How Language Influences our Perception & Treatment of Earth in the 21st Century Anthropocene

An Examination of How Language Influences our Perception and Treatment of Earth in the 21st Century Anthropocene

Victoria Llorens

Llorens AnthropoceneSource:

My thesis explored the use of language and its effect on the way we think and act. It made use of the Western canon, taught in the Program of Liberal Studies, to highlight how Western cultures not only justify but also mandate the abuse of Earth. It cited thinkers such as Hobbes, Marx, and Rousseau and focused ultimately on the influence Francis Bacon has over scientific language and practice.

My thesis proposed that the 17th century was a critical turning point in scientific practice which catalyzed a view of Earth as sheer matter—a view which needs to be countered if we hope to live fulfilling lives in the future. In addition, implementing technology which combats the inevitable effects of climate change, we must go beyond to alter our mindsets and lifestyles. This thesis recognized how the languages of many Native American and Indigenous cultures more easily allow their speakers to recognize the animacy in the world around them. I cited examples in my own experience of how Western cultures have allowed this animacy to percolate into our lifestyles. I concluded that a holistic approach is needed in order to confront our 21st century problem of global change. Listening to Earth and to viewpoints different from our own, along with technological development, is the only viable way forward.