Copyright Ginny Battson

Biophilia, Fluminism, Symbiocene. An interview with Ginny Battson

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In aliis linguis

(Nota de la entrevistadora: I want to express here my gratitude to both of them for their time, effort and kindness. It has been a privilege to have been in contact with Ginny, delving deeper into her thinking on the occasion of my Final Degree Project Ginny Battson’s Fluminism: An Ecoethics for the 21sy Century, defended at the Department of Philosophy of the UAM in June 2022.)


Laura Muñoz: In your text Fluminism[1] you point out that the love to which you refer “is not the God of Spinoza or the naturalism of Hume, but the material interconnections between all things” (p. 21). You also write that “love is largely a choice” (p. 22). Love would be a choice to help other beings, human or non-human, in their vital processes, a choice that, in turn, will improve the life of each one. So, is love an option that can be freely chosen? Does it belong to all living beings, to all life, or only the human being can choose between taking it or not?

Do you think that love is an “instinctive” act? If so, in our capitalist societies, apparently devoid of this natural love, would they be deviating from that instinct, or must love be learned? If love is a choice, should it be preceded by an education in it, based on respect and a restructuring of our relationships with nature, which are now hierarchized by human interests?

Ginny Battson
Ginny Battson
Ginny Battson: Following Lynn Margulis’s trajectory of symbiotic thought, I see all interconnections or unions as a dynamic force of intelligence with which all porous life engages in flows to varying degrees. To me, the degree of engagement is on a sliding scale of consciousness. Even random acts of supposed subconscious union (imagine some may argue these include any original mitochondrial establishments within cells), are then more consciously repeated when the unions consequentially lead towards life flourishing.

Surely this process is, to its core, a powerful form of love, when love is a verb conducive to a good life (including ecological death). All beings may participate. I call it Fluminism. Biophilia (Wilson) describes well an innate, perhaps less conscious, attraction; but in some sadly powerful and influential humans, particularly western industrial capitalists/colonialists, it is clearly weak, with the consequence of the Anthropocene. In actively nurturing both understanding, imagining, and engaging with the flows of life, in multiple directions, fluminism is more than innate. It is a process; an unending series of choices and adjustments (in relationships, gaining knowledge, nurturing imagination, resistance, conceding there is mystery), eventually leading to ‘good’ (LIFE). Yes, sharing knowledges (observational, empirical, indigenous, et al.), is very important, as is the choices of how best to do that.

L.M.: Have you considered the viability of your theory in a world dominated by economic interest, the commodification of life in general and indifference to the eco-social crisis? Would it be possible to turn this theory into a universal ethic, or does it have to do more with a personal vision? Could we all be fluministas?

Portada de FluminismoG.B.: a) Yes. My original thesis poses fluminism as a resistance to commodification and, to a great extent capitalism and its inequity and wastes, et al. —a new/ancient way of perceiving the meaning of LIFE.

b) There would be a commonality in inclusion for all, but universalisms are problematic in that they are dictated and negate choice. I see fluminism more as an “ethic of care” (see Gilligan).

c) Yes, we could all be fluministas to varying degrees, given that we are “free” to do so. This, critically entails liberation from inequity, its toxicities and repetitive traumas (also an act of love). A process like breathing unpolluted air.

L.M.: In your text you also write: “Nature is intensely interconnected, no species is more important than any other for the overall perspective” (p. 36). Can we live without minimal hierarchy? How? Is it possible to have this overall perspective without leaving behind our anthropocentric starting point?

G.B.: I think many indigenous cultures demonstrate a levelling, say for example based on reciprocity (Wall-Kimmerer) or kincentrism (Salmon). I think it is possible to live with, at least, far less inter-species hierarchy based on need being central to community value rather than want (excessive desire). One key value shift to drive decision making must surely be to value “we” over “I”. Again, this is a process. Living without minimal hierarchy? We can, at least, strive, and there is good in that. But humans are imperfect, sure. The ego!

L.M.: Are we still in time to save our relationship with nature? How do you think the creation of neologisms can contribute to this? What other strategies would be necessary?

G.B.: Yes, there is always time to save our relationship with nature, but the Anthropocene is rapidly changing that nature (including ourselves) and some of those relationships. This is, not least, because of the loss of species and vast migratory forces. Value shifts and shared understanding are critical. It is key to consider all as a process, of moving away from the Anthropocene and to a far more equitable and loving shared LIFE. Albrecht calls this the Symbiocene.

I contend such neologisms do have much purpose, but with obvious limitations of language.

Ginny Battson- natación salvaje en el río Wye
‘Wild swimming in the river Wye’. Photo © Ginny Battson, used for the cover of the Spanish edition of her book.

Notes

[1] Ginny Battson: Fluminismo. El amor y la ecología como fuerza integradora para el bien y como resistencia para la mercantilización de la naturaleza y los daños planetarios, translated by Roberto Álava et al., Ediciones del Genal, Málaga, Spain, 2020. It should be noted that this edition is the result of the selfless effort of a group of students from the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UAM (the majority, students of the Degree in Philosophy in the 2018-19 academic year), who carried out the collaborative translation of the work under the direction of Jorge Riechmann. Page numbers refer to the translated edition.

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Graduada en Filosofía por la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Colaboradora en la revista Filosofía en la Red.

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