/1/ – What did the Early Heidegger Think about Nature? – Paul Ennis
/2/ – Being and Counting: Speculative Materialism and the Threshold of the Given – David Lindsay
/3/ – Unthinking Nature: Transcendental Realism, Neo-Vitalism and the Metaphysical Unconscious in Outline – Michael Austin
/4/ – Philosophies of Nature in the Differentials of Iain Hamilton Grant and Ray Brassier – Himanshu Damle
/5/ – Ecological Necessity – Tom Sparrow
/6/ – Six Myths of Interdisciplinarity – Ted Toadvine
/7/ – Some Notes Towards a Philosophy of Non-Life – Timothy Morton
/8/ – Towards a Philosophy of (Dejected) Nature – Ben Woodard
/9/ – Man and Nature – Ross Wolfe
/10/ – Review of Thinking with Whitehead by Isabelle Stengers – Leon Niemoczynski
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What will the gender representation be like amongst contributors in Volume 2?
Unfortunately we only received two abstracts by women and I am hoping for more for Volume 2.
If you’re interested please submit once the cfp is up!
So there is no blind refereeing, huh?
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Is there a place for making comments on particular papers, or for asking for clarification about points in papers? I’m interested in responding to a couple of points made by Wolfe, and in trying to understand what Morton meant when he talked about ethical decisions being ‘strictly secondary to the stuff my DNA is taking care of anyway’ and the sentence following.
Thanks for the publication and for distributing it for free.
Thank you for several interesting papers–I especially liked the examination of Heidegger’s early thoughts about nature and the contrasting of Merleau-Ponty and Spinoza in their potential contributions to environmental philosophy.
I find myself virtually speechless in the wake of having read Ross Wolfe’s “Man and Nature,” however, especially in light of its concluding quotation, seemingly with approval, of Trotsky holding forth on “the Socialist man” who “will rule all nature by machine,” changing the course of rivers and cutting down mountains–I am left wondering whether this essay was intentionally crafted to be a cartoonish caricature of a position that has been undergoing an active process of rejection over many years now, and rightly so. At a time in which we are recognizing that we live in a world of limits–not only limits on how much GHG we can stuff into our atmosphere but limits on how much longer we can continue all the complex industrial processes that depend on fossil fuel consumption, including the translocation of staple foods from one continent to another, upon which some millions if not billions today depend–here is an author trotting out the same old, tired anti-Malthusian tirade, without giving the faintest hint of what sort of goal we might be “progressing” toward under his “vision of unlimited human freedom,” apparently unconstrained by any sort of planetary finitude. Wolfe provides not argument but ridicule against the positions of deep ecologists and animal rightists of various stripes, and he betrays an embarrassing lack of familiarity with philosophical ecofeminism. He does environmental philosophy a service, however, by addressing green anarchism head-on, something that the more mainstream journals have shied away from for all too long.
While I’m not quite ready to reject all that goes under the heading of “civilization,” I think a VERY deep critique of the presently dominant, near-global, industrial worldview (cutting at least as far down to the bone as John Zerzan’s problematization of language and the beginning of our primate symbol-use), to be followed by a REVERSAL of the trajectories of many of the activities that are currently being carried out by collective human action–for example, the building of a whole new round of nuclear reactors, and nuclear weapons, and mega-projects of many types as currently contemplated (all ultimately justified on the basis of continuing the growth of our human population indefinitely, though the proximal reasons are often very different)–is absolutely essential if our species is to make it through the twenty-first century. Without some kind of acknowledgment of the wrongness of continuing on in our current direction, and a turning away from it, we will indeed suffer the dystopian future heralded by the “zombie” genre–it will simply be natural selection acting on a species unwilling, to the bitter end, to relinquish its self-deception (one part of a finite system cannot continue to grow indefinitely–that’s very simple logic indeed). I’m afraid neither Marx nor Wolfe’s sort of contemporary Marxist ever got around to understanding “productivity” in terms of what REALLY keeps us all alive–NPP, the net primary productivity of green plants, not the sham “productivity” of human beings making plastic crap in sweatshops nor the complete fantasy of “production” in imagining we are creating something real by the calculation of compound interest.
Instead of continuing to converse in the worn-out terminology from another era, or to stay largely within disciplinary boundaries even with narrow, if more updated, concepts, I think we’re inhabiting a space now where all disciplines need to take an active role in addressing our common human situation, as Ted Toadvine may be advocating. But in that space we now all have access to certain significant findings of contemporary biological science, should we take the trouble to investigate, not the least of which are the astounding commonality (underlying a very broad spectrum of more superficial differences) of Earthly lifeforms, the complexity of organization of every living being, and the myriad interrelationships among them, some of which are importantly linked to considerations of finitude. There is a reality of “what it means to be alive,” in thermodynamic, organizational, and experiential dimensions, that needs to be recognized by everyone who would propose to philosophize about such matters, and a new vitalism–one that does not shy away from acknowledgment of the fact that the living IS different from the nonliving–may be very much in order. There are also interesting possibilities to explore with respect to the relationship between our collective level of awareness and our human social ontology: when we begin to ask questions like “what IS money?” or debt or any of the other socially agreed-upon symbols that we presently invest with power over ourselves but need not, for example, some things may change rapidly. Bumping up our self-reflexive awareness a level or two may well spell the end of globalized exploitative capitalism, which seems to be virtually synonymous with our highly centralized and now faltering industrialism (and let’s not forget patriarchal militarism). That’s why we need local agricultural communities of various sorts to spring up everywhere, by the way–so that there will be an alternative way of feeding people when the great “machine” grinds down–a pattern of social organization based on mistaken metaphysical assumptions that our species must finally leave far behind.
I’m not sure how Morton or Woodard feel about taking questions and answers here, though I doubt that they’d mind. I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on and responses to any of the points I made in my article. If you have any questions for me, as well, I’d be more than happy to answer them. In case the Thinking Nature editors might object to using this space to mount criticisms, you’d be more than welcome to leave any comments/responses to my paper posted over at my blog.
I will send you a message on Facebook to let you know that I’ve noticed your comment, since I wasn’t aware of it until just now.
I appreciate your impassioned objections to many of the claims I make and interpretations I provide, though you will notice that I did make every attempt to familiarize myself with the major currents of thought within deep ecology, eco-feminism, and so on with recourse to some of the foundational texts of each school of thought. You may very well believe that my reading of these texts was glib and unfair, but I would be very interested in seeing how you would frame a deep ecological or eco-feminist position that does not fall prey to the criticisms I raise. The same would apply with my criticisms of the locavore and organic food movements, since I respond to explicit claims cited from their generally-acknowledged founders, Northbourne and Howard.
I am, however completely aware that my treatment of each constituency within the contemporary green movement was probably abbreviated and provided only a cursory overview of some of the ideologies I critique. This was necessary, I felt, given the amount of ground I was trying to cover. But certainly some overgeneralizations and superficialities may have crept in along the way. Either way, I’d be interested in a most point-by-point response.
Also, to Ronnie Hawkings:
Marx’s sense of the word “productivity” was very specific in its intended meaning. He made it clear that he wanted to distinguish conscious human productive activity from the blindly generative forces of nature. Both nature and labor generate wealth, in the sense of use-value, but only labor produces value, in the sense of exchange-value. This is not meant to denigrate the biophysical processes by which environmental systems sustain themselves or promote their own further flourishing. But ecosystems can also easily fail to sustain themselves and wither away of their own accord. Nature is not some sort of harmonious state of equilibrium that humanity just so happens to disrupt. It is often violent and chaotic, and even its most apparent stabilities are only transitory. Humanity has a bad habit of overexploiting limited environments, but it has also proven itself capable of actually enhancing natural systems, both for its own sake and for the sake of the environments effected.
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