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161. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Nicholas Mowad The Natural World of Spirit: Hegel on the Value of Nature
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Hegel provides a previously unnoticed foundation for an environmental ethic according to which the environment is not a collection of mere objects to be exploited arbitrarily. Indeed, the environment is not even merely natural, but also an expression of culture. In identifying this relation between nature and culture, Hegel anticipates “bioregionalism,” though he would also be critical of this school of thought. I conclude that Hegel offers the foundations for an environmental ethic (though not a fully articulated theory) by showing how the natural environment is part of who we are, and so ought not to be treated arbitrarily.
162. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Joshua Mousie Global Environmental Justice and Postcolonial Critique
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In this article I examine contemporary accounts of global justice theory (which I designate as domestic and institutional) and how they are implemented in order to formulate notions of global environmental justice. I underscore how these accounts are limited in their ability to provide thick conceptions of environmental justice, mainly because they fail to provide promising alternative visions of global politics that can substantially combat the injustices and inequalities that are currently so popular in neoliberal environmental governance. I argue that perspectives and theoretical tools from postcolonial theory can, however, help us to begin rethinking what the phrase “environmental justice” should mean.
163. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Matthew C. Ally Ecologizing Sartre’s Ontology: Nature, Science, and Dialectics
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I argue that Sartre’s philosophy can be both broadened in its aspirations and deepened in its implications through dialogue with the life sciences. Section 1 introduces the philosophical terrain. Section 2 explores Sartre’s evolving understanding of nature and human relations with nature. Section 3 explores Sartre’s perspectives on scientific inquiry, natural history, and dialectical reason. Section 4 outlines recent developments in the life sciences that bear directly on Sartre’s quiet curiosity about a naturalistic dialectics. Section 5 suggests how these developments constitute progress toward an “ecologized” dialectical philosophy consistent with Sartre’s mature ontology of praxis and pertinent to addressing the burgeoning socioecological crisis.
164. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Keith Peterson Ecosystem Services, Nonhuman Agencies, and Diffuse Dependence
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This paper is a preliminary treatment of the categories of agency and dependence in the context of ecosystem services discourse. These categories are discussed in terms of critical categorial ontology in order to articulate adequately the nature of humankind’s dependence upon the nonhuman natural world, inadequately captured by ecosystem services discourse. Following Val Plumwood, this essay takes ecosystems services discourse as an example of one type of failure to discern various forms of agency as well as dependence, and it goes on to define diffuse dependence as the relation that corresponds to the form of agency expressed through ecosystem services.
165. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Drew Leder Embodying Otherness: Shape-Shifting and the Natural World
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This paper explores the ability and desire of the embodied self to “shape-shift”—to experience from within the capacities of animals, or natural phenomena like trees and mountains. Shape-shifting is discussed insofar as it manifests in a broad range of cultural domains, including children’s play, mythico-religious iconography, spiritual practice, sports, the performing arts, and so on. This potential for shape-shifting is grounded not simply in our evolutionary history and biological kinships, but in the phenomenology of the lived-body. Our own powers are explored, expanded, and transformed through our communion with the non-human world.
166. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Andrew Reszitnyk Eyes Through Oil: Witnessing the Nonhuman Victims of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
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This paper evaluates Jacques Derrida’s startling claim that “the relations between humans and animals must change . . . both in the sense of an ‘ontological’ necessity and of an ‘ethical’ duty,” through an assessment of the ethical appeal emitted by nonhuman witnesses of catastrophe. Drawing upon contemporary theories of ethics, photography, and animality, it analyzes Charley Riedel’s iconic 2010 photograph of a bird covered in oil in the Gulf of Mexico, arguing that attending to visual testaments to disaster is one way to begin to challenge an anthropocentrism that has rendered life outside “the human” unworthy of ethical and political consideration.
167. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 9 > Issue: 2
Michael James Bennett Bergson’s Environmental Aesthetic
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This paper investigates the connection between Henri Bergson’s biological epistemology and his moral theory. Specifically, it examines the distinction between the morality of what Bergson calls “closed” and “open” societies in his late work Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932). I argue that “open” morality provides the moral correlate of a non-instrumentalizing orientation toward nature. Here Bergson’s thought is disposed toward a very specific kind of environmental ethic, an aesthetic one. Bergson’s characterization of open morality, especially in the image of the mystic individual, indicates that through artistic consciousness open morality imitates the creative evolution of life.
168. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Annabelle Dufourcq Who/What is Bête? From an Uncanny Word to an Interanimal Ethics
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The deconstruction of stupidity [in French bêtise] plays a crucial role in Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign. Through the concept of stupidity/bêtise the violence of our relationship with others, as inseparable from our relation to animality comes into view. “Stupidity” is deeply political, but also directly connected to the trace and, thus, cannot be simply overcome. While Sartre claimed that there are no fools, but just wicked men, Derrida embraces an uncanny version of stupidity. In this paper, guided by Derrida’s reflections, we will examine the many paradoxes that undermine the pseudo-concept of stupidity, as well as several key moments of its history in Schelling’s, Nietzsche’s, Sartre’s, and Deleuze’s philosophies. Eventually our purpose will be to display the ethical statements which can be extrapolated from Derrida’s perspective: when the world is gone, how can we carry stupidity?
169. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Rebekah Sinclair And Say the Animal Resisted? Derrida, Biopolitics, and the Problem with Species
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My article does two things: 1) tracks Derrida’s claim that biopolitical and sovereign power use species taxonomies to performatively depoliticize and ignore the reciprocity of creaturely perspectives; and 2) argues Derrida makes possible a deconstruction of species, and demonstrates its necessity for better political futures. To do this, I follow Derrida’s criticism of autopsic logics and the circularity of metaphysics and zoology, and his affirmation of embodied singularity. Finally, I start and end with analyses of cetacean suicide: by privileging how others see themselves and us over our perspective of them, Derrida challenges what counts as political and who decides.
170. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Kelly Oliver On Sharing a World with Other Animals
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Challenging Heidegger’s thesis that animals are poor in world while humans are world-building, in The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume II, Jacques Derrida claims that each singular living being inhabits its own solitary world, its own desert island. There, he claims both, on the one hand, that animals share our world and may be world-building and, on the other, that we cannot be certain that human beings share a world or are world-building (at least not in Heidegger’s sense as set apart from animals). In this article, I trace the ethical implications of Derrida’s seemingly contradictory claims that we both share a world, and that each singular being, like an island, is a world unto itself.
171. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Kalpana Seshadri Hyperbole and Ellipses: Derrida and Agamben on Sovereignty and Life
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The essay argues for a nuanced understanding of the notorious dissonance between Derrida and Agamben despite their shared interest in troubling the metaphysical separation between human and animal. I argue that a close scrutiny of their differing strategies towards the matrix of framing issues (such as sovereignty and violence) is salient for keeping the ontological question of species difference open. I suggest that the dissonance between the two thinkers is best understood in relation to systemic and rhetorical effects—namely, the encompassing figure of the circle that structures sovereignty, and the rhetoric of hyperbole that disfigures the circle into an ellipse and the line. This ironic interplay appears through their mutually dissonant readings of the localization of life (human and animal) and the situation of power and violence in relation to sovereignty.
172. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Geoffrey Bennington Beastly Sovereignty: Three Unequal Footnotes to Derrida
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This article examines three textual moments that might plausibly have found their way into Derrida’s late Beast and Sovereign seminars, but that Derrida appears to avoid or overlook. Aristotle’s discussion in the Politics of the “One Best Man” scenario is placed in the context of his earlier characterizations of the naturally apolitical man as akin either to a beast or to a god; Bataille’s late descriptions of sovereignty as a kind of self-perverting hyperbolic structure are juxtaposed with some of Derrida’s own formulations about sovereign autoimmunity; Heidegger’s discussion, in a seminar nominally about Hölderlin, of a striking formula from Sophocles (hupsipolis apolis) is shown to capture something of the “outlaw” status of the sovereign as Derrida describes it.
173. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
John Llewelyn Singularisability, Plurality, and Community
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The chief aim of this essay is to draw attention to how in Derrida’s last seminars the hyphenation “life-death” serves as a key to understanding the force of the hyphenation in the expression “animal-human” and how the work of sharing which it stands for there differs from the exclusively separative work for which we might employ the oblique stroke or slash, as in “animal/human” and “life/death.” If we wonder whether and how the hyphen and the oblique stroke share each other’s company, it might occur to us that a name for this relation of sharing could be John Duns Scotus’s distinctio formalis understood in the light of his haecceitas respelled as ecce-itas by Gerald Manley Hopkins.
174. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Apple Igrek Prosthetic Figures: The Wolf, the Marionette, the Specter
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There are two concepts of sovereignty in Derrida’s work: the classical form that posits itself as absolute mastery, whether by means of surveillance, technology, or “truth”; and the more paradoxical, subversive form inspired by Nietzsche and Bataille that simultaneously inhabits and exceeds the control mechanisms imposed upon it. One of the questions that I will pursue throughout this essay is whether such a distinction is valid. As there is something immeasurable apropos of Derrida’s second concept, I will contend that any distinction between it and the first concept is not only “undecidable” but ultimately impossible to make.
175. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
David Baumeister The Human/Animal Logic of Sovereignty: Derrida on Robinson Crusoe
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This essay offers an analysis of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe read in concert with Derrida’s treatment of the novel in the second volume of The Beast and the Sovereign. Drawing from Derrida while developing insights of my own, I assemble the elements of a unique account and critique of the logic of human sovereignty. Focusing on a crucial moment in both the novel and in Derrida’s reading of it, I argue the thesis that human sovereignty rests upon a logically prior mastery of both non-human animals and subordinated human beings—a relation of mastery I call the human/animal logic of sovereignty.
176. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Cary Wolfe Neither Beast nor Sovereign: Wallace Stevens’s Birds
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This essay combines deconstruction (chiefly the later work of Jacques Derrida) and systems theory (both social and biological systems theory) to rethink the question of ecological poetics in the work of Wallace Stevens, and in particular some of his most important poems that focus on birds and bird song. Ecocriticism has typically approached literature in general and poetry in particular in terms of its representation of nature. This essay argues for a non-representationalist ecopoetics that derives from replacing the concept of “nature” with the systems theory concept of “environment” (a term that applies equally to human and non-human forms of life). This theoretical shift allows us, in turn, to better understand the relationship of poetry and poetics to the “worlds” in which humans and non-humans live (to borrow the term that stretches from Jakob von Uexküll to Heidegger and then to Derrida).
177. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Chandler D. Rogers Beyond Biosecurity
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As boundaries between domesticity and the undomesticated increasingly blur for cohabitants of Vancouver Island, home to North America’s densest cougar population, predatorial problems become more and more pressing. Rosemary-Claire Collard responds on a pragmatic plane, arguing that the encounter between human and cougar is only ever destructive, that contact results in death and almost always for the cougar. Advocating for vigilance in policing boundaries separating cougar from civilization, therefore, she looks to Foucault’s analysis of modern biopower in the first volume of his History of Sexuality for support in favor of a more contemporary notion of biosecurity. In response to Collard’s arguments, concerned with ethical conclusions drawn on the basis of her policy-based proposal, I challenge the prohibition she places on encounter. In the first section, “Becoming Killable,” I address her use of Donna Haraway’s phraseology, and in the second section, “Biological Dangers,” I scrutinize her reading of Foucault, arguing that the appeals she makes distort the mode of argumentation at work for each thinker. The final section, “Facing Cougar, Facing Death,” advocates further ethical possibilities generated on the basis of Foucault’s correlation between overcoming the fear of death and resisting abuses of power with respect to others. My contention is that our transgressing boundaries constructed to separate humanity from the inhumane curtails tendencies toward the marginalization and subjugation of those animal others whose very existence brings us face to face with the fact of our own mortality.
178. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Steven Vogel Doing without Nature: On Interpretation and Practice
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Sorry that he is no longer here to read it, I consider in this paper Scott Cameron’s discussion of my views questioning the value of the concept of “nature” for environmental philosophy. Scott had suggested, based on arguments from hermeneutics, that although we never have access to a nature independent of our interpretations of it, still the existence of such a nature is necessarily presupposed by all such interpretations. I claim in response that if we replace the (idealist) notion of interpretation by the (materialist) one of practice, that presupposition is no longer necessary: the independence required is built into the notion of practice itself, and need not be seen as a characteristic of the world “outside” of us.
179. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Brook Muller Blue Architectures (The City and the Wild in Concentrate)
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It is more than a coincidence that in his two essays, “Wilderness and the City: Not such a Long Drive After All” and “Can Cities Be Both Natural and Successful? Reflections Grounding Two Apparently Oxymoronic Aspirations,” Scott Cameron looks to water as a basis for evaluating the city in relationship to the wild and in imagining new possibilities for urban nature. In an attempt to complement and enrich Cameron’s thinking, this essay focuses on emerging, decentralized and ecologically responsive approaches to water and wastewater systems in architectural projects in dense urban environments. Such an emphasis on “blue architectures” allows for a reframing of the city/nature relationship in terms of degrees of concentration—of water, organisms, and pollutants—as a precursor to considerations of distances involved (“not such a long drive”). To concentrate on localized hydrologic conditions is to support the integrity of broader scale ecological systems and to reconnect urban dwellers to processes that bear directly on the wild.
180. Environmental Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Maskit Urban Mobility—Urban Discovery: A Phenomenological Aesthetics for Urban Environments
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In this paper I investigate how different modes of urban transportation shape our experience of the urban environment. My goal is to argue that how we move through a space is not merely a question of convenience or efficiency. Rather, our transportation technologies can fundamentally shift how we experience where we are. I propose a framework for considering mobility from the standpoint of phenomenological everyday aesthetics considering the social, somatic, temporal-epistemic, and affective characteristics of experience. I then suggest a typology of different forms of urban mobility distinguishing between private and public forms of transportation as well as between faster and slower modes. I next suggest a trio of factors—speed, ability to survey one’s surroundings, and ease of interruption—that play into how we experience an urban environment while discovering it by means of mobility. By applying the framework of experience and the trio of factors to the typology of transportation modes I show how each of them can foster or hinder an aesthetic experience of the urban environment. I conclude by reflecting on some further issues for investigation including the role of power in urban space, questions concerning mobility and difference (class, race, dis/ability, etc.), the place of technological mediation in urban mobility, and the role of spatial planning.