September 4, 2023

CRITIQUE-PTRG Lecture – Philosophising in a Burning World – 1 November 2023, 3pm

CRITIQUE-PTRG Lecture w Professor Danielle Celermajer (Sydney University)

In a 1964 interview, Hannah Arendt reflected on the moment she turned from being a ‘philosopher’ to being ‘political’ and feeling responsible: bearing witness to the burning of the Reichstag in 1933 and people being “taken to Gestapo cellars or to concentration camps”. In 2023, we are all witnessing the burning of our planet and the mass murder of billions of living beings. It is now broadly accepted that Arendt’s story exemplifies the social and political situatedness of the work of theorising. In this talk, Celermajer argues that the way we theorise concepts is also ecologically situated. Specifically, the Holocene enabled or conditioned patterns of theorising that are completely inadequate for the Anthropocene and its attendant ecological catastrophes. Using the example of conceptualisations of responsibility, she argues that the conception ethically commanded by the unfolding world is one founded on an acknowledgement of humans’ collective entanglement in, dependence on, and belonging to the more-than-human world. This paper tracks a double contestation of responsibility: first over the conceptualisation of responsibility itself, and second over scholars’ responsibilities with respect to imagining and conceptualising responsibility.

Location: Appleton Tower room 2.12