Oceanic and Tethysian being-in-the-world

An essay on the human self and world understanding in the Anthropocene

  • Michael Paulsen University of Southern Denmark, DK
Keywords: Being-in-the-world, human self and world understanding, Thales, water, Tethys, Oceanus, life forgetfulness, Anthropocene crack, worldecological crisis, Berl-Berl, swamp


This essay proposes that we, as human beings, especially in the West and in the Holocene epoch, have developed a life-negating understanding of ourselves and the world. This is uncovered in the Anthropocene, through what is called ‘the Anthropocene crack’: a painful eco-wound revealing how we forgot that we are living beings in a living water-world, coexisting with other living water-beings. Yet the Anthropocene crack is also a gateway to a new Anthropocene world understanding that acknowledges our oceanic and tethysian being-in-the world, which is an ecological understanding of life, living beings and the world in which water is seen as the arche (ἀρχή) of everything in this world.