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Schelling and the sixth extinction: the environmental ethics behind Schelling's anthropomorphization of nature

Le, Vincent 2017, Schelling and the sixth extinction: the environmental ethics behind Schelling's anthropomorphization of nature, Cosmos and History : The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 107-129.

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Title Schelling and the sixth extinction: the environmental ethics behind Schelling's anthropomorphization of nature
Author(s) Le, Vincent
Journal name Cosmos and History : The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy
Volume number 13
Issue number 3
Start page 107
End page 129
Total pages 23
Publisher Cosmos Publishing Cooperative
Place of publication Hawthorn, Vic.
Publication date 2017-11-14
ISSN 1832-9101
Keyword(s) Schelling
naturphilosophie
Elizabeth Kolbert
the sixth extinction
Spinoza
Fichte
German idealism
ontology
metaphysics
climate change
global warming
the Anthropocene
anthropocentrism
Summary What Elizabeth Kolbert has called the ‘sixth mass extinction’ due to anthropogenic climate change has obliged us to rethink our traditional assumptions about the rapport between ourselves and nature. While the reconceptualization of nature has largely been led by scientists and environmental theorists and activists, this paper argues that Schelling provides the best and earliest model for rethinking nature in the Anthropocene. To this end, Schelling critiques two approaches to nature. Schelling repudiates Fichte’s idealism for reducing nature to an instrument for the self-assertion of our egos much like modern industrial capitalism views nature as an economic resource to be exploited for human gain. Further, Schelling critiques Spinoza for mechanizing nature as a structurally invariant system in the same way that climate change denialists hold that the earth’s ecosystem is perfectly homeostatic. Having dismissed these two approaches, Schelling develops another environmentally ethical conception of nature to answer the question of how the free human subject emerges out of an allegedly blind and lifeless nature. Schelling’s solution to safeguarding nature is to paradoxically anthropomorphize it further by reconceiving it as always-already structured as per the dynamic free spirit. This paper shall thus conclude by extracting two environmentally ethical principles that Schelling’s anthropomorphization of nature entails. Contra Fichte, the ‘dependency principle’ states that humans are radically dependent upon nature rather than nature being dependent on our positing it as an object of our intuition. Moreover, the ‘contingency principle’ stipulates against Spinoza that nature is itself contingent, dynamic and precarious. In this way, Schelling provides a conceptualization of nature befitting the demands placed upon thought in the age of the sixth extinction.
Language eng
Field of Research 220299 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields not elsewhere classified
2202 History And Philosophy Of Specific Fields
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2017, Vincent Le
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30105445

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.