Cover of Theory of the Earth by Thomas Nail
Theory of the Earth
Thomas Nail


April 2021
320 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503614956
Paperback ISBN: 9781503627550



We need a new philosophy of Earth. Geological time used to refer to slow and gradual processes, but today we are watching the earth sink into the sea and forests transform into deserts. We can even see the creation of new geological strata made of plastic, chicken bones, and other waste that could remain in the fossil record for millennia or longer. Crafting a philosophy of geology that rewrites natural and human history from the broader perspective of movement, Thomas Nail provides a new materialist, kinetic ethics of the Earth that speaks to this moment.

Climate change and other ecological disruptions challenge us to reconsider the deep history of minerals, atmosphere, plants, and animals and take a more process-oriented perspective that sees humanity as part of the larger cosmic and terrestrial drama of mobility and flow. Building upon his earlier work on the philosophy of movement, Nail argues that we should shift our biocentric emphasis on conservation in favor of expenditure, flux, and planetary diversity. Theory of the Earth urges us to rethink our ethical relationship to one another, the planet, and the cosmos at large.

About the author

Thomas Nail is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Denver. He is the author of The Figure of the Migrant (Stanford University Press, 2015) and Being and Motion (Oxford University Press, 2018).

"One of the most remarkable books I've read in some time. Thomas Nail forges a mode of materialist philosophy in conversation with recent, cross-disciplinary movements in the environmental humanities, generating a mode of thinking and theorizing that moves beyond the scale of human life."

—Claire Colebrook, Pennsylvania State University