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61. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Arnold Berleant Some Questions for Ecological Aesthetics
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Ecology has become a popular conceptual model in numerous fields of inquiry and it seems especially appropriate for environmental philosophy. Apart from its literal employment in biology, ecology has served as a useful metaphor that captures the interdependence of factors in a field of research. At the same time as ecology is suggestive, it cannot be followed literally or blindly. This paper considers the appropriateness of the uses to which ecology has been put in some recent discussions of architectural and environmental aesthetics, and develops a critique of the differing ecological aesthetics of Jusuck Koh and Xiangzhan Cheng.
62. 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.
63. 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.
64. 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.
65. 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.
66. 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.
67. 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.
68. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Joseph Masco The Six Extinctions: Visualizing Planetary Ecological Crisis Today
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This article examines the visualization strategies informing public understandings of planetary scale ecological crisis. Working with scientific visualizations as well as the Suicide Narcissus art exhibition, it interrogates the inherent problems in conveying extinction as a process and future potential. This essay ultimately considers the psychosocial tensions inherent in contemplating collective death.
69. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Monika Bakke Art and Metabolic Force in Deep Time Environments
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Contemporary art practices which take into consideration both bio­logical and geological perspectives on the environment offer an inspiring contribution to the growing geological awareness in the humanities. By drawing attention to the role of metabolic forces in evolution, including inorganic activity, artists enquire into the geological past and future of the earth and beyond. Their work suggests that in a time of environmental crisis, it is particularly important to design future metabolic networks for ourselves and non-human others aimed not only at waste reduction and energy efficiency, but also prioritizing multispecies alliances beyond the biological.
70. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Sabine Höhler Survival: Mars Fiction and Experiments with Life on Earth
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This paper explores examples of Mars fiction of “terraforming”—of creating Earth-like environments in space—against the background of the Earth’s environmental degradation and restoration. Visions of Mars settlement offered an escape route for a threatened humanity and a blueprint for the eco-technological recreation of the Earth’s environment. This paper aims to outline the Anthropocene as an epoch that not only compromised the Earth but also essentially transformed the understanding of Earthly life to a minimalist principle of survival through infinite metabolic conversions. This understanding of immortality conjoined images of recreation and creation, of paradisiacal pasts and eco-technological futures.
71. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Elaine Gan An Unintended Race: Miracle Rice and the Green Revolution
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Engineered for fast harvests and high yields through chemicals, miracle rice triggered a green revolution throughout Southeast Asia and one of the largest anthropogenic disturbances to the nitrogen cycle in the twentieth century. This article considers the green revolution as an event of more-than-human temporalities, an aleatory formation of vegetal, animal, chemical, and human coordinations that has become a world-changing conjuncture. I present the formation as an unintended race—that is, an interplay of differential speeds. I offer a countermodernist account of structural transformation, doing history otherwise, to challenge anthropocentric narratives of progress and call attention to contingent multispecies coordinations that drive modernity’s acceleration.
72. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Dolly Jørgensen Endling, the Power of the Last in an Extinction-Prone World
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In April 1996, two men working at a convalescent center wrote a letter to the journal Nature proposing that a new word be adopted to designate a person who is the last in the lineage: endling. This had come up because of patients who were dying and thought of themselves as the last of their family line. The word was not picked up in medical circles. But, in 2001, when the National Museum of Australia (NMA) opened its doors, it featured a gallery called Tangled Destinies and endling reappeared. On the wall facing a case with a thylacine specimen was written: Endling (n.) The last surviving individual of a species of animal or plant. Since that appearance, the word endling has slowly seeped into popular culture, appearing in symphonic music, performance art, science fiction stories, comics, and other art works. This paper examines the cultural power of the concept of endling as the last of a species and the history of its mobilization in a world facing extinction around every corner.
73. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Emily Thew Narcissistic Attachments: A Melancholic Reading of De-Extinction Projects
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This essay examines the relationship between human and non­human animals in the context of de-extinction projects. Following van Dooren and Rose’s (2015) suggestion that de-extinction projects are reluctant to engage with mourning work, I argue that these scientific endeavours can be understood as inherently melancholic. In reading them as such, I focus on the concepts of identification and ambivalence central to Freud’s theorisation of melancholia, and argue that looking at these key ideas in relation to de-extinction reveals the way that notions of human exceptionalism can be problematized by a psychoanalytic reading of these projects.
74. 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.
75. 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.
76. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Judy Spark Visibility Sometimes Wandering and Sometimes Reassembled: On Being in Rain
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If we attend to things only in terms of their bearing on our own projects then our experience of them will be filtered through their compatibility or incompatibility with those aims. This essay is about the experience of rain in the northern latitudes and the work is built around a phenomenological description that relies on accounts of direct experience which are then considered through Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s conception of flesh. In thinking through the phenomenon in this way, the overlapping nature of interior and exterior “reality” (and thereby human and world) can be foregrounded and the notion of a dichotomy between these realms, undermined.
77. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Simon Lumsden Veganism, Normative Change, and Second Nature
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This paper draws on the account of second nature in Aristotle, Dewey and Hegel to examine the way in which norms become embodied. It discusses the implications of this for both the authority of norms and how they can be changed. Using the example of veganism it argues that changing norms requires more than just good reasons. The appreciation of the role of second nature in culture allows us to: firstly, better conceive the difficulty and resistance of individuals to changing norms because of the material resilience of norms, habits and customs in a culture. Secondly, it argues that the effective adoption of a new norm such as veganism or the behavioral change necessary to respond to climate change, requires not just more good reasons but the creation of material pathways in the culture in which those revised norms can be inhabited.
78. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Mihnea Tanasescu Responsibility and the Ethics of Ecological Restoration
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This paper argues that the concept of responsibility can and should ground an ethics of ecological restoration. It starts with William Jordan’s concept of restoration, namely the creation of mutually beneficial human-nature relationships. It builds a concept of responsibility using the works of Hans Jonas and Martin Drenthen, understood as a correlate of our technological capacity, as well as a relationship to the possibility of meaningfulness today and in the indefinite future. It is argued that we are responsible in a deep sense for engaging in projects of restoration in order to ensure the survival of embodied meaningfulness in the world.
79. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Oli Stephano Spinoza, Ecology, and Immanent Ethics: Beside Moral Considerability
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This paper develops an immanent ecological ethics that locates human flourishing within sustaining ecological relationships. I outline the features of an immanent ethics drawn from Spinoza, and indicate how this model addresses gaps left by approaches based in moral considerability. I argue that an immanent ecological ethics provides unique resources for contesting anthropogenic harm, by 1) shifting the focus from what qualifies as a moral subject to what bodies can or cannot do under particular relations, 2) emphasizing the constitutive role of interaction and interdependence in ecosystemic existence, and 3) extending ethical regard to ecologically-ramified scales.
80. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Kaitlyn Creasy Environmental Nihilism: Reading Nietzsche against New Conservationism
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This article interprets David E. Storey’s foundation of an environmental ethic on Nietzsche’s philosophy of life as a version of new conservationism. Critically examining Storey’s various claims, the article demonstrates potentially problematic aspects of the new conservationist project. In order to both question Storey’s interpretation of a Nietzschean philosophy of life and problematize the new conservationist understanding of nature, this article returns to the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. In particular, it argues from a Nietzschean perspective that the new conservationist projection of human teleology and values onto wild nature and non-human life results in a nihilistic conception of wild nature.