The Harvard Review of Philosophy

Volume 29, 2022

Philosophy and the Environment

Michael MarderOrcid-ID
Pages 21-32

Is a Philosophy of Nature Still Tenable?

This article contemplates the possibility of a philosophy of nature in and for the twenty-first century. Following an examination of the contemporary critiques of the concept of nature, I propose an alternative approach, inspired by Heraclitus and Friedrich Schelling, according to which nature is not an archaic category, but something yet to come, to be invented and reinvented. At the same time, I argue that the irreducible futurity of nature needs to be set in the context of the current global destruction of ecosystems, which indicates the exhaustion of the fecundity and self-renewal that are at the core of the future-oriented conception of nature as an activity. Hence, whatever is yet to come as far as nature is concerned ought to be anticipated in light of what I call “finite finitude,” implying an ethics that is distinct from the ideologies of infinite renewability.