Environmental Philosophy

Volume 5, Issue 1, Spring 2008

Eleanor D. Helms
Pages 23-36

Language and Responsibility
The Possibilities and Problems of Poetic Thinking for Environmental Philosophy

There is a sense in which poetry can re-inscribe humans in their natural surroundings, but language—even poetic language—is also always problematic. In conversation with and in response to recent works by David Abram, I will delineate at least two ways in which poetic language separates and distinguishes humans from nature. I also argue for the importance of what is implicit or invisible (as opposed to tangible and sensuous). Language is a mode of human responsibility for the world, not just a sign or result of being part of it.