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Environmental Philosophy

Volume 15, Issue 1, Spring 2018

Environmental Hermeneutics: In Memory of W. S. K. “Scott” Cameron

David Utsler
Pages 77-89

Is Nature Natural? And Other Linguistic Conundrums
Scott Cameron’s Hermeneutic Defense of the Concept of Nature

One of Scott Cameron’s most recent contributions to environmental hermeneutics (a field in which he was a founding scholar) was to defend the concept of nature against those who would argue that it should be abandoned in order to stave off the ecological destruction. Rather than jettison nature as an outdated and unhelpful construct, Cameron argued for its redemption based on Gadamer’s hermeneutical insights into language. In this article, I will look at Cameron’s arguments against Steven Vogel as well as particular points made against nature as a concept recently articulated by Slavoj Žižek and Timothy Morton. I will follow these arguments through, demonstrating that while the arguments can be accepted and are, indeed, accurate, the conclusion that the concept of nature be abandoned need not and should not be conceded. Finally, I will return to Cameron’s hermeneutic defense of a concept of nature and expand further on his insights and arguments. With Cameron, I conclude that the concept of nature can be redeemed. Extending Cameron’s line of reasoning, I argue that this aim is accomplished by refiguring the concept of nature with the insights offered by philosophical hermeneutics.

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