Climate Change, Buen Vivir, and the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Toward a Feminist Critical Philosophy of Climate Justice


Cochrane, Regina. 2014. “Climate Change, Buen Vivir, and the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Toward a Feminist Critical Philosophy of Climate Justice.” Hypatia 29 (3): 576–98.

Author: Regina Cochrane


This paper examines the proposal that the indigenous cosmovision of buen vivir (good living)—the “organizing principle” of Ecuador's 2008 and Bolivia's 2009 constitutional reforms—constitutes an appropriate basis for responding to climate change. Advocates of this approach blame climate change on a “civilizational crisis” that is fundamentally a crisis of modern Enlightenment reason. Certain Latin American feminists and indigenous women, however, question the implications, for women, of any proposed “civilizational shift” seeking to reverse the human separation from nonhuman nature wrought via Enlightenment's “disenchantment of nature.” The paper argues that, in order to adequately address both the climate crisis and feminist concerns about buen vivir, a different critique of Enlightenment modernity is necessary—one drawing on Adorno's philosophy of negative dialectics and on Adorno and Horkheimer's nonidentitarian dialectical understanding of Enlightenment. Conceiving Enlightenment as composed of nonsublatable moments of domination and liberation, Adorno and Horkheimer call for a rational critique of reason and for affinity rather than identity with nonhuman nature. The paper ends with a brief discussion of how feminist critiques of buen vivir and approaches to climate justice can be furthered via an engagement with an environmental feminist philosophy informed by a negative dialectical approach to Enlightenment.

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Bolivia, Ecuador

Year: 2014

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