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The Sublime and the Pale Blue Dot: Reclaiming the Cosmos for Earthly Nature

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Amidst a worsening climate crisis, there is growing public discourse theorising the possible colonisation of outer space to secure a sustainable future for humanity. In the face of these escapist fantasies, political discussion on humanity's relation to the universe is notably limited and primarily frames space exploration as a dangerous Promethean endeavour. While I do not contest this claim, I argue that humanity's technological capabilities and acquired knowledge of the universe can alternatively facilitate an Earth-centred engagement with the Cosmos as a sublime aesthetic experience. I frame the sublime Cosmos and its infinite expanse of dynamic material forces, as a site of resistance against Promethean visions of human mastery and colonisation. I then theorise how the sublime Cosmos can be productively engaged as a source of political imagination and spiritual elevation. Recovering a spiritual attachment to Earth is necessary, for we are irrevocably tied to this rapidly destabilising planet.

Keywords: aesthetics; anthropocentrism; outer space; science and technology; sublime

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2023

This article was made available online on August 19, 2022 as a Fast Track article with title: "The Sublime and the Pale Blue Dot: Reclaiming the Cosmos for Earthly Nature".

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2022) of 2.2. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.5.
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