This essay deals with an overlooked issue in the discourse of mobility and environmental ethics: what modes of moving do to me. I suggest that this issue makes more sense with regard to current research on ecopsychology, environmental psychology, postmodern theories, ecological feminism, ecotheology and the mobility discourse than the more common question: what are the best environmental consequences of our use of mobile machines? Starting from a social construction of technology or technosocial point of view (Bauchspies et al. 2006), according to which ‘technology is neither autonomous nor neutral, but dependent on particular social origins’ (Deane-Drummond 2004: 90), I suggest that discussions of the environmental ethical significance of mobile machines cannot be limited to their effects on the environment.The main aim of this essay is to introduce the concept of technogenic and impure identification processes and to suggest that this concept can generate new important questions for environmental mobility ethics. I suggest that the idea of technogenic and impure identifications might serve as a starting point for a new critical ethical endeavour that includes developing an understanding of a sustainable culture of automobility, along with generating new environmental awareness in this context, and a concept of environmental ethics that does not exclude relationships with machines.
Accordingly, the main questions are: what does it mean to engage in identification processes with mobile machines; how are technogenic and impure identification proc- esses connected to mobility; what kinds of questions would the concept of technogenic and impure identification processes pose for environmental mobility ethics?
The essay is interdisciplinary in so far as I use selected material from sociology, theoretical and empirical ecopsychology, ecotheology, ecological feminism, transport and planning research, postmodern theories and robotics. To some extent this is also a transdisciplinary work, since I shall also draw on my own experiences of having relationships with mobile machines.I shall discuss different concepts or views of the relationships between self, nature and machines. That is, I presuppose that individual and cultural views of the self and of machines have a bearing on our understandings of what constitutes a moral issue and how moral issues can be dealt with in the context of sustainable development.
I suggest that if we (may) engage in technogenic identification processes, this implies that we may see ourselves as impure mobile moral agents. Furthermore, I argue that the idea of mobile moral agents as impure can help develop our environmental ethical reflections on mobility in the context of sustainable development.The essay consists of eight sections. First, I introduce the main aims and questions of the essay. I then present the theoretical background for my reflections, and discuss the concept of mobility. I suggest that mobility as potential movement allows for the discussion of three modes and spaces of mobility: internal and external embodied space, geographical space and existential space. Additionally, I suggest that potential mobility in existential space (motility) is a prerequisite for identification proc- esses. In the following sections I introduce a typology of anthropogenic, ecogenic and technogenic identification processes. Following research in empirical environ- mental psychology, I suggest that identification with mobile machines (may) involve the same or similar aspects as identification with non-human organisms. I go on to discuss ideas of impure identification processes and the cyborg as an environmental ethical ideal and impure border dweller. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of what modes of moving may do to us and suggest some implications for environmental mobility ethics that follow from the idea of an individual being an impure mobile agent.
London: Equinox , 2008. 125-154 p.
technogenic identification processes, existential motility, impure existential motility, mobilities