Professor Brett Buchanan (Laurentian University, Canada) – Ethological Extinctions

Co-presented by Philosophy & the School of Life Sciences University of Dundee

Wednesday 22 May 2019 3pm in the Sir Kenneth and Lady Noreen Murray Seminar Room, CTIR

Day by day, month by month, we are losing species at rates not previously observed by humans, leading a near unanimous chorus of scientists to claim we are in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction. Attention is rightly paid to the immense loss of plant and animal lives, but what I wish to think through, in a complimentary and parallel manner, is how we are losing unique ways of being in and expressing a world differently. Particular songs, flight paths, migratory routes, mating dances, hibernating patterns, and other modes of being are disappearing, and with them distinct modes of temporality, behavioural expressivity, and embodied connectivity. Individuals of different species express the world in unique and irreplaceable ways, with distinct ethological footprints and signatures. This is a different sense of biodiversity loss than commonly noted: one that measures not the richness and variety of organisms in ecological systems, but an ontological notion of ethological diversity. Drawing from recent studies in environmental humanities and continental philosophy, my interest is therefore on how anthropogenic extinctions erase the diversity of heterogeneous behaviours and affective worlds, and so too, transform our understandings of time, death, and what it means to care for disappearing worlds.

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