Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Submission to a Conference

I'm becoming an increasing fan of applying the phenomenological method to areas of interest rather than thinking that as phenomenologists, we should just simply regurgitate textual exegesis.

Phenomenology and the Sense of Nature

In this paper, I will argue that phenomenological descriptions of nature cannot establish a value or ethic. Phenomenology can only study the form of these experiences. HoweveNo r, the benefit of adopting a phenomenological orientation to nature brings to light what emotive engagements arise in relation to nature. Some of these emotive engagements condition the response to nature as either objects of instrumental use, or the sublime beauty of nature. An ethics of nature or the environment is therefore a consequence of reading our aesthetic emotive engagements of nature back into the very orientation we take up in relation to nature. In other words, phenomenology recovers the sense to which the meaning of nature arises.
This approach flies in the face of modernity in two respects, which I argue are still present for us today. On the one hand, as long as philosophers continually operate with a Cartesian attitude that scientific and philosophical knowledge empowers human beings to possess nature, and on the other hand, ethical theories restrict value to human beings only. My phenomenological description of relating to nature then comes into contact with these two proclivities. As such, I argue phenomenology provides us with an alternative as to how we find nature meaningful; it is through the emotive engagements of the sublimeity in nature that should open up how we see nature acquires the sense of value inherent within (offering us a different eidetic seeing of nature).

Let me speak to the paper’s organization. In section 1, I describe what I take to be the relation to nature uncovered by phenomenological description. In section 2, I explain what I take to be the Cartesian attitude towards nature and likewise the same in section 3 in relation to the human-value bias in ethical theories. Finally, I conclude in section 4 how the description of section 1 can amend both the 


Canadian Pragmatist said...

"ethical theories restrict value to human beings only."

This simply is not true. Read Aldo Leopold's "Land Ethic" or anything Callicott or Norton have written on it, or anything in deep ecology.

What you argue phenomenology allows us to do has already been done through other means.

Also, Descartes has already been taken to task by almost everyone in environmental philosophy.

Carbondale Chasmite said...

You cannot extricate a sentence from the paragraph that ties what you quote to modernity. There is no moral philosophy produced between Descartes and Kant in which ethical theories did not restrict value to human beings. Don't quote piecemeal and attribute to authors what they did not say. Philosophy works slower than that, and while many people have thought through Descartes' conception of nature, I haven't done it yet. Some things in philosophy are more for me than others.

Finally, great. Other people have done what I set out to do by non-phenomenological means. So what? I shouldn't ask the question? The question is over. It's expired for me to do anything with the question??

Canadian Pragmatist said...

You didn't specify that it was between Descartes and Kant (quite a narrow span). That's before Mill even came on to the ethical scene.

It doesn't mean you should ask the question (whatever the question your asking is). It means it's unoriginal and perhaps even belaboured.

Carbondale Chasmite said...

No, I didn't and I apologize for not being clearer. I use the phrase "modernity" loosely and suggestively. The only thing I can tell you is that it starts with Descartes and ends either around Kant or Hegel. I think MIll would fit within the assumptions of modernity fairly well.

I find the most belaboring questions to be the most revealing. Think of it this way. Descartes' phrase "master and possessor of nature" has inspired much reflection. It bespeaks how we think of ourselves in relation to nature, and is constantly appropriated in good and bad ways. I find this fascinating since so many people keep coming back to Descartes. What are they hoping to find? It is revealing that Descartes wanted a sense of certitude of the self against all else. As such, we find no that the Cartesian self qua mind opposes the world by being a different kind of thing than the world. This opposition between the self and the world is largely a falsehood, and yet it keeps surfacing in various ways.

Finally, the question before me ultimately is how is that others find nature valuable and why others regard it as a usable object in much the way that Descartes implies.