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201. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Yogi Hale Hendlin From Terra Nullius to Terra Communis: Reconsidering Wild Land in an Era of Conservation and Indigenous Rights
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This article argues that understanding “wild” land as terra nullius (“land belonging to no one”) emerged during historical colonialism, entered international law, and became entrenched in national constitutions and cultural mores around the world. This has perpetuated an unsustainable and unjust human relationship to land no longer tenable in the post-Lockean era of land scarcity and ecological degradation. Environmental conservation, by valuing wild lands, challenges the terra nullius assumption of the vulnerability of unused lands to encroachment, while indigenous groups reasserting their rights to communal territories likewise contest individual property rights. South American case studies illustrate routinized terra nullius prejudices.
202. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Brendan Mahoney Heidegger and the Art of Technology: A Response to Eric Katz
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This article critiques Eric Katz’s claim that technology and artifacts are intrinsically anthropocentric, and thus essentially aimed at controlling and dominating nature. Drawing on Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of technology, I argue Katz’s position is founded on a narrow ‘means-end’ concept of technology. Building on Heidegger’s work, I propose rethinking technology through the broader ancient Greek concept of techne. I then claim the concept of techne enables us to develop an understanding of technology that is not intrinsically anthropocentric and dominating. Finally, I argue an analysis of art provides a model for this non-anthropocentric concept of technology.
203. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Michael Marder For a Phytocentrism to Come
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The present essay formulates a phytocentric alternative to the biocentric and zoocentric critiques of anthropocentrism. Treating phuton—the Greek for “plant,” also meaning “growing being”—as a concrete entry point into the world of phusis (nature), I situate the intersecting trajectories and (cross-species, cross-kingdoms) communities of growth at the center of environmental theory and praxis. I explore the potential of phytocentrism for the “greening” of human consciousness brought back to its vegetal roots, as well as for tackling issues related, among others, to the use of biotechnologies and dietary ethics.
204. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Bryan E. Bannon Resisting the Domination of Nature: Regarding Time as an Ethical Concept
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This essay uses Foucault’s views on time and ethics in order to reconceptualize the domination of nature in terms of the imposition of an inflexible order upon a place rather than in the more conventional sense in environmental studies of reducing nature to a use object for humanity. I then propose a means of resisting that domination by examining how friendship might be employed as an ethical ideal in our relationship to nature.
205. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Andrew Tyler Johnson Is Organic Life “Existential”?: Reflections on the Biophenomenologies of Hans Jonas and Early Heidegger
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In this paper I outline Hans Jonas’s thesis of the “existential” character of biological life and compare it with statements made by the early Heidegger concerning the essential enworldedness of all living beings. I then critically examine this thesis in the light of Heidegger’s own later refutation of his views and consequent reversal of his former position on life. I argue that while both thinkers are correct to attribute a radical openness to organic life as such, Heidegger is correct is restricting the existential dimension to specifically human life given certain logical constraints built into the concept of existence itself.
206. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Henry Dicks Aldo Leopold and the Ecological Imaginary: The Balance, the Pyramid, and the Round River
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Aldo Leopold accorded great significance to the images he used to describe both the land and humankind’s relation to it. Focusing on three key images of Leopold’s “ecological imaginary”—the balance, the pyramid, and the round river—this article argues that the most profound of these is the round river. Contrasting this image with James Lovelock’s portrayal of the earth as Gaia, it further argues that Leopold’s round river can be interpreted as a contemporary, ecological reworking of the primordial, Homeric experience of Being, according to which the foundation of the world is a round river, Oceanus.
207. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Donald S. Maier, Jeffrey A. Lockwood Conservation as Picking up Trash in Nature
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This essay explores a previously unexplored suggestion for combining consideration of aesthetics with considerations of vice and virtue to justify, not merely claims about nature’s beauty or its preservation, but landscape-transforming conservation projects. Its discussion is not univocal. On the one hand, it suggests that vices associated with humans assisting a creature’s journey to a new landscape make that organism’s presence on that landscape ugly. According to this suggestion, the creature may be regarded as trash, which would be virtuous to remove. On the other hand, it worries that the argument ultimately traces this circle: It is wrong to fail to remove the creature because this failure would be blameworthy; and failure to remove would be blameworthy because wrong.
208. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Beever An Ecological Turn in American Indian Environmental Ethics
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In this paper I argue that, instead of standing as an exemplar of contemporary environmentalism, North American Indian voices on the environment offer insights concerning ecological relationships that can be brought to bear on theories of environmental value and the politics of environmentalism. I argue that environmentally orthodox representations of Native views are further complicated by the metaphysics of local ecological knowledge. I then argue that moral ecologism, a normative view focused on inter­dependence throughout the living world and evidenced by contemporary American Indian voices, can help align traditional environmentalism with the contemporary scientific understanding of ecological relationships.
209. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Abigail Levin Zoo Animals as Specimens, Zoo Animals as Friends: The Life and Death of Marius the Giraffe
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The international protest surrounding the Copenhagen Zoo’s recent decision to kill a healthy giraffe in the name of population management reveals a deep moral tension between contemporary zoological display practices—which induce zoo-goers to view certain animals as individuals, quasi-persons, or friends—and the traditional objectives of zoos, which ask us only to view animals as specimens. I argue that these zoological display practices give rise to moral obligations on the part of zoos to their visitors, and thus ground indirect duties on behalf of zoos to their animals. I conclude that zoos might take on interspecies friendship as a new zoological objective.
210. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Roger Paden Nature, Disorder, and Tragedy: Towards an Evolutionary Aesthetic
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This paper outlines a normative/philosophical theory of evolutionary aesthetics, one that differs substantially from existing explanatory/psychological theories, such as Dutton’s. This evolutionary theory is based on Carlson’s scientific cognitivism, but differs in that it is based on evolutionary rather than ecological theory. After offering a short account of Carlson’s theory, I distinguish it from a normative evolutionary aesthetics. I then explore an historically important normative/philosophical theory of the aesthetics of nature that is consistent with Darwin’s theory of natural selection; namely, the theory of the picturesque. Finally, after summarizing Nietzsche’s early theory of tragedy, I discuss how some of his ideas might be incorporated into an evolutionary aesthetics.
211. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Michael Marder The Sense of Seeds, or Seminal Events
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In this text, I suggest that we approach the theme of “the event” through vegetal processes, concepts, and metaphors. Mediated through plant life, the event unfolds along three axes: 1) that of excrescence, or the out-growth, which is how plants appear in the world; 2) that of expectation, or the out-look, waiting for germination and ultimately for fruition; and 3) that of the exception, or the out-take, which extracts the seed from the closed circuit of potentiality and actuality, committing it to chance. The nascent model I propose sheds light on our animalist prejudices hidden in ostensibly abstract thought and offers a fresh starting point for postmetaphysical ontology.
212. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Susan NoorMohammadi The Role of Poetic Image in Gaston Bachelard’s Contribution to Architecture: The Enquiry into an Educational Approach in Architecture
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This paper addresses Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenology of imagination. In his book The Poetics of Space, Bachelard stresses two major elements that are significant in the creation of real images: imagination and memory. Throughout The Poetics of Space, he speaks explicitly of houses of memory and dreams and homes of childhood. However Bachelard does not speak directly of architecture, his contribution to architecture needs to be analyzed and interpreted precisely. This objective is accomplished by arguing for two basic concepts in Bachelard’s thought: the development of the concept of meaning, and recourse to the function of inhabiting. Further, the knowledge gaps in the link between inhabitation and architecture are addressed through a proposal to implicate the phenomenology of imagination in architectural education.
213. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Byron Williston The Sublime Anthropocene
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In the Anthropocene, humanity has been forced to a self-critical reflection on its place in the natural order. A neglected tool for understanding this is the sublime. Sublime experience opens us up to encounters with ‘formless’ nature at the same time as we recognize the inevitability of imprinting our purposes on nature. In other words, it is constituted by just the sort of self-critical stance towards our place in nature that I identify as the hallmark of the Anthropocene ‘collision’ between human and earth histories.
214. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
David Maggs, John Robinson Recalibrating the Anthropocene: Sustainability in an Imaginary World
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Geologically speaking, the Anthropocene marks the end of the Holocene period, a time of great planetary stability. Conceptually speaking, the Anthropocene marks the end of the Modernist period, a time of great epistemic stability. As scientific framings of sustainability strain under anthro­pocenic realities, reconceptualizing sustainability may be necessary. By positioning human/nature relations beyond Modernist dichotomies under­pinning scientific discourse, the implications of the Anthropocene shift from methodological to ontological, dislodging sustainability from its traditional scientific foundations. To this, we propose new stability through four interlinked approaches to sustainability’s complex challenges, offering a framework for thought and action beyond Modernist framings of sustainability and opening essential roles to often-marginalized interpretive social sciences and humanities.
215. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Brendan Mahoney The Virtue of Burden and Limits of Gelassenheit: The Complex Case for Heideggerian Environmental Ethics
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Since the 1980s, numerous scholars have applied the thought of Heidegger to environmental ethics—in particular, his critique of modern technology and his concept of ‘releasement.’ In this paper, I argue that these are an insufficient foundation for environmental ethics because they overlook a violence and destructiveness that is inextricable from our finite existence. Despite this critique, I claim that Heidegger’s analyses of violence in the 1930s and guilt in Being and Time can address some of these insufficiencies. To further develop the ethical potential of his philosophy, I bring it into dialogue with environmental virtue ethics.
216. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Jonathan Beever, Nicolae Morar Bioethics and the Challenge of the Ecological Individual
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Questions of individuality are traditionally predicated upon recognizing discrete entities whose behavior can be measured and whose value and agency can be meaningfully ascribed. We consider a series of challenges to the metaphysical concept of individuality as the ground of the self. We argue that an ecological conception of individuality renders ascriptions of autonomy to selves highly improbable. We find conceptual resources in the work of environmental philosopher Arne Naess, whose distinction between shallow and deep responses helps us rethink the notion of individuality and, thus, assess whether the conceptual and normative coherence of human autonomy could, at least partially, be salvaged.
217. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Vincent Blok Biomimicry and the Materiality of Ecological Technology and Innovation: Toward a Natural Model of Nature
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In this paper, we reflect on the concept of nature that is presupposed in biomimetic approaches to technology and innovation. Because current practices of biomimicry presuppose a technological model of nature, it is questionable whether its claim of being a more ecosystem friendly approach to technology and innovation is justified. In order to maintain the potentiality of biomimicry as ecological innovation, we explore an alternative to this technological model of nature. To this end, we reflect on the materiality of natural systems and explore a natural model of nature, which is found in the responsive conativity of matter. This natural model of nature enables us to conceptualize biomimicry as conative responsiveness to the conativity of the biosphere.
218. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Nathan Kowalsky Towards an Ethic of Animal Difference
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Extending ethical considerability to animals consistently takes the form of imperialism: progressing outward from the core of human morality, it incorporates only those animals deemed relevantly similar to humans while rejecting or reforming those lifeforms which are not. I develop an ethic of animal treatment premised on the species difference of undomesticated animals, which has the potential to reunite not only animal and environmental ethics, but environmental and interhuman ethics: each species has evolutionarily specified patterns of behavior for the proper treatment of members of its own species and members of other species.
219. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
John Charles Ryan That Seed Sets Time Ablaze: Vegetal Temporality in Judith Wright’s Botanical Poetics
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The time of vegetal life itself—denoted as plant-time in this article, following the work of Michael Marder—is essential to human-plant relations. Conceptualized as a multi-dimensional plexity, vegetal temporality embodies the endemic land-based seasons, rhythms, cycles, and timescales of flora in conjunction with human patterns. The contemporary poet Judith Wright invoked a time-space continuum throughout her writing as a means to convey the primordial character of Australian plants while resisting the imposition of a colonialist schema of time. Wright’s bold textualization of vegetal temporality embodies her commitment to fostering botanical ethics and locally-grounded activism on behalf of Aboriginal people and the Australian environment.
220. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Henry Dicks The Poetics of Biomimicry: The Contribution of Poetic Concepts to Philosophical Inquiry into the Biomimetic Principle of Nature as Model
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The Ancient Greeks understood both art and technology (techne) as imitation (mimesis) of Nature (physis). This article argues that the rapidly growing ecological innovation strategy known as biomimicry makes it possible for technology to leave behind the modern goal of “mastering and possessing” Nature and instead to rediscover the initial vocation it shared with art: imitating Nature. This in turn suggests a general strategy for philosophical inquiry into the biomimetic principle of “Nature as model”: the transposition of philosophical analyses of concepts associated primarily with poetics and related fields—mimesis, mimicry, translation, analogy, metaphor, etc.—into the philosophy of biomimicry.