Composing a Cosmic View: Three Alternatives for Thinking Scale in the Anthropocene

Part of the Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies book series (GSLS)


The advent of Anthropocene thinking heralds both an opportunity to rethink the relationship between the human and other scales in the universe, and the danger of re-inscribing an anthropocentric, technocratic form of scalar engagement implicit in Paul Crutzen’s introduction of the Anthropocene concept. Horton proposes to denaturalize this form of universalism by examining three alternative cosmic views: the microcosm–macrocosm of Paracelsus, the serialized cosmos of Walt Whitman, and the resolved or mediated cosmos of Kees Boeke. Each of these alternatives offers its own scalar problematics, ethics, and politics of the human. Taken as a whole, they remind us of the compositional nature of scale and offer forking paths forward toward an Anthropocene of difference rather than of human mastery.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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