Interpreting Nature: The Emerging Field of Environmental Hermeneutics

Interpreting Nature: The Emerging Field of Environmental Hermeneutics

Interpreting Nature: The Emerging Field of Environmental Hermeneutics

Interpreting Nature: The Emerging Field of Environmental Hermeneutics

Synopsis

Modern environmentalism has come to realize that many of its key concerns "wilderness" and "nature" among them are contested territory, viewed differently by different people. Understanding nature requires science and ecology, to be sure, but it also requires a sensitivity tom, history, culture, and narrative. Thus, understanding nature is a fundamentally hermeneutic task.

Excerpt


Environmental Hermeneutics

David Utsler, Forrest Clingerman, Martin Drenthen, and Brian Treanor

Friedrich Nietzsche famously stated: “There are no facts, only interpretations.” Perhaps this could be slightly rephrased: no facts go uninterpreted. There are simply no bare facts, at least if a fact is to be meaningful. Every fact has meaning only in relation to other facts, to context, and to the human understanding itself. In other words, at the heart of every confrontation of concept and perception is the issue of hermeneutics: the art and science of interpretation.

The present volume uncovers some of the ways that interpretation takes place in the human relationship to the environment. This collection brings together essays on the questions that hermeneutics raises for environmental philosophy. In the public sphere, much of the focus on “the environment” is concerned with discovering scientific facts and then reporting how policy can act on these facts. On its face, philosophical hermeneutics might appear to be an unrelated enterprise. But this volume follows Nietzsche in arguing that even the facts of the sciences are given meaning by how humans interpret them. Of course this does not mean that there are no facts, or that all facts must come from scientific discourse. Rather, one point of agreement among the essays presented here is the need for mediation—the mediation that grounds the interpretive task of connecting fact and meaning through a number of different structures and forms. This has practical implications, not simply intellectual ones. Ostensibly bare facts are contextualized by a variety of individual and social relations, and responsive actions emerge as a matter of consequence. For example, the science of the human body may seem to be only a collection of factual data, but what someone . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.