‘Everything Changes in Nature’: Kropotkin’s Process Philosophy

Anarchist Studies - ISSN 2633-8270
Volume 31 Number 2 (2023)

‘Everything Changes in Nature’: Kropotkin’s Process Philosophy
Ole Martin Sandberg pages 16-33
DOI: 10.3898/AS.31.2.01


A frequent misunderstanding about Peter Kropotkin, and anarchism more generally, is that by emphasising mutual aid as a factor of evolution and history, he advocates a view of human nature as essentially benign. This essay aims to disprove that claim by showing that Kropotkin explicitly rejects any notion of a fixed human essence and insists that we are composed of a multitude of autonomous but interacting faculties with no authentic or essential centre. This view of the human psyche reflects his view of the world in general: for Kropotkin, philosophy and science were not about finding universal mechanisms and eternal substances. Instead, he advances a view of the world that can only be described as process-thinking: a philosophical tendency that prioritises difference over identity and change over stability. Kropotkin’s process ontology also informs his view of politics, which rejects the idea of a harmonious social end state free of conflict and embraces diversity as a factor that promotes progress and movement. Kropotkin’s process philosophy has relevance to debates in such diverse fields as philosophy and metaphysics, political and social theory, and biology and ecology.

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To cite this article
Ole Martin Sandberg (2023) ‘Everything Changes in Nature’: Kropotkin’s Process Philosophy, Anarchist Studies, 31(2), 16-33. https://doi.org/10.3898/AS.31.2.01

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