Anthropocentric views historically have limited the potential of respect for other-than-human beings by promoting ideologies of human exceptionalism with regard to consciousness, reason and language. The doctrine of human supremacy has become normalized in capitalistic cultures, driving the domination and exploitation of other beings and natural systems for their ‘use-value’ as ‘resource,’ leading to today’s catastrophic harms of climate change, species extinction, ecological degradation, ocean acidification, industrial farming, and animal slavery. As a means to counteract anthropocentrisms, this thesis proposes biophilic ethics and its constituent details—communicative ethics, biophilic attention, intentional relationality, interspecies generative indeterminacy—explored through art-action. The interdisciplinary investigation looks at methodologies in philosophy, ethics of care, ecofeminism, cognitive ethology, biology, naturalist methods, and aesthetics that interrogate beliefs in human superiority, and propose relational approaches to situate the human alongside Earth’s other beings within our shared ecosystems. The epistemological investigation is woven into ontological explorations rooted in relational events that happened while conducting interspecies processes in my art practice over the past decade. Each creative instance with dogs, crows and stones, fishes, and forests is examined for potential towards ecological understanding and compassionate action. Four projects that emerged from the interspecies processes—EPIC_Tom, Crow Stone Tone Poem, Salmon People, and Biophilia—model thinking-feeling and responding to Earth’s more-than-human co-inhabitants. The thesis expands on previous thought with regard to biophilic ethics by arguing that love for life is a lived-condition beyond human-centred values. Other beings are themselves biophilic—interested in their lives, their families, communities, and cultures. This expansion of biophilic ethics is explored through potentials emerging in more-than-human relational encounters enacted using ethics of care methods. Ethics of care calls into question objectivist and utilitarian methods, and instead promotes empathy practices to sense and feel our interdependent experiences. The attendant details of biophilic ethics proposed in the thesis are adaptations of previous thought, expanded through historical and contemporary aesthetic methods. Communication ethics calls for improved relations with other animals through developments in understanding about differing modes of perception and communication. My expansion on this thought is explored through applied interactions with other beings for interspecies expression and communication potentials. Biophilic attention is a development of aesthetic observational techniques, and proposes expanded attention towards other beings in relation to one’s own sensing-feeling-thinking in the world. Intentional relationality is proposed as respect for differing minds and life projects, emerging through interspecies participatory art methods that provide open-ended collaborative inquiry. Interspecies generative indeterminacy is informed by thought on agential intra-action combined with generative and indeterminacy methods first articulated in mid-twentieth century art practices and more recently explored in computational art. These details of biophilic ethics are examined within ranges of locatedness—the home, the neighbourhood, the territory, the Earth.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Duguid, Stephen