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Among Umwelten: Meaning-Making in Critical Posthumanism

Among Umwelten: Meaning-Making in Critical Posthumanism

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Title: Among Umwelten: Meaning-Making in Critical Posthumanism
Author: McCormack, Brian Herbert
Abstract: Conceptualizations of meaning ground formulations of human/nonhuman animal similarity and difference. Anthropocentric accounts of meaning-making are increasingly untenable in light of contemporary knowledge of nonhuman life, yet they remain influential, implicit and intractable even within conceptual frameworks that otherwise reject their explicit premises. This study traces dynamic, process-oriented notions of meaning from Jakob von Uexkll's seminal work through autopoietic, phenomenological, biosemiotic and Deleuzian thought. I critically examine how this lineage counters Cartesian dualist and humanist notions of meaning-making in favour of a view of meaning as dynamic process.
The relationship between organism and environment is characterized by Uexkll as a relationship of meaning. Uexkll envisions life as myriad complex melodic relations that entwine organism and environment in a practice of meaning-making. Uexkll's work and its extensions across a range of disciplines form a rich theoretical foundation for contemporary critical posthumanist efforts to change how human/nonhuman animal difference and similarity is conceptualized. Contemporary critical posthumanism especially the work of Karen Barad, Rosi Braidotti, Elizabeth Grosz and Cary Wolfe works to resituate human meaning-making within a wider ecological context. Yet a cohesive and comprehensive view of meaning grounded in critical posthumanism and its foundational works is fragmented across a broad and complex disciplinary and conceptual terrain. I draw out and develop from this literature the key components for a critical posthumanist concept of meaning.
Subject: Environmental philosophy
Keywords: Critical Posthumanism
Uexküll
Meaning
Animal Studies
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/35848
Supervisor: Berland, Jody
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Program: Humanities
Exam date: 2018-10-18
Publish on: 2019-03-05

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