Social dreaming and ecocentric ethics: sources of non-rational insight in the face of climate change catastrophe
The article considers the role of dreams as social, rather than individual, phenomena and suggests that as such they may serve as resources for ‘future imaginings’ with respect to potentially devastating consequences of climate change (and other transgressions of planetary boundaries). Adopting a socio-analytical perspective, it contemplates the possibility of a societal level ‘cosmology episode’ caused by catastrophic climate change; a critical point of rupture in the meaning-making process which leaves local rationalities in ruin. Drawing on a ‘representative anecdote’, the article finds allegorical parallels between the cultural collapse of a traditional indigenous culture and the impending threat of ecocrisis currently facing humanity. The possibilities of seeing and imagining offered by collective forms of dreaming are explored alongside development of a non-anthropocentric ethics. Our focus is on ways of sensing, thinking and talking about climate change that are less dependent on a rational conscious subject. The article thus enquires into what cultural means or resources might be available to (post)modern western societies that, like the shamanic dream-vision of certain traditional cultures, might enable them to draw on non-anthropocentric sensibilities and organize responses to an impending cultural crisis. We conclude by offering Gordon Lawrence’s social dreaming matrix as one possible medium through which to imagine and see beyond climate change catastrophe.
notes: Accepted subject to minor typographical corrections Nov 2012.
Author's accepted version. Final published version available at http://online.sagepub.com
September 2013 vol. 20 no. 5 705-721