Theory, Culture and Society, 22(5) pp. 165–185.
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Social theorists, drawing on the study of complex dynamical systems to address global processes, tend to evoke an immanent globality devoid of a constitutive otherness or outside. However, as well as dealing with the internal dynamics of systems, complexity studies point to the mutual implication of systems and their surroundings: a concern that resonates with the interest in the convolutions of the inside–outside relationship prominent in post-structural philosophies. This article, looking at theories about the dynamical characteristics of the solar system, galaxy and universe, develops the idea of an ex-orbitant globality that treats the earth as a system in active and ongoing interchange with its cosmic environment. A sense of the inevitable excess and unpredictability that attends this openness to the cosmos and to further other-than-human influences, it is suggested, has repercussions for the way we respond to environmental change injecting an element of abyssal undecidability into all our deliberations.
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