Apple blossom, Henley Mill

Apple blossom, Henley Mill

I am interested in philosopher Jane Bennett’s idea of apersonal or ‘onto-sympathy’.  She suggests that, although as humans we are caught up in webs of antipathy and domination, we can be pricked into an awareness of shared capacities and materiality with the non-human by recognising a ‘kinship of shapes’.

From ‘It is to the vegetable we always come back’, paper presented by Jane Bennett at IHUM symposium ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ Princeton University, May 2013.


“I will emphasize, even overemphasize, the agentic contributions of nonhuman forces (operating in nature, in the human body, and in human artifacts) in an attempt to counter the narcissistic reflex in human language and thought.  We need to cultivate a bit of anthropomorphism – the idea that human agency has some echoes in nonhuman nature – to counter the narcissism of humans in charge of the world.”

From Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things Duke University Press (xvi)