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356 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Despitehis generallyuncritical understanding ofAristotle, Mensch does succeed in developing a fertile conception of the 'animate subject' as 'flesh': 'embodied material that manifests the purposes of life.' Drawing not only on Aristotle but also on Kant and Husserl, Mensch outlines a theory of perception as temporalized interpretation in which objects embody themselves in goal-driven intentions. On this view, 'the world acts in and through me insofar as it imparts to me its goals.' Conversely, the knowing subject is ~oth a cause in the teleological sense of being motivated by ... goals' and is 'caused in a material, physical sense.' (Here, material causation itself involves 'laws for processes that are future directed.') Still, notwithstanding its obvious fecundity, this largely Aristotelian conception of knowing and being should have been enriched with ideas derived from other, more contemporary, thinkers- especially perplexing in this regard is the lack of any reference to Merleau-Ponty's post-Cartesian phenomenology of perception and to his later conception of la chair. The strategy of returning to Aristotle -to construct a postmodern philosophy is questionable. Equally questionable is Mensch's identification of modernity with an epistemological paradigm and, correlatively, of the postrnodem with the project of standing this paradigm on its head. Yet it must also be said that Knowing and Being is the imposing project of a thinker who has long engaged in philosophical thinking. This may explain why Mensch's prose is so lucid; his book is a pleasure to read. In addition, Mensch raises thorny philosophical problems to which he offers plausible responses worthy of serious consideration. The ethical implications of his Peripatetic conception have a distinctly contemporary ring. Once the modernist paradigm has been reversed, the earth becomes what it is: 'part of ourselves insofar as our selfhood is established through our interactions with it ... [I]t is the place of embodiment, is "flesh" in a preeminent sense.' Whether or not it constitutes a postmodem solution to the problems of modemity1 Mensch's work deserves independent recognition for its farreaching attempt to resolve complex philosophical issues. (DEBORAH cooK) Alex Wellington, Allan Greenbaum and Wesley Cragg, editors. Canadian Issues in Environmmtal Ethics Broadview Press. x, 406. $24.95 'Think globally, act locally' is one of the slogans of the environmental movement. Why then an anthology of thoughts by Canadian authors primarily about Canadian issues? There are good reasons. First, the earth's envirorunent is comprised of many particular environments that interact. Without an understanding of the particulars there can be no understanding of the whole. The tropical rain forest in Brazil is different from the boreal forest thatpartly comprises Canada's environment. Second, environmental ethics must take into acconnt the human activities and institutions - HUMANITIES 357 culture, history, economics and politics- that vary with place and time. Thought without action may be impotent, but local action without local thought will be blind. This book is a unique Canadian reader for courses that touch upon environmental ethics. At first reading, I was tempted to coin a new collective noun: a confusion of ideas. A student, or a general reader for that matter, could come away from the book overwhelmed by a welter of issues and a plethora of theoretical perspectives. It deals with, for instance, forestry, fishing, mining, agriculture, hunting, energy, land use, endangered species, and aboriginal peoples, and does so from perspectives ranging from traditional deontological and utilitarian approaches to the arcana of ecosophy (deep ecology) and ecofeminism. Fortunately, there is a good introduction that gives an architectonic to the subject matter. It outlines three phases in the development of applied environmental ethics, and gives a rationale for the book's chapter organization, largely in terms of Canadian political economy and the need for regional representation. I think this introduction :indispensable for the student or general reader. The selected bibliography is most welcome, as are the extensive references in the individual articles. Throughout the book there is a leitmotif of dissatisfaction with the dominant paradigm used by governments, envirorunental assessment boards, etc., for making decisions. Roughly, this view a) takes only human beings to be morally considerable, b) assumes a form of value relativism (the good is reduced to mere consumer...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 356-358
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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