ABSTRACT

Life on Earth is going through an unprecedented crisis, often referred to as the sixth mass extinction. Human activities affect virtually all taxa and biomes of the planet. Parallel and somehow independent of the ecological crisis, the concept of nature has drawn harsh criticism over the past thirty years. The dichotomy between culture and nature, humans and non-humans, traditionally lies at the heart of Western culture. Based on a thorough anthropological study of diverse cultures around the world, Philippe Descola shows how the idea of a nature external to and separated from human beings is historically and culturally constructed, specific to Euro-American modernity, which is characterised by what Descola calls a 'naturalist epistemology'. By contrast, the naturalisation of culture is essentially due to more or less fruitful human sociobiological reductions. The Anthropocene tells the global story of Earth as if observed from the sky, hardly a view to motivate local political action.