Ethical Futures: Digital and Ecological is a multi-disciplinary network of theologians, philosophers, natural and social scientists, artists, practitioners, academics and activists with shared interests in developing theological responses to ecological challenges and new digital technologies.
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During the age of cheap, plentiful fossil fuels these have underpinned human societies’ tendency to deplete resources and produce accumulating wastes at ever-increasing rates. As a result the human species has overshot the long-term carrying capacity of the planet. However the study of ecological systems shows that simplification need not mean terminal disaster.
John Reader explores the ways in which concern for the environment is mediated by digital technology, focusing on three key terms: disinhibition; disincarnation; and deceleration. As humans both shape and are shaped by the natural, we share a responsibility to discern the ways in which the dynamic assemblages of nature and digital technology can be use in a way that is life-enhancing and beneficial.
Secular modernity tends to assume that thing will get better, says Richard Douglas; it relies on a theodicy of progress. But Douglas argues that our current ecological predicament requires us to radically re-think this understanding of reality. Ranging from Charles Taylor and Hans Blumenberg to William Temple and Hugh Montefiore, this is a probing analysis of some of the serious problems posed by the Anthropocene.
In this instalment of our new series Temple Continental: Philosophers for our Time Tim Middleton introduces the “spherical philosophy” of the provocative thinker Peter Sloterdijk. From bubbles and eggs to globes and foam, much of life can be imagined as the inhabiting of spheres. Middleton then turns to what theology might learn from this philosophy in an era of ecological breakdown. Considering our current crisis, can we really contemplate a literal or metaphorical escape capsule? As our planet comes back to bite us, how might we seek protection from and simultaneously learn to live within our morally ambiguous earth? And can theology help us to inhabit our local and global spheres concurrently?
In the second of our Temple Ethical Futures series, John Reader and Adrian Evans draw on the philosophical resources of the contemporary New Materialisms in order to propose a new, modest form of ethics. Including thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze and Bruno Latour, and focussing particularly on ethical praxis in an age of information, Reader and Evans make the case for greater humility in both science and religion. This tract forms part of the ongoing work of the Ethical Futures group, which is hosted by the William Temple Foundation.
In the first of a new series of Tracts, Temple Ethical Futures, Maggi Savin-Baden and John Reader offer both practical examples of ways in which digital technology is impacting upon church activities and then reflect upon the philosophical and theological resources that could assist in developing appropriate concepts. This is the first Tract to emerge from a workshop held at Trinity College, Oxford in February 2018 entitled “Theological Futures: Ecological and Digital” at the heart of which is the issue of how humans are both shaping and being shaped by the new challenges we face and for which we are ourselves largely responsible. It is hoped that the publications in this series will address this question at both a practical and theoretical level.