Staying Loyal to the Earth: Nietzsche as an Ecological Thinker
It is customary in current discussions of the environmental crisis to ascribe responsibility for the pernicious effects of our technological domination of the earth to a tradition of thinking about the human relation to nature that is characterised as Platonic and/or Judaeo- Christian. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that a world-view in which the physical universe is denigrated as unreal by comparison with an intelligible realm of unchanging ideas, or in which the natural world has been created for the benefit of humans as the only beings made in the image of God, is unlikely to be conducive to a reverential attitude towards natural phenomena. There is, however, a current of thinking that has been opposed to this mainstream all along. Beginning with the pre-Socratic thinkers, it resurfaces in the Stoics and Epicureans and with certain figures in the Christian mystical tradition and the Italian Renaissance, attains full flow with Goethe and the Naturphilosophen in Germany, and eventually issues in philosophers like Emerson and Thoreau in North America. What is not generally appreciated is that Nietzsche is a major figure in this minor current of thinking, and that his philosophy of nature qualifies him as one of the most powerful ecological thinkers of the modern period. This prominent position derives from his intimate personal relationship to the natural world, in accordance with his principle that philosophical thoughts grow directly out of the life experience.
KeywordsEter Cataract Sonal Stake Metaphor
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- Nietzsche, F. (1980) Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, eds, 15 vols (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter; Munich: dtv).Google Scholar