I just finished reading Michel Serres‘ book Temps des crises (Paris: Le Pommier, 2009, 79 pp.). The idea that struck me most and that seems to me to be really helpful in the context of today’s planetary environmental crisis suggests to allow beings on our planet – air, water, energy, earth, living beings (Serres calls this “Biogée”, a French word, for which, as yet, I have no translation) – to constitute a kind of parliament – called WAFEL (Water, Air, Fire, Earth, Life) with voices that can address with us, human beings, today’s challenges. Nature becomes a subject with a voice, a conversation partner. Of course, the question has to be raised how we, human beings, are going to be able to listen to these voices. Not our politicians, nor our economists, provide the capacity to listen. Here, Serres emphasizes the role of scientists. I like these ideas and suggestions, as they initiate a new kind of epistemology and philosophy. I think also the religions should learn from these ideas, so as to acquire a more humble attitude towards nature as creation and so as to be rescued from their all too narrow focus on the human being. I will continue to read Michel Serres … He has written a lot, and some of it is even available in English. I also signal a blog devoted to his thought.
I allow myself one quote from Temps des crises, as an appetizer for those who read French. It is taken from p. 51 of the book:
“Je viens de proposer la création d’une institution non internationale mais mondiale, où l’air et l’eau, l’énergie et la terre, les espèces vivantes, bref, la Biogée, seraient représentés. La WAFEL serait le parlement de la Biogée. Mais qui aurait la parole en ce parlement de muets? Mieux vaudrait en discuter vite – je le fais plus loin – que s’adonner aux répétitions susdites. Sûrement pas, en tout cas, les politiques actuels, dont la désuétude se mesure à leur ignorance des paroles et des choses du monde. …”