From Anthropocene to Symbiocene: Earth Emotions with Glenn Albrecht

In his ground-breaking book Earth Emotions, Glenn Albrecht provides an account of the relationship between the state of the Earth and our mental and emotional states. He argues that in the epoch known as the Anthropocene, we have threatened both the health of the planet and triggered an avalanche of mental and emotional distress on humans and non-humans. During this lecture, Albrecht proposes to supplant anthropocentric living and thinking by symbiocentric alternatives. These can emerge from positive “psychoterratic” states.

In Earth Emotions, Glenn Albrecht discusses how the Anthropocene—or, the age of attempted human dominance—have resulted in negative psychoterratic states: from solastalgia, via global dread and tierratrauma, to eco-anxiety, eco-grief, and ecoparalysis. In other words, our tragically flawed anthropocentric thinking is leading us to sickness, then extinction. What is needed, Albrecht argues in this lecture, is the very opposite of the “despotism of the Anthropocene”: an actively created symbiotic relationship with the rest of life on this planet.

Such a relationship emerges from positive psychoterratic mental and emotional states, including amongst others soliphilia, eutierria, and endemophilia. According to Albrecht, the combination of positive psychoterratic states and life-affirming science and technology will give point and purpose to those who undertake this transformational work. From a healthy mental and biophysical base, we humans can build the Symbiocene using bioscience and symbioactive technologies that are safe, renewable and non-polluting. As the Anthropocene collapses, the Symbiocene must be built.

About the speakers

Glenn Albrecht is an Australian environmental philosopher mostly known for his work on new “psychoterratic” emotions. He is a Honorary Associate at the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney. His book Earth Emotions was published in 2019 and received international acclaim. This Spring, Uitgeverij Noordboek publishes its first Dutch translation by Joris Capenberghs: Aarde-emoties.

Jetske Brouwer (moderator) is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam. In her dissertation she explores ecofeminist activism and theories of (more-than-human) care. Furthermore, she is curator at SPUI25 and editor at de Nederlandse Boekengids.

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