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Environmental Values

Lost for Words? Gadamer and Benjamin on the Nature of Language and the 'Language' of Nature

Mick Smith

Environmental Values 10(2001): 59-75. doi: 10.3197/096327101129340741

Language is commonly regarded as an exclusively human attribute and the possession of the word (logos) has long served to demarcate culture from nature. This is often taken to imply that nature is incapable of meaningful expression, that any meaning it acquires is merely bestowed upon it by humanity. This anthropic logocentrism seriously undermines those forms of 'environmental advocacy' which claim to find and speak of the meaning and value of nature per se. However, shorn of their own anthropocentric presuppositions, the expressivist hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Walter Benjamin might offer an alternative understanding of the nature of language and the language of nature.

KEYWORDS: Expressionism, Gadamer, hermeneutics, nature, language

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Citizens, Denizens and the Res Publica: Environmental Ethics, Structures of Feeling and Political Expression. Mick Smith

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