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Photosynethics: a groundwork for being with the light

Hill, David ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3849-1170 (2023) Photosynethics: a groundwork for being with the light. Journal for Cultural Research, 28 (1). pp. 1-13.

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It has been suggested that we turn to solar geoengineering to counter global warming, which would consequently transform the relationship of terrestrial plant-life to the sun. This is an article not about geoengineering as such, but instead what is called photosynethics, or, thinking about our moral relationship to the light – in particular, as it is mediated by plants. Working from within but then extending the idea of responsibility found in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, it is argued here that, since the plant cultivates the conditions of life on earth by photosynthesis, its relationship to the sun is then a relation of giving to others that is properly moral. The plant’s existence is an exposure so out of kilter with human ways of understanding existence that it interrupts our own and brings us into a relation of responsibility. It is concluded that rather than redirecting the sun’s radiation, we should turn to plants to reconsider how we live with the light on a heating planet. This first means separating moral responsibility from human vision so that we might encounter light on its own terms, and not simply as an element of rationality or sentiment or discipline.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14797585.2023.2271690
School/Department: York Business School
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8878

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