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Journal Article

Deep Time and Secular Time. A Critique of the Environmental ‘Long View’


Skrimshire,  Stefan
IASS Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam;

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Skrimshire, S. (2019): Deep Time and Secular Time. A Critique of the Environmental ‘Long View’. - Theory, culture & society, 36, 1, 63-81.

Cite as: https://publications.rifs-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_4077910
The Anthropocene concept allows human history to be imagined within the temporal framework of planetary processes. Accordingly, some environmentalists increasingly favour massively lengthening the temporal horizons of moral concern. Whilst there are defensible reasons for doing so, I wish to take issue with the ‘secular time’ perspective underlying some such approaches. To make my case, I present, in the first section, two recent manifestations of the long view perspective: a) ‘deep future’ narratives in popular climate science and futurism; b) the ideas behind the Long Now Foundation. In the second section, I apply a critical lens to these perspectives via classic analyses of secular time by Charles Taylor, Hannah Arendt and Giorgio Agamben. I conclude by suggesting that these post-secular critiques should be considered alongside recent approaches to the Anthropocene and the ‘geological turn’ from new materialist perspectives.