From Mastery to Mystery
A Phenomenological Foundation for an Environmental Ethic
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Ohio University Press
Series: Series in Continental Thought
Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication
Expressing one’s gratitude to all the individuals who have contributed in some capacity to the completion of any project of this length is a somewhat daunting task. Rather than open the usual Pandora’s box of acknowledgment that accompanies the production of a book, I would like to recognize as a group all those who have discussed this project with me throughout its...
Introduction: The Question of Nature
In the quotes above, Leopold and Casey agree upon a little-explored insight: environmentalism begins with a feeling. For some, this sentiment is an intuition that there is something amiss with how many human beings currently live within and interact with nature. For others, it is an emotional connection to a place or an acknowledgment that many current environmental...
1: The Promise of a Common World
“To have no master at all”: such is the promise of the common world in the work of Bruno Latour. Living as we do under all sorts of transcendent authorities, even if it remains unrecognized that such is the case, this promise is a long way off. One may even wonder if an existence without such authority is possible. After all, without some higher values to guide decision making, it...
2: Science, Technology and the Closure of Nature
While Heidegger is usually viewed as a severe critic of technology, there is another dimension to his thoughts about it that are expressed in the quote above: by remaining open to what we can learn from the meaning of our technological relations to the world, we learn something of the essential mysteriousness of being. There is no denying that Heidegger is a critic of the technological...
3: The Opening of the Earth
If we are to turn aside the view of nature as a standing-reserve of energy, as the vast majority of environmentalist literature today professes a desire to do, the suggestion received from Heidegger via his analysis of technology and science is that the originary strife that holds the world open must be renewed and we must...
4: Merleau-Ponty and Nature as the Common World
From Merleau-Ponty’s very first articulation of his philosophy, the central question of his thought has been the human relationship with nature, and from the very beginning he has opposed the conception of nature that has been argued against throughout this book. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy is marked by the attempt to see in every formalization of experience some grain...
Conclusion: Nature’s Norms
It would be a rather unsatisfying conclusion to this book if, as the end of the preceding chapter suggests, the conception of nature we have taken such pains to develop necessarily led to quietism with respect to what constitutes a good common world. After all, the foundation for an environmental ethic should be able to provide some form of guidance with regard to how to behave...