Naturalism, estrangement, and resistance
on the lived senses of nature
The tension within environmental theory between the view that humans are "part of" nature and the view that humans are alienated from nature cannot be resolved by endorsing either position, since both perspectives are motivated by structures of human experience: "unrestricted" nature, which incorporates everything that exists, including humans and their technology, and "pure" nature, which contrasts with the artifactual. This distinction resolves quandaries that emerge in environmental debates over, for example, restoration and wilderness preservation. Yet this resolution of our paradoxical relationship with nature raises the deeper problem of whether the correlation of experience with nature is fundamentally anthropocentric and consequently eliminates any descriptive access to nature "as such." Phenomenology is uniquely poised to address this concern, since our experience of nature also reveals to us, albeit indirectly, the manner in which nature withdraws from that very experience. As descriptions from Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty suggest, and as developed more recently by Amanda Boetzkes, certain works of art prove especially valuable for revealing a fundamental duplicity of nature by which it retains an uncompromised autonomy.
Toadvine, T. (2017)., Naturalism, estrangement, and resistance: on the lived senses of nature, in G. Kuperus & M. Oele (eds.), Ontologies of nature, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 181-198.
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