BSP Podcast: Mariia Galkina – phenomenology of environmental shame

podcast update

This episode of the BSP Podcast sees Mariia Galkina presenting a paper from our 2022 annual conference, ‘Engaged Phenomenology II’.

Season 6 episode 157: 3 July 2024

Season 6 continues with another presentation from our 2022 annual conference, Engaged Phenomenology II: Explorations of Embodiment, Emotions, and Spatiality. This episode features a presentation from Mariia Galkina, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris.

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Mariia Galkina
‘Towards a phenomenology of environmental shame’

This contribution aims to study the phenomenon of environmental shame and its role in awakening of ecological consciousness. It starts with the problem of asymmetry of human power that marks the current ecological transition. On the one hand, the growing ecological footprint testifies to excess of human power over the environment which leads to the sixth mass extinction and endangers planetary balance. On the other, facing ecological crisis, human, paradoxically, finds himself more powerless than ever. Powerless to slow down and to challenge his daily production and consumption practices by refusing to take their consequences into account. In a word, powerless to suspend his own power. One should ask then how to catalyze this suspension. My argument is to consider shame as such a feeling that turns an excess of human power over the environment into “potential-not-to”. Making use of this ontological concept developed by Agamben in order to think the negativity of human power that shame activates, the paper elaborates a phenomenology of “environmental shame”. Since suspending power requires to challenge its ethical justification by measuring the extent of its destructive consequences for other species, it is nothing but shame where freedom becomes aware of its murderous character that answers the need of self-limitation of human power over the environment. My concept of “environmental shame” develops Levinasian approach that defines shame as a discovery of injustified facticity of power and freedom, but rethinking it from the human relation to other endangered and vulnerable living beings. Shame, I argue, is a revolutionary feeling able to operate a conversion of environmental consciousness and transform our manner of being in the world by actualizing the “potential-not-to”, i.e. the negative potential that allows inoperativity of human power.

Biography: Maria Galkina is a pre-thesis student in philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris (PSL). Her research interests cover phenomenology of emotions and environmental ethics. Her Master’s thesis (2021, ENS-PSL) focused on the dialectic of negativity and creativity of shame, namely analyzing the works of Levinas, Agamben and Dostoevsky. Next year Maria starts her PhD thesis under the supervision of Dr. Marc Crépon (Archives Husserl Laboratory, ENS-PSL). thesis will propose a phenomenology of environmental shame making use of both phenomenological and psychological methods and mobilizing, among others, the conceptions of Levinas and Günther Anders.

Further Information:

This recording is taken from our Annual UK Conference 2022: Engaged Phenomenology II: Explorations of Embodiment, Emotions, and Sociality (Exeter, UK / Hybrid) with the University of Exeter. Sponsored by the Wellcome Centre, Egenis, and the Shame and Medicine project. For the conference our speakers either presented in person at Exeter or remotely to people online and in-room, and the podcast episodes are recorded from the live broadcast feeds.

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP?