[artinfo] Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene: available open access

Joanna Zylinska jo.zylinska at gmail.com
Tue Oct 7 11:50:41 CEST 2014

Dear All,

I just wanted to let you know that my new book, Minimal Ethics for 
the Anthropocene, has been published by Open Humanities Press. 
Adopting a philosophy-meets-art-meets-cultural studies approach, it 
contains a modest ethical proposal for the (whole) universe which is 
faced with the prospect of climate change, total destruction and the 
extinction of life as we know it. It also contains an image-based 
project as an alternative visual track to the argument presented. I'm 
pasting the official blurb below.

The online and pdf versions of the book are available for free:





by Joanna Zylinska

Open Humanities Press, 2014

An imprint of Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library: Ann Arbor

Series: Critical Climate Change edited by Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook

E-version freely available on an open access basis:


Also available in paperback

Life typically becomes an object of reflection when it is seen to be 
under threat. In particular, humans have a tendency to engage in 
thinking about life (instead of just continuing to live it) when 
being confronted with the prospect of death: be it the death of 
individuals due to illness, accident or old age; the death of whole 
ethnic or national groups in wars and other forms of armed conflict; 
but also of whole populations, be they human or nonhuman. Even though 
Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene is first and foremost concerned 
with life-understood as both a biological and social phenomenon-it is 
the narrative about the impending death of the human population 
(i.e., about the extinction of the human species), that provides a 
context for its argument. "Anthropocene" names a geo-historical 
period in which humans are said to have become the biggest threat to 
life on earth. However, rather than as a scientific descriptor, the 
term serves here primarily as an ethical injunction to think 
critically about human and nonhuman agency in the universe.

Restrained in tone yet ambitious in scope, the book takes some steps 
towards outlining a minimal ethics thought on a universal scale. The 
task of such minimal ethics is to consider how humans can assume 
responsibility for various occurrences in the universe, across 
different scales, and how they can respond to the tangled mesh of 
connections and relations unfolding in it. Its goal is not so much to 
tell us how to live but rather to allow us to rethink "life" and what 
we can do with it, in whatever time we have left. The book embraces a 
speculative mode of thinking that is more akin to the artist's 
method; it also includes a photographic project by the author.

A spirited, eloquent, original, and interdisciplinary manifesto for 
ethics, which takes seriously, on the one hand, a non-anthropocentric 
perspective and the challenge to human exceptionalism; and, on the 
other hand, the possibility of the extinction of life in the 
Anthropocene epoch. The book presents a serious meditation on the 
meaning of the old ethical preoccupation - "how to live a good life?" 
- in an age when life itself is threatened with extinction. (Ewa 
Ziarek - Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature, University 
at Buffalo)


Joanna Zylinska is Professor of New Media and Communications at 
Goldsmiths, University of London. The author of several books-most 
recently, Life after New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process (with 
Sarah Kember; MIT Press, 2012) and Bioethics in the Age of New Media 
(MIT Press, 2009)-she is also a translator of Stanislaw Lem's major 
philosophical treatise, Summa Technologiae (University of Minnesota 
Press, 2013). Together with Clare Birchall, Gary Hall and Open 
Humanities Press, she runs the JISC-funded project Living Books about 
Life, which publishes open access books at the crossroads of the 
humanities and the sciences. Zylinska is one of the Editors of 
Culture Machine, an international open-access journal of culture and 
theory, and a curator of its sister project, Photomediations Machine. 
She combines her philosophical writings and curatorial work with 
photographic art practice.

Professor Joanna Zylinska
Department of Media and Communications
Goldsmiths, University of London


Curator of Photomediations Machine


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