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EVS Colloquium | Aseem Shrivastava

The Alphabet of Ecosophy: Rethinking Modernity

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Abstract: The two prevailing frameworks in which the ecological crisis of the earth is understood are environmentalism and ecology. Environmentalism has proved limited, often self-defeating, because of its commitment to a technocratic approach. Ecology is indequate because its approach is dominated by science, even when supplemented by the environmental humanities. Neither perspective questions the reigning cosmology of modernity which is at the cognitive and existential root of the precipitous crisis. On the contrary, their problems arise precisely from the fact that they take it for granted. Ecosophy, defined loosely by the Catalan-Keralite philosopher-theologian Raimon Panikkar, as "the wisdom of the earth" does offer a critical perspective on the cosmology of modernity. His incisive critique of modernity will be discussed. My talk will then introduce some of the basic concepts that Ecosophy explores and builds upon: transnature, species solipsism, homo abstractus, earth alienation, and arrhythmia. In passing, the related spiritual vision of Rabindranath Tagore will also be referred to. 

Bio: Aseem Shrivastava is a writer, teacher and ecological thinker with a doctorate in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He currently teaches two courses on Global and Indian Ecosophy at Ashoka University. Aseem has taught at universities in India and the US. He also taught philosophy at Nordic College, Norway (2001-05). He now works independently, researching, writing and lecturing nationally and internationally on issues associated with globalization and its multiple ecological and other impacts. He is the author (with Ashish Kothari) of the books Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India (Penguin Viking, New Delhi, 2012), and Prithvi Manthan (Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 2016) which offer critiques of, and alternatives to, India’s development strategy since 1947. Besides mentoring and guiding many students, Aseem writes regularly for publications like The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Economic and Political Weekly, Seminar, Himal, Caravan, and Open magazine.


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