Non-instrumental Care

Jane Bennett argues

“to acknowledge nonhuman materialities as participants in a political ecology is not to claim that everything is always a participant , or that all participants are alike”.

If I care about the trees because they provide oxygen or the soil because it nourishes my food, I care instrumentally. What then does it look like to care humanly about nonhuman materialities? What might non-instrumental caring look like?

One way of caring is to notice and name nonhuman materialities. To recognise and value that others have their own life and sense of meaning that we can tune into for a moment. To call others by their name. Maybe even each individual. Just as we humans feel appreciated when we are seen, recognised and someone knows our name, why wouldn’t the nonhuman feel the same?