Environmental Philosophy

Volume 17, Issue 1, Spring 2020

Climate Change and the Task of Thinking

Tim Christion
Pages 159-181

Motivating a “Thinkable Politics”
A Critical Phenomenology of Climate Response

Climate change is one of the greatest collective action problems ever faced. The social and cultural barriers to intersubjectively motivating concern and agency are sweeping. It seems all but impossible to imagine politically viable solutions commensurate with the realities of the problem, and likewise find visionary ways of framing this problem to inspire meaningful solutions. One therefore perceives an abyss between ‘problem’ and ‘solution,’ as expressed in irreconcilable debates between problem-driven and solution-driven strategies for motivating climate action. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s dialectical phenomenology of motivation and class consciousness in particular, I argue that his call for a “thinkable politics” can help activists bring problem-driven and solution-driven motives for climate response into productive relation.