WEBINAR: Anthropocene Anthropotechnics: Spiritual Technics and the Technologies of Repair. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion
Impatient to act, we are wary of anything that looks like time-wasting, and an action demanding as much time and patience as attention inevitably slows things down. Yet slowness is not opposed to change; changing human behaviour is slow work, and change in human behaviour is now what is at stake. Simone Kotva, research fellow at the Faculty of Theology at UiO, shares her perspectives.
Technological fixes and climate repair schemes have only a short term impact unless there is significant change in human behaviour. In this sense, climate repair is an ethical question before and certainly simultaneously with it being an atmospheric and geo-physical one; or, to put it in the terms Pierre Hadot once used (while applying them to a planetary crisis he could envisage only dimly), it is a question of “spiritual technologies” as much as – if not more than – of techno-fixes pertaining to carbon capture. Techno-fixing the earth implies fixing techniques of human ways of earth-living, confirming thereby the perils of attempting environmental action without critical thinking engaged at the level of habit and practice. As hazardous as it is to ignore the summons of the present emergency, as hazardous is it to throw out the spiritual technologies that would facilitate the long-term transformation of human behaviour that will address the causes of the crisis at hand. In this talk I offer a critical perspective on the recent return of spiritual exercises in cultural theory and philosophy, drawing out the ecological implications of Peter Sloterdijk's seminal analysis in You Must Change Your Life: On Anthropotechnics (2009/2013). What is the relationship between this return of spiritual exercises and religion, and what is the postsecular future of ecological thought?
About the speaker
Simone Kotva is Research Fellow at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo. She is part of a working group investigating new narratives of anthropology and cosmology as part of the ECODISTURB: Ambivalences of Nordic Nature project funded by UiO:Norden. Simone received her PhD from the University of Cambridge and has taught at Cambridge and Gothenburg. Her first book, Effort and Grace: On the Spiritual Exercise of Philosophy (Bloomsbury, 2020), tackles the importance of Simone Weil’s concept of attention for critical theory and practice today, especially in relation to ecological thinking. Her current work investigates the relationship between spiritual technics and the technologies of repair. In 2020-2021 she convened Magic and Ecology, and is currently working, together with Dr Alice Tarbuck, on a co-authored monograph addressing attention as a spiritual technology for the transformation of earth: Spellwork for a Damaged Planet: Magic and Ecology.