Herodotus in the Anthropocene

Herodotus in the Anthropocene

Joel Alden Schlosser

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226704708

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Herodotus in the Anthropocene develops a vision of earthly flourishing that can inspire and inform action in the twenty-first century. The book argues that Herodotus’ Histories offers a cluster of concepts for articulating and understanding the dynamic nature of things in a complex world, how human beings develop cultural practices, or nomos or nomoi, in responsive interaction with the non-human things that shape existence, and that political institutions might best sustain the communities of things produced through these practices. Herodotus' concept of earthly flourishing calls attention to the dynamic interaction of human and non-human that has become undeniable in the Anthropocene. Yet the concept shifts responses away from simply changing political institutions or dissolving all agents into one teeming collective. Instead, earthly flourishing illuminates how human and non-human interactions create ongoing practices with permanence as well as an openness to change. Earthly flourishing names not a state but an activity, an activity that has been pursued for millennia; the Histories narrates different pursuits of earthly flourishing and shows how these practices might be best pursued through commitments to equality inflected by particular historical situations.