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Securing ourselves from ourselves? The paradox of “entanglement” in the Anthropocene

Hamilton, Scott (2017) Securing ourselves from ourselves? The paradox of “entanglement” in the Anthropocene. Crime, Law and Social Change. ISSN 0925-4994

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s10611-017-9704-4


The Anthropocene presents new challenges to the natural and social sciences by claiming that humanity is “entangled” with a myriad of scales, spaces, being(s), and temporalities. Yet, how does this entanglement alter our understanding of security? This article argues that the Anthropocene threatens not our physical security, but our ontological security: our deep and normalized conceptions of humanity and what it means to be a human “self” in a stable and continuous world. By replacing the foundation of ontological security in modernity – the uncertainty of death – with a new uncertainty of anthropos, the result is an existential discontinuity emanating from our own human selves. The Anthropocene thus manifests the need to secure humanity from humanity, or the paradox of securing oneself from oneself. Recent turns to the concept of “quantum entanglement” attempt to resolve this paradox by re-instilling a certain and secure “entangled” human self within an otherwise uncertain and insecure Anthropocene epoch. The article concludes that this move actually illustrates humanity’s separation, or dis-entanglement, from nature. Ethical and moral responsibilities to mediate and safeguard life and the planet derive not from (quantum) science nor from entanglement, but from a social world within which humans possess the agency to mediate and judge how to act through such concepts.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2017 The Author © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2017 10:35
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 01:42

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