Territory and history: the justification of detachment from the land as a stage in the development of human agency

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Toffolutti, Matteo
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University College Cork
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The aim of this thesis is to research the ontology of human agency that informs the structure of most contemporary theories of territorial rights. Rather than establishing a new normative approach to the issue of the allocation of territories to subjects, my work focuses on a descriptive conceptual analysis of the origin of our need to normatively justify attachment to the land. The main questions I seek to answer are: why do we feel the need to solve the issue of our relationship with the land from a normative standpoint? Can the very fact that such relationship appears to us as a problem enlighten us as to the (im)possibility of solving it? My approach to answering these questions moves from an examination of what it means to be agents who are embedded in the outside world and who seek to live through the outside by embedding it in their activity as they gain autonomy from it. I then show that, in their pursuit of autonomy, agents become part of a historical movement away from the outside. They therefore seek to justify not their attachment to the land, but their detachment from it. As they shift from being creatures shaped by the land to being creators of themselves by shaping the land, agents lose their immediate connection with the outside, which they seek to substitute with normative considerations. Finally, I develop a philosophy of history to prove the inevitability and necessity of this process of detachment, showing why we cannot reverse it, and arguing that the problem of detachment is not for us to solve, but to contemplate as a fundamental and necessary stage in our development as agents. This makes the field of territorial rights philosophically emblematic in its ontological/historical implications even more than from an immediately practical standpoint.
Agency , Philosophy of history , Territorial rights , Group agency , Extended mind , Detachment , Selfhood , Substratum theory , Bundle theory
Toffolutti, M. 2021. Territory and history: the justification of detachment from the land as a stage in the development of human agency. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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