Humans are at the centre. But at the centre of what? A new anthropocentrism for the Anthropocene

Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests seminar followed by drinks

Over the last five decades scholars in the social sciences and humanities have mounted a sustained assault on anthropocentrism and the ‘Cartesian’ separation of humans from nature. Yet with the arrival of the Anthropocene these well-meaning attempts to cut humans down to size by distributing agency into networks and non-human nature are beating against an immovable fact: humans have become so powerful that we have shifted the planet’s geological arc. While reminders of our immersion in nature have been necessary, the deflation of agency occurred just at the time humans were accumulating and centralizing more agency in the Earth System than ever before. A new ‘embedded’ anthropocentrism is called for.

Clive Hamilton is Professor of Public Ethics at CAPPE and holds the Vice-Chancellor’s Chair at Charles Sturt University. He was the Founder and for 14 years the Executive Director of The Australia Institute, a public interest think tank. He is well known in Australia as a public intellectual and for his contributions to public policy debate. He has held visiting academic positions at the University of Cambridge, Yale University and the University of Oxford, and is the author of a number of influential books, including Growth Fetish and Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change. He is now writing a book on The Philosophical implications of the Anthropocene.