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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Sunday Night at the Movies: The Generative Mise en Abyme as Socius

Dr Anthony Macris.

In the late twentieth century, various developments in postmodern science and philosophy have questioned the efficacy of the mechanistic worldview, the idea of Enlightenment progress, and the ethics of unrestrained development as a means of dominating nature in all its forms. In this paper, I engage with these postmodern critiques as I consider fuller, alternative constructions of nature within contemporary philosophical and religious contexts. In so doing, I propose a model of postmodern religious naturalism that addresses gender, sexual, and racial biases in modern constructions of nature. This postmodern naturalism asserts that humans are relational processes of nature; in short, we are nature made aware of itself. I believe this truth claim about the relationality of nature compels us to enact certain forms of relationality among ourselves and with all other natural processes. While challenging a tradition of morally disengaged "scientific" discourse on nature, I argue that new constructions of nature resist the dominating tendencies implicit in modern scientific materialism, philosophic dualism, and theological idealism from which our inherited discourses on nature are derived. Insights from process thought, feminist critiques of biological science, and poststructuralist epistemological sensibilities inform my articulation of postmodern religious naturalism.
In attempting to answer these questions, I discuss the character of postmodern religious valuing, its import, and its distinctive role in contemporary humanistic (yet non-anthropocentric) discourse. I also show that postmodern religious valuing contributes to ongoing debates in the shift from modernist to postmodernist cultural sensibilities, and that religious thinking is both credible and important in a "post" age characterized by epistemological uncertainties, moral ambiguities, and cultural pluralism. As an interdisciplinary study, this paper places religious thought at the heart of debates concerning new directions in the humanities, and it offers an expanded model of religious valuing in the West.


Dr Anthony Macris  (Australia)
Faculty of Creative Arts
University of Wollongong

Anthony Macris is the author of the novel Capital, Volume One (A&U 1997). He teaches creative writing and textual theory at the University of Wollongong.

  • Narrative
  • Television
  • Poststructuralism
  • Capitalism
Person as Subject
  • Deleuze and Guattari

(Virtual Presentation, English)