223 pages, no illustrations
The margins of philosophy are populated by non-human, non-animal living beings, including plants. While contemporary philosophers tend to refrain from raising ontological and ethical concerns with vegetal life, Michael Marder puts this life at the forefront of the current deconstruction of metaphysics. He identifies the existentials features of plant behavior and the vegetal heritage of human thought so as to affirm the potential of vegetation to resist the logic of totalization and to exceed the narrow confines of instrumentality. Reconstructing the life of plants "after metaphysics," Marder focuses on their unique temporality, freedom, and material knowledge or wisdom. In his formulation, "plant-thinking" is the non-cognitive, non-ideational, and non-imagistic mode of thinking proper to plants, as much as the process of bringing human thought itself back to its roots and rendering it plantlike.
"For too long has the human mind been limited by thinking like a machine. Mechanistic thought has allowed humans to unleash violence on other species, both animals and plants. Plant-Thinking will help plants, but, even more importantly, it will help humans by understanding the sanctity and continuity of life and our place in the Earth Family."
– Vandana Shiva, activist and ecofeminist
"Recent advances in plant sciences reveal plants are sensitive organisms capable of rich sensory and communicative activities, based on complex and integrated signaling that allows for surprisingly sophisticated forms of behavior. Marder offers philosophical perspective on this paradigm shift with important consequences for theoretical philosophy, ethics, and politics."
– František Baluška, Friedrich Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät)
"Marder argues that recent advances in animal ethics, for all their virtues, are often blind to the blinkered instrumentality of our understanding of plants. Re-thinking that relation opens the vegetal world to a thinking encounter few thought possible (or necessary), one that puts plants in a wholly different light yet also offers new resources for dismantling our deeply rooted metaphysical legacy. This is a remarkable book – original, daring, and timely."
– David Wood, Vanderbilt University
"A striking and unique contribution."
– Elaine P. Miller, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Philosophy, Miami University
"A superbly presented seminal work [...] Highly recommended."
– Midwest Book Review
"We owe Marder [...] a great debt for widening the contemporary philosophical discussion of life and ethics, taking it into the plant kingdom."
– Jeffrey T. Nealon, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Michael Marder's book Plant-Thinking is a timely contribution to the project of expanding ethical considerations to non-human beings [...] This is a strong contribution to the post-metaphysical project."
– Canadian Philosophical Review
– Bangalore Review
"Anyone can find something of note or amusement here."
– Publishers Weekly
Foreword by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala
Introduction: To Encounter the Plants . . .
Part I. Vegetal Anti-Metaphysics
Chapter 1. The Soul of the Plant
Chapter 2. The Body of the Plant
Part II. Vegetal Existentiality
Chapter 3. The Time of Plants
Chapter 4. The Freedom of Plants
Chapter 5. The Wisdom of Plants
Epilogue: The Ethical Offshoots of Plant-Thinking
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Michael Marder is IKERBASQUE Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz. He is the author of The Philosopher's Plant: An Intellectual Herbarium, The Event of the Thing: Derrida's Post-Deconstructive Realism and Groundless Existence: The Political Ontology of Carl Schmitt, and, with Patricia Vieira, he is the coeditor of Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought. He is also an associate editor of the journal Telos and a series editor of Political Theory and Contemporary Philosophy at Continuum Press and of Critical Plant Studies: Philosophy, Literature, Culture at Rodopi Press.