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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

The Crisis of Ecology: A Phenomenological Perspective

J.M. Howarth

Environmental Values 4(1995): 17-30. doi: 10.3197/096327195776679619

If we are to act properly with regard to the natural world, to protect, preserve, conserve, manage or leave it alone, we need both appropriate knowledge of that world, and a sound foundation for values to guide our actions. The thesis of this paper is that scientific ecology, though some of its interpreters claim it as a 'post-modern' eco-friendly science, in fact, while perhaps not as guilty as other of its post-modern interpreters might claim of the worst excesses of 'modernism', nonetheless does retain the underlying assumptions of modernism. (The 'jargon' will be further explained.) The thesis will be supported by methods drawn from phenomenology. Phenomenological enquiry can reveal and criticise the modernist assumptions, while traditional phenomenological notions, in particular Heidegger's notion of Dwelling and Merleau-Ponty's notion of the body subject, I shall suggest, might form a more eco-friendly framework for enquiring into the character of interactions within the natural world and the basis of values in those interactions.

KEYWORDS: Phenomenology, ecology, modernism, symbiosis, niche

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