What is the Anthropocene? – Reflections on Temporality

The purpose of this short essay is to introduce distinctions – distinctions which help us approach and diversify the problematic captured by the concept of the ‘Anthropocene.’ All this serves to establish the importance of temporality for understanding what is at stake, finally, in any scientific-political program conditioned by the Anthropocene thesis. The distinctions in question are a) between the Anthropocene as a scientific thesis and a cultural movement; b) between the environmental movement and the Anthropocene thesis more specifically, and c) between various forms of human temporality.

As is well known, the term ‘Anthropocene’ serves to propose a new, distinctly anthropogenic, epoch in geochronology, a subdiscipline of geology which, among others, backdates the age of rock formations, and aims to provide a macroscopic picture of the natural history of planet Earth. In its most neutral form, ‘the Anthropocene’ is the proposed name for a new geological epoch in which human industriousness leave an objective mark on planet Earth as a whole. Continue reading

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