Political Nature Environmentalism and the Interpretation of Western Thought

ISBN-10: 0262632241
ISBN-13: 9780262632249
Edition: 2001
Authors: John M. Meyer
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Description: Concern over environmental problems is prompting us to reexamine established thinking about society and politics. The challenge is to find a way for the publicrsquo;s concern for the environment to become more integral to social, economic, and  More...

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Book details

List price: $27.00
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 7/20/2001
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 226
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.836
Language: English

Concern over environmental problems is prompting us to reexamine established thinking about society and politics. The challenge is to find a way for the publicrsquo;s concern for the environment to become more integral to social, economic, and political decision making. Two interpretations have dominated Western portrayals of the nature-politics relationship, what John Meyer calls the dualist and the derivative. The dualist account holds that politics--and human culture in general--is completely separate from nature. The derivative account views Western political thought as derived from conceptions of nature, whether Aristotelian teleology, the clocklike mechanism of early modern science, or Darwinian selection. Meyer examines the nature-politics relationship in the writings of two of its most pivotal theorists, Aristotle and Thomas Hobbes, and of contemporary environmentalist thinkers. He concludes that we must overcome the limitations of both the dualist and the derivative interpretations if we are to understand the relationship between nature and politics. Human thought and action, says Meyer, should be considered neither superior nor subservient to the nonhuman natural world, but interdependent with it. In the final chapter, he shows how struggles over toxic waste dumps in poor neighborhoods, land use in the American West, and rainforest protection in the Amazon illustrate this relationship and point toward an environmental politics that recognizes the experience of place as central.

Gina Neff is Associate Professor of Communication and Sociology at the University of Washington and the School of Public Policy at Central European University. She is the coeditor of the book Surviving the New Economy.John M. Meyer is Professor in the Department of Politics and a Faculty Member in Environmental Studies and the Environment and Community Graduate Program at Humboldt State University. He is the author of Political Nature: Environmentalism and the Interpretation of Western Thought and the coeditor of The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice (both published by the MIT Press).

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Future and Past
Worldviews and the Evasion of Politics in Environmentalist Thought
Searching for Roots: Environmentalist Interpretations of the History of Western Thought
Rethinking Nature in Political Theory
Mechanical Nature and Modern Politics: The System of Thomas Hobbes
Natural Ends and Political Naturalism? Understanding Aristotle
Political Nature
Nature, Politics, and the Experience of Place
New Possibilities for Environmental Politics
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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