Iljoon Park is a research professor at Wonkwang University. His research interests have focused upon the subjects of being-human in contemporary philosophies, cognitive science, evolutionary theories, evolutionary psychology, artificial life and so on.
His main publications include: “Betweenness, the illusory self, and the disruptive subject: In evolutionary biology and cognitive science,” Tran-Humanities, vol.1 (2009), 177-199; “Betweenness and the authentic self: a comparison of Daoist thought with Heidegger within the context of living with an authentic selfhood,” Madang, vol.11 (2009), 95-117; “Rereading of the Whiteheadian understanding of organism in a trans-human age: a critical review of the ‘extended mind theory,’ Trans-Humanities, vol.8, no.1 (2015), 111-130; “A Post-naturalist idea of ec-stasy: an East-West Dialogue in a Tran-human age,” in Nature’s Transcendence and Immanence: A Comparative Interdisciplinary Ecstatic Naturalism, eds. M. Lawrence & J.S. Oh (Lexington Book, 2018), 137-147; “com/passion as the bodily extension: a theological critique of the interpretations of plasticity”, Madang, vol. 33(2020): 3-32.
Iljoon Park, “Liberation of Things: Accessing the Agency of Thing”
Today when the pandemic has been sweeping the whole planet, one realizes that liberation required for today needs to include material beings. It is a kind of symbolic that virus is an agent at the edge between life and non-living beings. The climate change and the ecological crises we have been globally facing today discloses that the living is already always entangled with the non-living. The climate system is not a living being, but it works like a living being, influencing all being on the planet. Here, one can capture the agential power of things. Material beings are not dead and passive but active and agential. The Great Pacific garbage patch also called the Pacific trash vortex is the aggregation of trashes floating over the ocean, and it has been growing.
We don’t have a perspective to see this kind of material agency so far, because we understand being and agency mainly from the human-centered and thus the organism-centered perspectives. However, ‘being’ is already always an entanglement of the living and the non-living, and the non-living is not dead and passive.
Karen Barad shows the entanglement of being interacting between the living and the non-living, but she does not want to use the term, interaction, because it presupposes the beings of subject and object so that interaction seems to be byproduct of their agencies. For her, the interaction does not derive from the structure of subjects and objects, but any subject or object comes from the entanglement of being or the being of the entanglement. So, she suggests ‘intra-action’ for interaction, emphasizing the active role of material beings.
Bruno Latour sees being not as individual substance but as actor-network, in which the living and the non-living, the natural and the artificial, all are entangled and intra-acted. We are extended beings over things artificial and natural, exerting our agential power with other forms of beings. We are not alone and singular but already always plural, the collective.
So far, theology has talked about salvation only from our human perspective, and theologies of liberation have talked about the liberation of people. However, the real and true liberation would not be thinkable unless we speculate the liberation of networked beings with us. Then, salvation is not a personal matter but that of the collective, in which all forms of being, including the living and the non-living, the natural and the artificial, can enjoy an exuberance of liberation together.