The primacy of desire and its ecological consequences

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

22 Scopus citations


Environmental ethicists are invariably led to construct a philosophy of nature, since the question of whether anthropocentrism is a sound basis for environmental policy rests on the plausibility of attributing intrinsic value to nature. Thus runs the dominant line of reasoning in Anglo-American environmental circles, and the battle lines are drawn by implication: either humans project values on an objective and valueless factual world, or nature enjoys some valuable and/or valuing status in its own right. Recent trends seem to favor the latter direction, toward a philosophy of nature that, on the rebound against earlier anthropocentric views of "man-apart-from-nature, " insists on inserting the human subject within a continuum of value originating within the ecosystem or the natural organism itself.1 But perhaps this movement toward a continuity with nature, a homogeneity or kinship between the human and the natural, is wrongheaded. This problemmatic tendency is also apparent in recent phenomenologically oriented approaches to environmental philosophy, for example, in recent attempts to establish a kinship of the human and the natural on the basis of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of corporeality and later ontology of flesh. Is environmental ethics best served by adopting this "humans-as-a-part-of-nature" paradigm? Or, to pose the question theoretically rather than practically, is a perceived teleological continuity between humans and nature a suitable basis for attributing value? And perhaps we should throw our net wider still: Is the question of "intrinsic value" the right question?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEco-Phenomenology
Subtitle of host publicationBack to the Earth Itself
PublisherState University of New York Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)0791456218, 9780791456217
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The primacy of desire and its ecological consequences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this