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Second Nature

Rethinking the Natural through Politics

Crina Archer

Publication Year: 2013

These essays collected here, by both eminent and emerging scholars, engage interlocutors from Machiavelli to Arendt. Individually, they contribute compelling readings of important political thinkers and add fresh insights to debates in areas such as environmentalism and human rights. Together, the volume issues a call to think anew about nature, not only as a traditional concept that should be deconstructed or affirmed, but also as a site of human political activity and struggle worthy of sustained theoretical attention.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: Politics on the Terrain of Second Nature

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pp. 1-25

The late twentieth century and early twenty-first century have seen a sea change in political theorists’ understanding of “nature.” While much prior Western political thought invoked “nature” as a normative standard or ground for affirming or criticizing political arrangements, political theorists today seldom assume that nature can or should dictate politics....

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Chapter 1 Necessity and Fortune:Machiavelli’s Politics of Nature

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pp. 26-45

In the famous letter to Vettori, dated December 10, 1513, where Machiavelli announces the completion of his “opusculo” about principalities, he describes it as a study of the “art of the state” (arte dello stato; CW, 929–930).1 Since chapter 19 of The Prince juxtaposes arte and natura, a careful reader may well conjecture that Machiavelli considers the art of the state—or...

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Chapter 2 Burning the Dead and the Ways of Nature

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pp. 46-60

In 1907, a brilliant twenty-six-year-old French sociologist and student of Emile Durkheim—Robert Hertz—published a hugely influential paper that made clear that there were two kinds of dead: one in nature, the other in culture.1 (He himself died in the trenches of the Great War eight years later.) On the one hand, there are the dead as bodies: fl esh, soon to putrefy, ...

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Chapter 3 Corpses for Kilowatts?: Mourning, Justice,Burial, and the Ends of Humanism

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pp. 61-82

What is wrong with this?1 “In Durham, England, corpses will soon be used to generate electricity. A crematorium is installing turbines in its burners that will convert waste heat from the combustion of each corpse into as much as 150 kilowatt-hours of juice—enough to power 1,500 televisions for an hour.”2 The idea “makes cremation much greener by utilizing its ...

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Chapter 4 The “Unnatural Growth of the Natural”:Reconsidering Nature and Artifice in the Context of Biotechnology

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pp. 83-103

There is a deep-seated anxiety that attends the blurring of this distinction between nature and artifi ce. For Jürgen Habermas, in his The Future of Human Nature, it is merely “unsettling.” Leon Kass argues that this ambiguity should “offend,” “repel,” and “repulse” us “because we intuit and feel, immediately and without argument, the violation of things that we...

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Chapter 5 Potentialities of Second Nature: Agamben on Human Rights

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pp. 104-126

Human rights have become a predominant discourse in global politics, particularly in the post–Cold War era, in addressing various questions of injustice. If this transformation has been welcomed by various scholars who identify it with the promise of a postnational, transnational, or cosmopolitan future,1 it has also become the target of several critics...

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Chapter 6 The Utopian Content of Reification: Adorno’s Critical Social Theory of Nature

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pp. 127-148

In the afterword to the second German edition of The Critique of Power, Axel Honneth notes how renewed interest in the critical theory of Theodor W. Adorno is motivated in part by the conviction that Adorno’s later writings “provide the best means for comprehending the conditions for a noninstrumental relation to inner and outer nature.”1 One of Adorno’s ...

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Chapter 7 From Nature to Matter

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pp. 149-160

Shortly after Earth Day, 1975, and inspired by Henry Thoreau’s Walden, E. F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Murray Bookchin’s Post-Scarcity Anarchism, and Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons,” I became an environmentalist.1 I pursued that identity for thirty years or so. But now I’m considering becoming a materialist when I grow up. Not a historical materialist, but a more animistic or at least less ...


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pp. 161-202


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pp. 203-204


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pp. 205-216

E-ISBN-13: 9780823251438
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823251414
Print-ISBN-10: 0823251411

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth

OCLC Number: 846997963
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Second Nature

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Subject Headings

  • Human ecology -- Political aspects.
  • Nature -- Political aspects.
  • Human ecology -- Philosophy.
  • Environmentalism -- Philosophy.
  • Philosophy of nature.
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