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Bernhard Josef Sylla

Bernhard Josef Sylla

Title: Towards a phenomenology of eco-anxiety

Abstract: Recent literature on the Anthropocene and, more specifically, on climate change, shows a growing awareness of the existence of a new type of anxiety that can be called eco-anxiety. Furthermore, there is a widespread consensus on the claims (i) that this new type of anxiety exists as a phenomenon, (ii) that it really is a new type of anxiety, and (iii) that this phenomenon is gaining in importance. Therefore, there is also a need to conceptualize this phenomenon, that is, to name it, to describe it, and to distinguish it from other types of anxiety. As usual, in such phases of conceptualization, different terms arise and are being used simultaneously, and this is also the case here: in addition to eco-anxiety, terms such as climate anxiety, Anthropocene anxiety or solastalgia, a term that refers to a specific type of eco-anxiety, have been proposed.

In addition to the theoretical efforts to name and describe the new phenomenon, there is also the need to understand and explain the phenomenon as such. Such a task is not only the task of psychology, since the discussion around this phenomenon requires a more comprehensive analysis, which could be characterized as phenomenological analysis. This would consider not only the main features of this phenomenon, but also reflect upon issues such as the relation of anxiety to time, its supposed causes, the role of hope, as well as epistemological issues concerning the verifiability of this anxiety, or praxeological issues related to social and transgenerational justice. The aim of this paper is to outline the basic features of this phenomenology.

Keywords: eco-anxiety, solastalgia, Anthropocene, climate change, phenomenology.

Bio: Bernhard Sylla is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and actually Head of the Department of Philosophy of the University of Minho (Arqus Alliance Partner). Furthermore, he is integrated member of the R&D Centre for Ethics, Politics and Society (CEPS) of the same university. His research interests are mainly in the areas of Philosophy of Language (analytic and continental traditions), Phenomenology (especially Heidegger), Philosophy of Technology (authors like Anders, Sloterdijk, Blumenberg), and recently Philosophy of Trauma. He is the author and/or editor of several books – e.g. Filosofia da Tecnologia. Introdução ao Pensamento dos Teóricos do Século XX (Coimbra, 2022); EIBEA 2019. Encontro Iberoamericano de Estudos do Antropoceno (Braga, 2019); Tecnofilosofia líquida: Anders, Blumenberg e Sloterdijk (Braga 2019) – and author of numerous scientific articles on themes within these areas.