« Sensitizing »

« Sensitizing » application/pdf icon

In Caroline Jones (ed) Experience: Culture, Cognition, and the Common Sense, MIT Press, pp. 315-338, 2015 (paper extracted and edited from a lecture at MIT in 2014 with excerpts from the Gaia play Cosmocolosse)


To approach the ancient philosophy of common sense—the sensus communis—we might begin at the beginning by asking: How do we make ourselves actually sensitive? By beginning this way, we can pose the present burning question: How do we make ourselves sensitive to one specific character, an unusual character who has been occupying me a lot lately: Gaïa. This character has a strange mixture of science, religion, law, and politics, and this mixture is well illustrated by a very moving and beautiful image of diplomats around the negotiation table as part of a climate change conference in Warsaw in December 2013, sponsored by the United Nations. They are negotiating about this strange figure Gaïa, and you might say they are trying to make a common sense. We see their dilemma in this photograph, which shows Mrs. Figueres at the left. She has the terrible responsibility of running this negotiation for the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon. The man standing to her left is the moderator, and they are very occupied, as you can imagine, and as I am, in the question of climate change and the figure of Gaïa. It’s a moving image where they’re all concentrated on rendering not only themselves, but also the rest of the public, the rest of the planet, sensitive to a new phenomenon.