Interpreting Nature

Fordham University Press (2013)

Brian Treanor
Loyola Marymount University
David Utsler
Texas Woman's University
Martin Drenthen
Radboud University Nijmegen
The twentieth century saw the rise of hermeneutics, the philosophical interpretation of texts, and eventually the application of its insights to metaphorical “texts” such as individual and group identities. It also saw the rise of modern environmentalism, which evolved through various stages in which it came to realize that many of its key concerns—“wilderness” and “nature” among them—are contested territory that are viewed differently by different people. Understanding nature requires science and ecology to be sure, but it also requires a sensitivity to history, culture, and narrative. Thus, understanding nature is a fundamentally hermeneutic task. Interpreting Nature brings together leading voices at the intersection of these two increasingly important philosophical discussions: philosophical hermeneutics and environmental philosophy. The resulting field, environmental hermeneutics, provides the center of gravity for a collection of essays that grapple with one of the most compelling issues of our time: how do humans relate to nature? Adopting a broad and inclusive view of “the environment, Interpreting Nature takes up restoration and preservation, natural and built environments, the social construction of nature and nature as it imposes itself beyond our categories, and much more. The rich diversity of contributions illustrates the remarkable fecundity of hermeneutic resources applied to environmental issues. Taken together, the various contributions to this collection mark the arrival of environmental hermeneutics as a distinct field of study.
Keywords Environmental philosophy  Environmental Ethics  Hermeneutics
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