Bioethics Blogs

Earthly togetherness: making a case for living with worms by Filippo Bertoni

In this short case, I will try to convince you of the importance of earthworms in thinking about politics.

If this sounds like an argument, that is because it is. I first organized the materials in this essay to make a case. They were part of a public thesis ‘defense’ that took place in the small country of the Netherlands, a place where, at the culmination of a degree, a researcher will stand before a committee of fully-gowned academics who weigh the evidence presented and, in courtly fashion, bestow an official verdict. This forum, metonymic of much of Euro-American politics, presents truth in terms of a binary relation. There are rights and there are wrongs. Which is why it is important to say at the outset that even as I make an argument, spending time with worms and the scientists who work with them unsettles argumentative politics. What you will see is that the purpose of making a case may not be to be right, but to offer resources that we can use to metabolize and live with the world in alternative ways. Though I make an argument, I do not necessarily want you to agree. This is something I have learned by watching scientists who are watching earthworms. They have helped me to see how we might rework politics as usual, away from dreams of agreement and closer to the dirty and messy ongoings of compost.

Living together has been the focus of Euro-American political theory: from its mythical Greek origins so-called modern society was constructed on the idea that politics is a way to organize social life.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.