A ground-breaking new vision of humankind is quickly spreading into the mainstream of our self-understanding. We are no longer standing apart from nature, so the new belief goes: we are enmeshed in it. Some authors even assert that nature and humans are one and the same. This comes not just as a philosophical claim but rather as an empirical realization. The cultural image man has of himself has become a scientific issue. Traces of pesticides, nuclear fallout, and nitrogen fertilizer can be found in the Arctic ice crystals and in the soils of the Amazon. Climate change has proven that humans are inescapably connected to Earth and its systems.
These are the signs of the “Anthropocene,” or, as some call it, the geological “epoch of humankind.” “Anthropocene” was first coined as a geological term by atmospherical chemist Paul Crutzen. He argued that the extent of human domination over the biosphere has abrogated the idea that nature is separate from humans, thus ending the Holocene.
We still need to fully realize that the change in the geologic calendar named by Crutzen has heralded a distinctly new cultural epoch. In this new age, which has just begun, nature and mind are no longer separate. The duality between nature and culture, which stems from Enlightenment thinking, has been overcome, and this is big news. Dualism, which determined our thinking and actions for 250 years, has ended. The Enlightenment is over.
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