Precarious Communities: Towards a Phenomenology of Extinction

Part of the Contributions To Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 92)


“Precarious Communities: Towards a Phenomenology of Extinction” begins by criticizing modern ontological models of community as imprecise and dangerous, as they deny animals and other living beings ethical and communal value. The essay criticizes the idea that community is to be based solely around commonality, such as a shared language or physicality. The essay argues that such a model of community is not to be followed because it promotes a widespread “mode of exclusion” of all life that is not human. Instead, the essay proposes an ontological model of “hybrid communities” that is founded on the interdependence of earth’s species. It is argued that human societies have depended on a close relationship with animals and plants since their inception, just as have all other forms of life. The essay posits that animals exist in a phenomenal world that they impart significance to, just as humans do. In turn, the essay proposes the ethical and political value of life is found in the subject’s ability to form relationships and interact with others and its environment, rather than in a “metaphysical superiority.”

Finally, the essay asks that we recognize the inherent instability on which the interdependence of community is founded. The essay urges us to respect the unknowability of nature, cease our interference with its processes and restructure our model of community to reintegrate ourselves into the workings of our world. Failing to do so in the face of the massive extinction we have caused will lead to a double death of our world and ourselves.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laurentian UniversitySudburyCanada

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