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The Life of Plants
A Metaphysics of Mixture
We barely talk about them and seldom know their names. Philosophy has always overlooked them; even biology considers them as mere decoration on the tree of life. And yet plants give life to the Earth: they produce the atmosphere that surrounds us, they are the origin of the oxygen that animates us. Plants embody the most direct, elementary connection that life can establish with the world.
In this highly original book, Emanuele Coccia argues that, as the very creator of atmosphere, plants occupy the fundamental position from which we should analyze all elements of life. From this standpoint, we can no longer perceive the world as a simple collection of objects or as a universal space containing all things, but as the site of a veritable metaphysical mixture. Since our atmosphere is rendered possible through plants alone, life only perpetuates itself through the very circle of consumption undertaken by plants. In other words, life exists only insofar as it consumes other life, removing any moral or ethical considerations from the equation. In contrast to trends of thought that discuss nature and the cosmos in general terms, Coccia's account brings the infinitely small together with the infinitely big, offering a radical redefinition of the place of humanity within the realm of life.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"Back to animals! Back to mushrooms! And now back to plants! It is with plants that this marvellous, witty, and immensely literate book wants us, the human readers, to get acquainted again. And, of course, with plants it is actually toward the sun that we are reoriented. Philosophy is on the move again, not exactly forward but downward, giving a completely different meaning to what counts as a foundation to thought."
"The view of life as interdependence is a particularly affecting and relevant way to think about living and coping in the Anthropocene, when the ways that humans affect the literal composition of the atmosphere has become the existential question of our time."