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The Domination of Nature

By: William Leiss(Author)
242 pages, no illustrations
The Domination of Nature
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  • The Domination of Nature ISBN: 9780228017257 Edition: 3 Paperback Feb 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks
  • The Domination of Nature ISBN: 9780228017240 Edition: 3 Hardback Feb 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks
Selected version: £32.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Concern over ecological and environmental problems grows daily, and many believe we're at a critical tipping point. Scientists, social thinkers, public officials, and the public recognize that failure to understand the destructive impact of industrial society and advanced technologies on the delicate balance of organic life in the global ecosystem will result in devastating problems for future generations.

In The Domination of Nature William Leiss argues that this global predicament must be understood in terms of deeply rooted attitudes towards nature. He traces the origins, development, and social consequences of an idea whose imprint is everywhere in modern thought: the idea of the domination of nature. In part 1 Leiss traces the idea of the domination of nature from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Francis Bacon's seminal work provides the pivotal point for this discussion, and through an original interpretation of Bacon's thought, Leiss shows how momentous ambiguities in the idea were incorporated into modern thought. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the concept had become firmly identified with scientific and technological progress. This fact defines the task of part 2. Using important contributions by European sociologists and philosophers, Leiss critically analyzes the role of science and technology in the modern world. In the concluding chapter, he puts the idea of mastery over nature into historical perspective and explores a new approach, based on the possibilities of the liberation of nature.

Originally published in 1972, The Domination of Nature was part of the first wave of widespread interest in environmental issues. In a new preface, Leiss explores the concept of eco-dominion and the moral obligations of human citizens of the twenty-first century.


Preface to the 2023 Edition ix
Preface to the 1994 Edition xli

PART ONE: In Pursuit of an Idea: Historical Perspectives
1 The Cunning of Unreason 3
2 Mythical, Religious, and Philosophical Roots 25
3 Francis Bacon 45

4 The Seventeenth Century and After 73
PART TWO: Science, Technology, and the Domination of Nature
5 Science and Domination 101
6 Science and Nature 125
7 Technology and Domination 145
8 The Liberation of Nature? 167

Appendix-Technological Rationality: Marcuse and His Critics 199
Notes and References 213
List of Works Cited 223
Index 233

Customer Reviews


William Leiss is a fellow and past president of the Royal Society of Canada, an officer of the Order of Canada, and professor emeritus at the School of Policy Studies, Queen's University. He is the author of several books, including Mad Cows and Mother's Milk: The Perils of Poor Risk Communication.

By: William Leiss(Author)
242 pages, no illustrations
Media reviews

"Leiss weaves a complex and frequently scintillating theme that sometimes poses old questions in new ways and also raises new questions that might provoke a measure of lucidity in a discussion, now deeply obfuscated."
– Richard J. Neuhaus, The Annals of the American Academy

"A stimulating new perspective on a matter of considerable academic as well as public concern."
– T.J. Cartwright, Canadian Journal of Political Science

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