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The post-ecologist condition: irony as symptom and cure

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2007
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Journal number2
Volume16
Number of pages19
Pages337-355
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Resources for an authentic response to the ‘post-ecologist condition’ as described by Ingolfur Blühdorn can be found in a cultural modernism which emphasises the contradictory nature of the human condition and whose master trope is irony. The concept of irony can help us both diagnose and respond to the crisis in public meaning which helps sustain unsustainable behaviour. Forms of dispositional irony, in which private and public meaning are disconnected from each other, are symptomatic of the post-ecologist condition; in response, forms of communicative irony are used by environmental movements to expose such dispositions and strategies. However, such tactics can only serve as partial and limited responses to the problem of unsustainability, unless they are embedded within and shaped by a generalised ironic stance towards the world and oneself. The contribution concludes by sketching elements of an environmentalism informed by this ironic ‘world relation’.