Environmental thought has a rich and extensive history. Philosopher Robin Attfield guides readers through the key developments and debates that have defined the field from ancient times to the present.
Attfield investigates ancient, medieval and early modern environmental contributions; Darwin and his successors; the debate in America involving Thoreau, Marsh, Muir and Pinchot; the foundation of the science of ecology in the Western world; and twentieth-century trailblazers like Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson. Central themes of key environmentalist works of the 1970s and 1980s are discussed, along with the major debates in environmental philosophy, including Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis. Attfield then turns to the current environmental emergency, encompassing the crises of climate change, air pollution and biodiversity loss, exploring contemporary intellectual responses to it. Each chapter concludes with a list of recommended readings, selected to invite readers to explore the book's topics in greater depth.
Environmental Thought: A Short History will become a pivotal text in its field, of interest to students and scholars of history, philosophy, ethics, geography, religion, biology and environmental studies.
1 Pre-Modern Attitudes and Influences
2 Early Modern Reflections
3 Darwin and His Successors
4 The American Debate
5 Foundations of the Science of Ecology
6 Further Origins of Conservation
7 Early Environmentalism
8 Environmental Philosophy and Kindred Studies
9 Green Issues and Movements
10 The Environmental Crisis
Robin Attfield is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Cardiff University. He has taught and carried out research in ethics, philosophy of religion, history of philosophy and environmental philosophy for more than 50 years, and is the author or editor of 15 books and more than 250 articles and chapters.
"Robin Attfield has established his reputation as a leading philosopher of ecological thought. This textbook is illuminating, critically acute and accessible. It provides an essential background for developing informed intellectual responses to the present ecological crisis."
– Keith Ward, University of Oxford and Roehampton University
"A concise and critical overview of thinking about the environment in Western history. Discussing ideas in philosophy, science, religion, poetry and art, Robin Attfield provides much-needed historical context for contemporary environmental thought."
– Katie McShane, Colorado State University
"Attfield's new book shows that he is one of the leading authors in ecological ethics. There is no work on the history of ecological ideas of comparable comprehensiveness, conciseness and readability. It unfolds the richness and continuity of ecological thinking in the history of philosophy, theology and the arts and combines scholarship with a genuine engagement for present-day issues such as biodiversity and climate protection."
– Dieter Birnbacher, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
"Even young disciplines get older, and thus become entitled to a history. As far as I can see, Robin Attfield's new book is the first history of environmental thought ever written. It discusses its pre-modern roots and early modern reflections, recognizes the enormous importance that Darwin's revolution represents for our understanding of ecology, expounds the creation of an independent discipline called ecology, and traces its connections to the conservationist program, the green movements, and the specific philosophical debates of the present. Being himself a leading environmental philosopher, Attfield is particularly qualified for this excellent overview that will prove very useful to the biologist, the philosopher, and the environmental activist who wants to understand where the origins of their ideas lie."
– Vittorio G. Hösle, University of Notre Dame