Volatile Bodies, Volatile Earth: Towards an Ethic of Vulnerability


This article outlines a “microontology” of social life on Earth. This ontology attends to the majority of relations on our planet: those amongst microbes. Making up the majority of organisms on Earth, bacteria evince the greatest organismal diversity and have dominated evolutionary history. The microontology pushes relational-material approaches to consider the vast majority of relations within the biosphere as independent of, and largely indifferent to, human input. It also pushes us to observe that our symbiotic relationship with bacteria is obligate for humans (that is, essential to our survival) but not for bacteria. Through acknowledging this we can develop an ethics of vulnerability.

DOI: doi.org/10.5282/rcc/6199