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.
Introduction: Environmental Hermeneutics David Utsler, Forrest Clingerman, Martin Drenthen, and Brian Treanor
Part I: Interpretation and the Task of Thinking Environmentally
1. Hermeneutics Deep in the Woods John van Buren
2. Morrow's Ants: E. O. Wilson and Gadamer's Critique of (Natural) Historicism Mick Smith
3. Layering: Body, Building, Biography Robert Mugerauer
4. Might Nature Be Interpreted as a "Saturated Phenomenon"? Christina M. Gschwandtner
5. Must Environmental Philosophy Relinquish the Concept of Nature? A Hermeneutic Reply to Steven Vogel W. S. K. Cameron
Part II: Situating the Self
6. Environmental Hermeneutics and Environmental/Eco-Psychology: Explorations in Environmental Identity David Utsler
7. Environmental Hermeneutics With and For Others: Ricoeur's Ethics and the Ecological Self Nathan Bell
8. Bodily Moods and Unhomely Environments: The Hermeneutics of Agoraphobia and the Spirit of Place Dylan Trigg
Part III: Narrativity and Image
9. Narrative and Nature: Appreciating and Understanding the Nonhuman World Brian Treanor
10. The Question Concerning Nature Sean McGrath
11. New Nature Narratives: Landscape Hermeneutics and Environmental Ethics Martin Drenthen
Part IV: Environments, Place, and the Experience of Time
12. Memory, Imagination, and the Hermeneutics of Place Forrest Clingerman
13. The Betweenness of Monuments Janet Donohoe
14. My Place in the Sun David Wood
15. How Hermeneutics Might Save the Life of (Environmental) Ethics Paul Van Tongeren and Paulien Snellen
A Bibliographic Overview of Research in Environmental Hermeneutics
List of Contributors
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Forrest Clingerman is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Ohio Northern University. Brian Treanor is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Environmental Studies at Loyola Marymount University. David Utsler is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies at the University of North Texas. Martin Drenthen is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands).