12/2012
JournalOxford Literary Review
Number of pages20
Original languageEnglish


In this paper I explore the metaphor of the strata of the earth as ‘great stone book of nature’, and the Anthropocene epoch as its latest chapter. I suggest that the task of marking the base of the Anthropocene’s geological layer is entangled with questions about the human — about who would be the ‘onomatophore’ of the Anthropocene, would carry the name of ‘Anthropos’. I consider divergent ways of characterising the geological force of the Anthropocene — as Homo faber, Homo consumens and Homo gubernans — and situate this dispersal of the Anthropos within a more general dispersal of ‘man’ that occurs when human meets geology. I suggest that the becoming geological of the human in the Anthropocene is both the end of the great stone book of nature and the Aufhebung of ‘man’ — both his apotheosis and his eclipse.