Environmental Philosophy

Volume 20, Issue 1, Spring 2023

Michael J. Reno
Pages 55-71

Adorno on the Possibility of Nature

I present an interpretation of Adorno’s concept of nature that prompts a confrontation with both the domination of nature and the romanticization of nature. This interpretation would situate a normative stance toward human engagement with nature not in the idealization of a pre-social or pre-human nature, but in the (missed) possibilities of past human engagements with non-human nature. Experience of art, such as Edward Burtynsky’s photography, can push us toward such a stance. This stance forces a reconsideration of the dominant form of self-preservation in most contemporary societies; nature cannot be realized until our species understands itself as a species.