This study consists of seven main chapters, each of which works to support a different hypothesis. I do not wish to support every hypothesis equally – in Chapters 1 and 2, for example, I wish to create a very broad backdrop of themes and information that will ‘set the scene’ for later Chapters[1]. In Chapters 3, 4 and 7, a ‘traditionally academic’ approach[2] will be taken in supporting the hypotheses of those chapters. In Chapter 5 I will offer information to establish outlines of particular (‘alternative’) focal areas, while in Chapter 6 I take a more reflective turn and explore permaculture principles in the light of the theoretical basis established in Chapters 1 to 5, as well as in the light of my own experiences with permaculture. Here follows the hypotheses of each chapter:

Chapter 1: ‘Something’ is happening in the realm of planetary ecology that is cause for serious concern. This ‘something’ is generally referred to as the ecological crisis, which is constituted by various ‘ecological indicators’ that together indicate a massive overall degradation of the life-support systems of planet Earth. This degeneration is so intense that the contemporary epoch is often referred to as ‘the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth’[3].

Chapter 2: The current degeneration of the life-support systems on Earth has specific physical and material causes. Specifically, these causes can be traced to phenomena that are ‘part and parcel’ of various large-scale human industries, practices, and systems. Accordingly, this geological period in Earth’s history has increasingly been referred to as the anthropocene, which Rosi Braidotti (2013:79) describes as “an age when the earth’s ecological balance is directly regulated by humanity”[4].

Chapter 3: Several dominant ‘shapers of discourse’ exist that explicitly promote human attitudes that are unambiguously hostile towards nature and accordingly direct or drive human action toward ecologically-destructive ends. These shapers of discourse are Christianity, Science, Technology, Capitalism, and Democracy in their actual historical formats, versus their idealised forms[5]. Together they have paved the way for the ‘Promethean’ dispensation of ACID[6].

Chapter 4: Various Promethean ‘mechanisms’ have developed historically that resultantly prevent transition away from the ecologically-problematic actions associated with ACID. Awareness of Promethean characteristics (qualities such as dominion and domination) and Promethean mechanisms renders the claim, that ‘there is no alternative to the systems that constitute ACID’[7], naïve or biased. Instead, the reign of the Promethean must be situated in the context of the homogenising[8] modus-operandi of ACID and its accompanying perpetuation mechanisms.

Chapter 5: Despite the centuries-long reign of the Promethean, various peripheral (Orphic) ‘alternative ideas’ are available that exemplify what the outcomes of ecologically-respectful attitudes look like. These ‘alternative ideas’ generally, either directly or indirectly, emphasise the shortcomings of the Promethean and various aspects of ACID, and instead promote attitudes, ways of thinking, and ways of being that constitute some of the ‘ingredients’ for a dispensation in which human beings would have an entirely different relationship with the collective ecology of planet Earth.

Chapter 6: Permaculture is a design system consisting of principles, directives, priorities and ethics that direct human attitudes and actions toward actually-achievable sustainable outcomes, versus the kind of ecologically-problematic outcomes associated with the ‘greening’ of big-Business where the ‘costume’ of the character is changed but the character remains unaltered (so to speak). Permaculture offers a framework with which to reflect on some of the issues identified during Chapters 1 to 5, a framework which can also be used by individuals, groups and organisations to work to achieve a form of autonomy usually unachievable for the average person living according to the strict and homogenous rules of ACID. In other words, permaculture changes the rules of the ‘game’ ordinarily dominated by Promethean shapers of discourse, towards rules of a ‘game’ clearly ‘played’ in a manner compatible with the Orphic qualities and characteristics identified in this study.

Chapter 7: Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek characterise philosophy ‘in the present’ – or more specifically, the role of philosophy ‘in the present’[9] – in manners that depict it as ostensibly compatible with various central Orphic characteristics, as well as incompatible with various central Promethean characteristics. The same can be said for Hadot’s depiction of the older notion of ‘philosophy as a way of life’. Due to their explicitly Orphic and un-Promethean characteristics, philosophy in the present on the one hand, as well as philosophy as a way of life on the other, are very useful depictions of the role of philosophy in the context of the ecological crisis and associated phenomena and ideas (as I explore these phenomena and ideas) in the first 6 chapters of this study.

[1] I will comment more on this ‘setting of the scene’ in the ‘Aims and methodology’ section.

[2] Again, I will comment on this approach in the ‘Aims and methodology’ section.

[3] Kovel (Kovel 2007:1+2) points out that at “the dawn of a new millennium, one could observe” that species “were vanishing at a rate that has not occurred in 65 million years”. Foster, Clark, and York (2010:39) state that “Homo sapiens under the present economic and social system are destroying natural habitat, which is driving the sixth mass extinction”. Also see www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/03/are-we-middle-sixth-mass-extinction (accessed 6 February 2017).

[4] Additionally, Foster, Clark, and York (2010:12) have this to offer about the Anthropocene: “The term Anthropocene was coined a decade ago by the Nobel Prize–winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen to mark the coming to an end, around the time of the late-eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution, of the Holocene epoch in planetary history. Holocene literally means ‘New Whole.’ It stands for the stable, interglacial geological epoch, dating back 10,000 to 12,000 years, in which civilization arose. Anthropocene, in contrast, means ‘New Human.’ It represents a new geological epoch in which humanity has become the main driver of rapid changes in the earth system.” The same authors also point out (2010:17) that the anthropocene is “a potential terminal event in geological evolution that could destroy the world as we know it”, and they add (Ibid) that the anthropocene “may be the shortest flicker in geological time, soon snuffed out”. See also the following sources for more perspective on the anthropocene: https://eos.org/opinions/what-is-the-anthropocene; http://science.sciencemag.org/content/340/6130/261; http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6269/aad2622.long; http://apnews.excite.com/article/20141014/us-sci-age-of-humans-961f501908.html. All accessed 6 February 2017

[5] See my comments, which I take from Speth (2008:31), on the difference between actually existing models versus idealised forms thereof, in the ‘Conventions’ and ‘Comments on some central terms’ sections.

[6] At no point do I argue that these shapers of discourse are exclusively causal in the formation of ACID and/or the ecological crisis; however, I identify these shapers of discourse as manifestations of, as well as perpetuators of, various attitudes and characteristics central to the ecologically-problematic state of planetary affairs.

[7] See my comments on the TINA claim in the conclusion of Chapter 5.

[8] I use the word ‘homogenisation’ in light of Rosi Braidotti’s use of it. In her book The Posthuman (2013), she uses the word homogenisation when she mentions the “homogenization of cultures under the effects of globalized advanced capitalism” (2013:49).

[9] I use the clause ‘in the present’ because the title of the book in which Badiou and Žižek describe and substantiate their views regarding the role of philosophy is Philosophy in the Present.