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Elemental Philosophy
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summary
Explores the ancient and perennial notion of the four elements as environmental ideas. Bachelard called them “the hormones of the imagination.” Hegel observed that, “through the four elements we have the elevation of sensuous ideas into thought.” Earth, air, fire, and water are explored as both philosophical ideas and environmental issues associated with their classical and perennial conceptions. David Macauley embarks upon a wide-ranging discussion of their initial appearance in ancient Greek thought as mythic forces or scientific principles to their recent reemergence within contemporary continental philosophy as a means for understanding landscape and language, poetry and place, the body and the body politic. In so doing, he shows the importance of elemental thinking for comprehending and responding to ecological problems. In tracing changing views of the four elements through the history of ideas, Macauley generates a new vocabulary for and a fresh vision of the environment while engaging the elemental world directly with reflections on their various manifestations.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xiii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xv-xvi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-10
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  1. Part I: Elemental Encounters and Ideas
  2. pp. 11-12
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  1. 1. Philosophy’s Forgotten Four
  2. pp. 13-50
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  1. Interstice: Stone
  2. pp. 51-58
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  1. 2. The Topology of the Elemental Environment
  2. pp. 59-92
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  1. Interstice: Wood
  2. pp. 93-100
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  1. Part II. Elemental Theories
  2. pp. 101-102
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  1. 3. The Flowering of Ecological Roots Empedocles’ Elemental Thought
  2. pp. 103-136
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  1. Interstice: Ice and Snow
  2. pp. 137-142
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  1. 4. Plato’s Chora-graphy of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water
  2. pp. 143-172
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  1. Interstice: Cloud
  2. pp. 173-178
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  1. 5. The Place of the Elements and the Elements of Place: Aristotle’s Natural Household
  2. pp. 179-200
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  1. Interstice: Heat and Cold
  2. pp. 201-208
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  1. 6. The Economy and Ecology of the Aristotelian Elements
  2. pp. 209-242
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  1. Interstice: Light and Shadow
  2. pp. 243-252
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  1. Part III. Elemental Worlds
  2. pp. 253-254
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  1. 7. Domestication of the Elements
  2. pp. 255-282
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  1. Interstice: Night
  2. pp. 283-292
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  1. 8. In Touch With the Sensuous World: The Reclamation of the Elemental in Continental Philosophy
  2. pp. 293-326
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  1. Interstice: Space
  2. pp. 327-332
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  1. 9. Revaluing Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: Elemental Beauty, Ecological Duty, and Environmental Policy
  2. pp. 333-356
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 357-418
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 419-433
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