From Mastery to Mystery

From Mastery to Mystery: A Phenomenological Foundation for an Environmental Ethic

BRYAN E. BANNON
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Ohio University Press
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhn9d
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  • Book Info
    From Mastery to Mystery
    Book Description:

    From Mastery to Mysteryis an original and provocative contribution to the burgeoning field of ecophenomenology. Informed by current debates in environmental philosophy, Bannon critiques the conception of nature as ?"substance" that he finds tacitly assumed by the major environmental theorists. Instead, this book reconsiders the basic goals of an environmental ethic by questioning the most basic presupposition that most environmentalists accept: that nature is in need of preservation.Beginning with Bruno Latour's idea that continuing to speak of nature in the way we popularly conceive of it is ethically and politically disastrous, this book describes a way in which the concept of nature can retain its importance in our discussion of the contemporary state of the environment. Based upon insights from the phenomenological tradition, specifically the work of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the concept of nature developed in the book preserves the best antihumanistic intuitions of environmentalists without relying on either a reductionistic understanding of nature and the sciences or dualistic metaphysical constructions.

    eISBN: 978-0-8214-4469-6
    Subjects: Philosophy, General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: THE QUESTION OF NATURE
    (pp. 1-17)

    In the quotes above, Leopold and Casey agree upon a little-explored insight: environmentalism begins with a feeling. For some, this sentiment is an intuition that there is something amiss with how many human beings currently live within and interact with nature. For others, it is an emotional connection to a place or an acknowledgment that many current environmental practices are simply unsustainable. There is no one source of environmentalism that can be identified as the most important, but in all cases wecarefor nature first, and from there we consider what is to be done. For this reason, an...

  6. CHAPTER 1 THE PROMISE OF A COMMON WORLD
    (pp. 18-37)

    “To have no master at all”: such is the promise of the common world in the work of Bruno Latour. Living as we do under all sorts of transcendent authorities, even if it remains unrecognized that such is the case, this promise is a long way off. One may even wonder if an existence without such authority is possible. After all, without some higher values to guide decision making, it seems as if we flounder in arbitrariness. The challenge is to seek a foundation from which normative position-taking is possible without also asserting the unquestionable authority of that foundation. As...

  7. CHAPTER 2 SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND THE CLOSURE OF NATURE
    (pp. 38-72)

    While Heidegger is usually viewed as a severe critic of technology, there is another dimension to his thoughts about it that are expressed in the quote above: by remaining open to what we can learn from the meaning of our technological relations to the world, we learn something of the essentialmysteriousnessof being. There is no denying that Heideggerisa critic of the technological world, but the denunciations of him as a conservative romantic, regardless of their legitimacy, seem to miss this crucial connection between technology and what Heidegger finds most distinctive of human beings: the ability to...

  8. CHAPTER 3 THE OPENING OF THE EARTH
    (pp. 73-96)

    If we are to turn aside the view of nature as a standing-reserve of energy, as the vast majority of environmentalist literature today professes a desire to do, the suggestion received from Heidegger via his analysis of technology and science is that the originary strife that holds the world open must be renewed and we musthold open the mystery. For Heidegger, the originary strife is between earth and world, which, unlike the binary pairs of concepts prevalent within modernity, do not correspond to the categories of nature and culture and in important ways cannot be separated from each other....

  9. CHAPTER 4 MERLEAU-PONTY AND NATURE AS THE COMMON WORLD
    (pp. 97-152)

    From Merleau-Ponty’s very first articulation of his philosophy, the central question of his thought has been the human relationship with nature, and from the very beginning he has opposed the conception of nature that has been argued against throughout this book. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy is marked by the attempt to see in every formalization of experience some grain of truth that inspired that particular philosophical expression. This tendency can be seen at the very onset ofThe Structure of Behavior, where he introduces the traditional definitions of nature from the materialist and intellectualist traditions in order to, over the course of...

  10. CONCLUSION NATURE’S NORMS
    (pp. 153-166)

    It would be a rather unsatisfying conclusion to this book if, as the end of the preceding chapter suggests, the conception of nature we have taken such pains to develop necessarily led to quietism with respect to what constitutes agoodcommon world. After all, the foundation for an environmental ethic should be able to provide some form of guidance with regard to how to behave within that world. The kind of guidance I envision, however, will not be of themoralvariety, by which I mean that I do not intend to supply aruleordecision procedurethat...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 167-188)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 189-196)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 197-201)