Exploring Pathos at Life’s Material Interfaces

By Marjolein Oele

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, Environmental Philosophy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Philosophy, Ecology
Series: SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438478609, 268 pages, January 2021
Hardcover : 9781438478616, 268 pages, April 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. Plants and Affectivity: The Middle-Voiced Lives of Plants

2. Animals and Affectivity: Aisthēsis, Touch, Trauma, and Bird Feathers

3. Generative Human Affectivity: The Placenta as Place-and-Time-Making In-Between

4. Skin and Human Sapient Affectivity: Skin, Webbed Existence, Temporal Depth, and Trust

5. E-Co-Affectivity beyond the Anthropocene: On Soil and Soil Pores

Works Cited

Offers an interdisciplinary investigation of affectivity in various forms of life.


E-Co-Affectivity is a philosophical investigation of affectivity in various forms of life: photosynthesis and growth in plants, touch and trauma in bird feathers, the ontogenesis of human life through the placenta, the bare interface of human skin, and the porous materiality of soil. Combining biology, phenomenology, Ancient Greek thought, new materialisms, environmental philosophy, and affect studies, Marjolein Oele thinks through the concrete, living places that show the receptive, responsive power of living beings to be affected and to affect. She focuses on these localized interfaces to explain how affectivity emerges in places that are always evolving, creative, porous, and fluid. Every interface is material, but is also "more" than its current materiality in cocreating place, time, and being. After extensively describing the effects of the milieu and community within which each example of affectivity takes place, in the final chapter Oele adds a prescriptive, ethical lens that formulates a new epoch beyond the Anthropocene, one that is sensitive to the larger ecological, communal concerns at stake.

Marjolein Oele is Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco. She is the coeditor (with Gerard Kuperus) of Ontologies of Nature: Continental Perspectives and Environmental Reorientations.


"Marjolein Oele's E-Co-Affectivity is not just a book for our time; it is a book that points the way to new and better times as realized in oncoming places that are informed by an intrepid ecological vision that is at once rigorously argued and eloquently stated." — Research in Phenomenology

"This is a very welcome contribution to environmental philosophy. The strikingly original thesis is evident in the book's title: what we call 'ecology' is a co-affectivity—the mutuality of affecting and being affected on the part of species, biological kingdoms, ecosystems, etc. Here, Marjolein Oele melds biology and ontology in new and creative ways, enriching both fields. Her book performs the very theme it explores: it stages a co-affective relation between philosophy and the life sciences." — Michael Marder, author of Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life