ABSTRACT

In the ‘human’ world of liberal modernity, we believed that we could transform our external world, through our own creativity and agency: understanding the laws of the external world and mastering them through the development of culture, science, and technology. In the ‘post-human’ world of complexity and resilience-thinking, we are told by new materialists, actor network theorists and post-humanists that creativity and agency still exist, but that they are not the property of humans alone, but rather a product of our embedded relations – the complex life of assemblages, associations and relationships – through which we are attached to the world. Rather than attempting to understand and act in the world on the basis of our separation from it – articulated in the constraining, alienating and resentment-filled modernist divides of human/nature, subject/object, culture/environment – we should become more aware of our embedded ‘attachment’ to the world. It is in developing these attachments that we can govern ourselves as self-reflexive, and thereby responsive and resilient, subjects. This chapter critically examines these claims and suggests that, on the contrary, we become less ‘attached’ and that the external word becomes increasingly alien and mysterious to us. In doing so, it mounts a defence of subject/object understandings and social constructions of a divide between humanity and the world external to us.