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Expansionism, Extremism and Exceptionalism in Life: Boltzmann Brains as trans-disciplinary methodology

Walford, AC; Kirk, D; (2018) Expansionism, Extremism and Exceptionalism in Life: Boltzmann Brains as trans-disciplinary methodology. Environmental Humanities , 9 (2) pp. 341-358. 10.1215/22011919-4215334. Green open access

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Abstract

This article explores how taking physical cosmology and the entities that populate its fringes on their own terms might prompt anthropology to rethink what and how it thinks of life. Physical cosmologists work with inanimate matter that lies at the frontier of existential possibility, positing scales and concepts that seem to negate commonsense notions of life and nonlife. Although a common reaction in anthropology when faced with such infinite, nonhuman, and abstract landscapes is to try to crowbar “everyday life” back in, we argue that conceptual space needs to be made for another style of engagement between anthropology and physical cosmology. Taking the Boltzmann Brain as an example of life not only beyond the human but also beyond life as we know it, we start to flesh out a different sort of speculative, transdisciplinary endeavor.

Type: Article
Title: Expansionism, Extremism and Exceptionalism in Life: Boltzmann Brains as trans-disciplinary methodology
Location: USA
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1215/22011919-4215334
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/22011919-4215334
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
Keywords: cosmology, life, Boltzmann Brains, limits, speculation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10042471
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