A new article in the journal Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism.

Abstract. Several socio-economic and technological conditions shaped the faces of modernity, but with-out massive energy surplus modernity as we know it would not be possible at all. Fossil fuels are not created by humans. Consequently, part of the credit for modernity that is assigned to the other (human) conditions, belongs to (non-human) fossil fuels. The misplaced assignment of credit also points to modernity’s characteristic blindness to its material conditions. By and large, modernity has been described as a human victory over nature. This is supremely ironic, as the supposed human independence relies on a particular natural phenomenon. Unfortu-nately, this forgetfulness extends into ethics. Typical modern views on ethics rely on a subject with an autonomous capacity to act and deliberate. There is a structural parallel between the way in which the modern subject detaches itself from its material and social surroundings and the way in which a fossil fuel economy detaches production from consumption, products from waste, actions from consequences. If ethics is blind to the way in which the detachment is dependent on a particular energy regime, it is unlikely to result in a robust de-fossilization. In this article, we argue that the notions of modernity and (modern) subjectivication are made possible by non-human energy, namely fossil fuels. Thus, energy ethics for the post-fossil era will be ultimately based on a-subjective and non-modern premises.

Keywords: fossil fuels; oil; subject; nafthology; nafthism; ethics; modernity; work; energy; capitalism

Ethics, Nafthism, and the Fossil subject by tereensio1592 on Scribd

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by Antti Salminen & Tere Vadén

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If there is reason to believe that material circumstances such as the ownership of the means of production, geography, or levels of technological development shape society, culture, and experience, then there is reason to believe that the continually increasing input of energy in the form of fossil fuels has had a similar, if not greater, impact on human history. Antti Salminen and Tere Vadén’s Energy and Experience: An Essay in Nafthology is the first book of philosophy to directly address the theoretical and conceptual configurations of our oil modernity. Long-imagined as the outcome of human intellectual growth and maturity, without surplus energy — the non-renewable, non-human energy of coal, oil and gas — modernity would be completely other than it has come it be. Salminen and Vadén argue that modernity constitutes a historical state of exception — one that cannot be sustained. Energy and Experience unearths the blind spot that energy has occupied in the social thought of a modernity that has too long been self-deluded by its own intellectual capacities to render human beings independent from nature.
Advance praise for Energy and Experience:

Energy and Experience sounds the oily depths of our present human condition. Working the rich reservoirs tapped by thinkers like Mitchell and Negarestani, Salminen and Vadén brilliantly explore how fossil fuels have intoxicated human imagination and warped human knowledge, how they have accelerated time and constituted illusions of distance and separateness not just in popular or political culture but in philosophy as well. Energy and Experience is a nafthological diagnostic manual, a fieldguide to the black sun; it is also a call for rebellion.”

—Dominic Boyer, Director, Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences

“Has God been replaced by oil? Salminen and Vadén argue, yes, in a rousing and provocative manifesto on energy criticism that rereads western oil culture through the philosophies of Marx, Heidegger, Junger, and Bataille. A witty and theoretically challenging book, Energy and Experience examines what it might mean for us to plumb the energetic depths of modern being and knowing while training our eyes on those parts of contemporary culture — those enduring resistances, frictions, and multiplicities — that can provide us with alternatives and focal points to move us beyond the totalizing effects of a culture of global capitalism that rises on and is quite literally fueled by petroleum.”

—Bob Johnson, Associate Professor of History (National University)

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