Simone Kotva, An Enquiry Concerning Nonhuman Understanding – The Understory of the…

The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish: The Understory of the Understory
5th & 6th December 2020
Online at

The Understory of the Understory is the fourth instalment in an ongoing series of festivals on consciousness and intelligence across species, part of the Serpentine’s General Ecology project. With The Understory of the Understory, we go to that place which is simultaneously ground, land, soil and Earth, that is to say, the place where diverse species come together, collaborate, communicate and constitute one another but also where complex systems of redistribution of toxicity, logics of extraction and geopolitics meet.

Simone Kotva
An Enquiry Concerning Nonhuman Understanding: Mysticism and Plant-Thinking

This talk engages the homology between mysticism and plant-thinking, a homology between two forms of non-human understanding, drawing on the work of recent work of Michael Marder and the spiritual technologies attested in the Christian mystical tradition. Not only do we find ourselves, when reading Marder’s vegetable soteriology, once more in the presence of the mystic’s “plant” attentive to the “sun of justice,” but, in the description of the plant’s passive attentiveness we find ourselves also face to face with the mystic’s God, whose mode of understanding is itself radically open to all that is and whose attentiveness reveals itself as the language of vegetable of being.

Simone Kotva is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo. She writes on the relationship between philosophy, religion and ecology, and has a special interest in magic and the occult. She is the author of Effort and Grace: On the Spiritual Exercise of Philosophy (London: Bloomsbury, 2020). She co-convenes the Magic and Ecology project and is currently working on her second book, An Enquiry Concerning Nonhuman Understanding.




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