Bringing hope to crisis: critical thinking, ethical action and social change

Sarah S. Amsler

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished Conference Paper


This paper departs from this point to consider whether and how crisis thinking contributes to practices of affirmative critique and transformative social action in late-capitalist societies. I argue that different deployments of crisis thinking have different ‘affect-effects’ and consequences for ethical and political practice. Some work to mobilize political action through articulating a politics of fear, assuming that people take most responsibility for the future when they fear the alternatives. Other forms of crisis thinking work to heighten critical awareness by disrupting existential certainty, asserting an ‘ethics of ambiguity’ which assumes that the continuous production of uncertain futures is a fundamental part of the human condition (de Beauvoir, 2000). In this paper, I hope to illustrate that the first deployment of crisis thinking can easily justify the closing down of political debate, discouraging radical experimentation and critique for the sake of resolving problems in a timely and decisive way. The second approach to crisis thinking, on the other hand, has greater potential to enable intellectual and political alterity in everyday life—but one that poses considerable challenges for our understandings of and responses to climate change...
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventESRC Seminar on Future Ethics - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jan 2009 → …


SeminarESRC Seminar on Future Ethics
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period1/01/09 → …


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