(In)sensible Ecologies: Expanding Relationality Through Imagination


  • Jason Young Queens University


imagination, poetics, sensibility, relationality


If we are to move beyond the instrumentalization of nature-as-resource, we must develop ways of being in the world that challenge anthropocentric perspectives that tend to reduce nature to its utilitarian value.  This essay is an exploration of the imagination as one such means by which we can move beyond a vision of nature as something that is to be catalogued, classified or otherwise "improved” – a perspective that tends to frame the environmental crisis as primarily a set of problems requiring solutions that can be fully articulated through empirically verifiable modalities of calculative rationality.  The imagination is herein articulated as the "organ of perception” (Goethe) capable of giving expression to otherwise insensible phenomena and expanding the realm of relationality to include the more-than-human.  A uniquely "telluric” imagination will be articulated as an ethical response to the current ecological moment that moves beyond models of the imagination as being merely mimetic, productive, or parodic (Kearney).  It differentiates itself from these subjective modalities by emphasizing the process-relational aspect of the imagination as emergent from the space between subject and object.  The essay concludes with a brief examination of Adam Dickinson's "Metabolic Poetics” as an expression of the telluric imagination that responds to the "invitation” at the heart of the environmental crisis not by providing solutions, but by gesturing beyond sensible nature towards the latent possibilities therein.

Author Biography

Jason Young, Queens University

Jason Young, MA, PhD (s) 

School of Environmental Studies

Faculty of Arts and Science | Queen's University

Biosciences Complex, Kingston, ON Canada K7L 3N6 | queensu.ca




How to Cite

Young, J. (2021). (In)sensible Ecologies: Expanding Relationality Through Imagination. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 17(1), 491–501. Retrieved from https://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/908