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  • Naturalizing Heidegger: His Confrontation with Nietzsche, His Contributions to Environmental Philosophy by David E. Storey
  • Kaitlyn Creasy
David E. Storey, Naturalizing Heidegger: His Confrontation with Nietzsche, His Contributions to Environmental Philosophy
Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015. 276 pp.
isbn: 9781438454832. Hardcover, $85.00.

It seems strange, on first thought, that anyone might look to Nietzsche to found an environmental ethic. In GS, he claims that “Whatever has value in the current world, has it not in itself, from nature—nature is always [End Page 144] valueless” (GS 301), and he generally lauds the natural strength and nobility manifested in the will to power’s domination and exploitation of resources (BGE 259; KSA 12:7[25]; KSA 12:9[139]). Yet in Naturalizing Heidegger, David E. Storey crafts an educative and compelling argument geared toward environmental philosophers who have yet to consider the relevance of Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s philosophies of life for environmental ethics. In particular, Storey argues that a non-mechanistic and non-anthropocentric naturalism inspired both by Heidegger’s early attempts at an ontology of life and by Nietzsche’s sense of the world as will to power serves as the best philosophical foundation available for an environmental ethic, since it shows how nature possesses value independent of human valuation and projection.

Storey’s text can be roughly divided into four sections: an introduction to Heidegger’s influence on environmental philosophy; an extended discussion of life and nature in Heidegger’s thought; an interpretation of Nietzsche’s will to power and its usefulness for supplementing Heidegger’s early philosophy; and a section in which Storey (very) briefly outlines Nietzsche’s “hierarchical biocentrism” and its promise for environmental ethics.

Storey dedicates his first chapter to early criticisms of the potential use of Heidegger’s thought for environmental ethics made by Karl Löwith and Hans Jonas and to the appropriation of Heidegger’s later thought by deep ecology and eco-phenomenology. According to Storey, Löwith and Jonas rightly criticize the anthropocentrism of Heidegger’s late view of nature, an anthropocentrism that prevents it from serving as a resource for deep ecological or eco-phenomenological frameworks.

In chapters 2 through 7, Storey provides an extended chronological exegesis of Heidegger’s thoughts on nature, life, and nihilism. In the second chapter, he discusses the twin influences of Aristotle and Jakob von Uexküll on Heidegger’s early ontology of life. Here Storey draws on Heidegger’s lectures and writings on Aristotle from the 1920s to show that he employs various Aristotelian concepts—in particular, anima and dynamis—to construct a philosophy of life that recognizes the continuity of human and nonhuman life. Regarding the immense influence of Uexküll, Storey shows how Heidegger’s interpretation of anima as “the power or potential for comportment toward a world [and] a kind of intentionality” (42) draws on Uexküll’s understanding of the co-constitutive relationship between an organism and its environment. [End Page 145]

The third chapter traces the development of Heidegger’s thoughts on nature in his 1929 text, Being and Time. Although nature shows up in human engagement primarily as a resource to be studied and drawn upon for human use, it also appears as an “incomprehensible kind of being that can only be described metaphorically, aesthetically, and poetically” (78). According to Storey, these two different ways of understanding nature lead to two diverging paths in Heidegger’s thinking: one that sees human beings and the natural world as continuous, and one that leads to a view of nature and nonhuman life as radically other to human life.

In the fourth chapter, Storey demonstrates that Heidegger temporarily takes the former path in his 1929–30 lecture course, Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, where he attempts to conceive of “humans as ontologically continuous with nature and natural processes such as evolution” (79). In the fifth and sixth chapters, Storey then describes how Heidegger later abandons this avenue of thought in favor of a view that sees nature as something fundamentally unknowable, unintelligible, and radically other. Ultimately, Storey claims, Heidegger’s mature view unwittingly reinscribes the Kantian divide between objective and sublime nature, divorcing human beings...


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