Anthropocene: The Era of Humankind

Edited by

Hagai Boas, Ofri Ilany

Publisher Van Leer Institute Press & Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Language Hebrew
Year of Publication 2023

The literal meaning of “Anthropocene” is “the epoch of humankind.” The term refers to the human impact on nature, which creates a distinction between the epoch of humankind and previous geological periods. The Anthropocene represents a profound crisis. Humankind has never before experienced such a broad and deep change in the living environment. In that sense, life on Earth today is an experiment being performed on the planet and all its inhabitants. Will the planet’s inhabitants, including humans, manage to survive in the hostile living environment of the Anthropocene?

In response to the sense of shock over the ongoing destruction of the planet, Anthropocenic thought in the social sciences and the humanities seeks to highlight a fundamental change in many of the familiar assumptions regarding the relationship between the human and the natural. These assumptions arose in the previous geological age, the Holocene, in which all of known human history took place. In contrast to Holocenic thought, in which air, land, and water were given factors in the background of human activity, Anthropocenic thought arises from the bursting of these factors into the heart of history. It is no longer possible to describe history merely as a struggle between ideologies or social forms; Earth is becoming a factor playing a key, even crucial, role, and humankind itself is becoming a force of nature.

The reader, titled Anthropocene: The Era of Humankind, offers fundamental texts by philosophers—leading scholars of the Anthropocene throughout the world—including Bruno Latour, Elizabeth Kolbert, Timothy Morton, and Elizabeth Povinelli. The articles address key themes in Anthropocenic thought, including “The Sixth Extinction,” “The Great Acceleration,” concepts of time and nature, hyperobjects, and apocalyptic views of the climate crisis.


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