Purpose in the Anthropocene: Dynamical role and physical basis

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The dynamics of the modern Earth-system is not explicable without reference to systems that have a purpose, i.e., that exhibit goal-seeking behavior. This paper develops the physical basis of agency or purposiveness in the technosphere—the human-technological system that defines the Anthropocene—as part of an analysis of the organizational requirements of energy-dissipating systems. The regulative, or framing, approach used here avoids reliance on reductive modeling and aims instead at establishing general properties of purposive systems. Establishment of purposiveness (the condition of having a purpose) as a physical system property, rather than a metaphysical concept or a purely biological phenomenon, enables a new look at the role of humans and human purpose in the Anthropocene. This approach can help avoid the misleading anthropocentric assumption that humans are independent authors of the Anthropocene they inhabit, rather than contingent actors whose purposes are not entirely their own.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Haff, PK

Published Date

  • December 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 16 /

Start / End Page

  • 54 - 60

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2213-3054

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ancene.2016.07.002

Citation Source

  • Scopus