Ecological Nature: A Non-Dualistic Concept for Rethinking Humankind’s Place in the World


This paper puts forward a concept of naturalness as an alternative to the wilderness concept, which has been criticized for problematically situating human beings outside the natural world and thus conceptually foreclosing the possibility of humans living in harmony with nature. After examining and finding inadequate two concepts of naturalness dominant in the work of environmental ethicists, namely the natural as opposed to the supernatural and the natural as opposed to the anthropogenic, the paper delineates a concept of ecological naturalness, which links naturalness to ecological normality and ecosystem health. Tracing the historical roots of this concept back to classical Aristotelian philosophy, the paper shows that a contemporary ecological version of it actually underpins the intuitive views of many current-day environmentalists and ecologists. The paper concludes that the concept of ecological naturalness is better suited than the wilderness concept to support efforts at enabling humans to inhabit the earth’s ecosystems in ecologically sustainable ways.