Volume 40, Issue 1, Fall/Winter 2008/2009
On Alienation from Life
A Response to Wendell Kisner’s “A Species-Based Environmental Ethic in Hegel’s Logic of Life”
In this article I respond to Wendell Kisner’s Hegelian environmental ethic. Kisner argues that because life is ontologically irreducible to mechanism it is rational to treat life not merely as a means to human purposes but as an end in itself. I argue that had Hegel consistently adhered to this position, he would have had to argue that the modern social world objectively alienates human beings from their rational selves. But Hegel in fact sees this social world as a home for rational humanity. This is because Hegel believes life is ontologically higher than mechanism but ontologically lower than human mind. For Hegel therefore, minded beings may use life for their own self-objectification and self-realisation.