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The Natural Alien

The Natural Alien: Humankind and Environment

Neil Evernden
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 172
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  • Book Info
    The Natural Alien
    Book Description:

    In this eloquent and sympathetic book, Evernden evaluates the international environmental movement and the underlying assumptions that could doom it to failure.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2744-4
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. The Environmentalists’ Dilemma

    • CHAPTER ONE Talking about the Mountain
      (pp. 3-34)

      It has become common in our time for a person or group to speak out when some portion of undiminished nature is threatened with modification or extinction. Of course, not everyone feels compelled to defend a mountain. But those who do, whom we commonly refer to as environmentalists, find it an awkward compulsion, for they must reconcile the conflicting tasks of being faithful to their subject and maintaining their credibility. In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to assume that one can be both accurate and easily understood. That is, the perils of facile explanation have become all too...

  6. The Cultural Dimension

    • CHAPTER TWO The Fields of Self
      (pp. 35-54)

      The public expectations of the environmental movement have fallen out of register with the aspirations of thoughtful figures within that movement. While it was once fairly safe to assume that the goals of the movement were simply the encouragement of responsible resource exploitation and the discouragement of actions which jeopardize the life-sustaining functions of the earth, these may no longer be adequate. With the realization that such goals are themselves determined by the assumptions of the industrial state, the role of the environmentalist is transformed. It is no longer possible to deal with environmental issues in isolation from the attitudes...

    • CHAPTER THREE Returning to Experience
      (pp. 55-72)

      The tools of the environmentalist spring from an understanding of the world that does not accord with his individual experience and does not even seem able to accommodate the goals he seeks. Some challenge to those assumptions about the world is clearly necessary, and yet even if a person accepts such a challenge, he is not likely to awaken to a new world tomorrow. Whatever the criticism, we shall not cease to perceive objects. But the objects themselves may be somewhat mutable. To the question, ‘would the world contain objects as it does now, if all the conscious people were...

  7. The Organic Dimension

    • CHAPTER FOUR A Biology of Subjects
      (pp. 73-102)

      We have now traced the source of the environmentalist’s failure to a tacit understanding of reality that is incompatible with the acceptance of the existence of value in nature. We have also seen how an alternative trend in western thought seeks to transcend the limitations imposed by the conventional view, and in so doing leaves open the possibility of seriously addressing the concerns of the environmentalist. But our attention thus far has been focused exclusively on the cultural attributes of humans, and particularly on the varying views of reality which can be accommodated by consciousness. There has been no assertion...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Natural Aliens
      (pp. 103-124)

      Each organism has its world, and that enables it to function and persist. Each lives within that world to which it is made. The variability of the human world makes it very difficult to speak of humans havinganenvironment, for the human surroundings vary with their world. It is this strange flexibility that makes it possible for us to believe in an abstract reality which pits us against, or more correctly separates us from, the earth that houses all organic worlds.

      Throughout the discussion so far we have had to pay attention to the official version of the way...

  8. The Context of Environmentalism

    • CHAPTER SIX The Shells of Belief
      (pp. 125-144)

      The term ‘environmentalist’ was not chosen by the individuals so described. It was seized upon by members of the popular press as a means of labelling a newly prominent segment of society. But, of course, any term selected by the news media is likely to be drawn from common usage and to reflect common assumptions. It is difficult to imagine, therefore, that this agent would have great success in concisely describing something distinctly uncommon. In fact, the act of labelling a group may constitute an effective means of suppression, even if the label seems neutral or objective. For in giving...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 145-154)

    We began these reflections by considering the phenomenon of environmental defence and the difficulty inherent in ‘talking about the mountain.’ Since the beginnings of the contemporary environmental movement the number of persons moved to attempt that defence seems to have grown exponentially. Today, environmental platitudes drip from most political tongues, and even international bureaucracies are eager to pronounce upon the fate of the earth. Yet with all the talk and good intentions, the dying continues. In the United States alone, 94 species are known to have gone extinct since Earth Day (1970), with another 11 presumed extinct and 3 others...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 155-168)
  11. Index
    (pp. 169-172)