Environmental Knowledge, Technology, and Values: Reconstructing Max Scheler’s Phenomenological Environmental Sociology

Human Studies 40 (3):401-419 (2017)
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Abstract

In light of research showing that climate change policy opinions and perceptions of climate change are conditioned by pre-held values, Max Scheler’s axiology, conception of ethos, and sociology of knowledge are revisited. Scheler provides a critical analysis of the values surrounding modern technology’s relation to nature, especially in his assessment of the subordination of life to utility, or, the “ethos of industrialism”. The ethos of industrialism is said to influence the modern understanding of the environment as a machine to be controlled for human aims. Scheler’s phenomenological proto-environmental sociology can contribute to the environmental social sciences in three ways: articulating the axiological basis of human knowledge of the environment; offering new values to consider in future research on the social dimensions of human-nature relations; and a framework for connecting socio-ecological analysis with evaluation, specifically for evaluating different types of technologies based on their relation to the environment.

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