Environmental Philosophy

Volume 9, Issue 2, Fall 2012

Nicholas Mowad
Pages 47-66

The Natural World of Spirit
Hegel on the Value of Nature

Hegel provides a previously unnoticed foundation for an environmental ethic according to which the environment is not a collection of mere objects to be exploited arbitrarily. Indeed, the environment is not even merely natural, but also an expression of culture. In identifying this relation between nature and culture, Hegel anticipates “bioregionalism,” though he would also be critical of this school of thought. I conclude that Hegel offers the foundations for an environmental ethic (though not a fully articulated theory) by showing how the natural environment is part of who we are, and so ought not to be treated arbitrarily.