IPP 508: Nature in Romantic and European Thought

AWAYMAVE - The Distance Mode of MA in Values and the Environment at Lancaster University



1. General books on environmental philosophy and continental philosophy

Environmental Values 14: 3 (2005), special issue on 'Nature and Continental

You could look at Simon Critchley, Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2001). This will help to give you an idea of what continental philosophy is about, how it differs, and how it could be relevant to thinking about nature.

There are few general books in the area of nature and continental philosophy, because it is so new. Traditionally most environmental philosophy has been written from within the broadly 'analytic' tradition of philosophy rather than the 'continental'. Most work is scattered in articles in various journals and books, and most of these articles are devoted to the interpretation of specific authors from the continental tradition.

However, the following are helpful:

Bruce V. Foltz and Robert Frodeman, eds., Rethinking Nature: Essays in Environmental Philosophy (Indiana University Press, 2004) (focused on continental-influenced approaches)

Ted Toadvine and Charles S. Brown, eds., Eco-Phenomenology: Back to the Earth itself (SUNY Press, 2002) (more focused on 20th century approaches)

David Macauley, ed., Minding Nature: The Philosophers of Ecology (New York: Guilford Press, 1996)

Elaine Miller, The Vegetative Soul: From Philosophy of Nature to Subjectivity in the Feminine (Albany: SUNY Press, 2002)

Max Oelschlaeger, ed., Postmodern Environmental Ethics (Albany: SUNY Press, 1995)

2. Books on Kant's idea of nature

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, ed. Werner S. Pluhar (Hackett, 1987) [originally published 1890].

Robert Richards, The Romantic Conception of Life (Chicago University Press, 2002), pp.62-69

Daniel Dahlstrom, ‘Hegel’s appropriation of Kant’s account of teleology in nature’, in Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature, ed. Stephen Houlgate (SUNY Press, 1998), pp.168-172

Werner S Pluhar, Introduction to Kant's Critique of Judgement (Hackett, 1987), secs. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Sebastian Gardner, Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason (Routledge, 1999), ch. 9 ‘The Complete Critical System’ - this offers helpful background on the place of the Critique of Judgement in Kant's broader system, including the tension between freedom and causality

Douglas Burnham, Introduction to Kant’s Critique of Judgement (Edinburgh University Press, 2000).

3. Readings on German Romanticism and Friedrich Schlegel

(I) German Romanticism

See the entry on ‘German Romanticism’ by Frederick Beiser in the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy [available online via Lancaster University Library homepage]

Edward Craig, The Mind of God and the Works of Man, ch. 3 ‘The Metaphysics of the Romantic Era’ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987). Really readable if sometimes a bit dismissive.

Charles Taylor, Hegel, ch. 1 ‘Aims of a New Epoch’ (Cambridge University Press, 1975) gives a good overview of the context.

Robert Richards, The Romantic Conception of Life (University of Chicago Press, 2002). A huge book on the topic, taking in a lot of romantic-influenced scientists, and much of the first chapter is taken up with Schlegel. It's rather roundabout but covers a lot of helpful material.

(II) Schlegel

Alison Stone, 'Schlegel, Romanticism, and the Re-enchantment of Nature', in Inquiry 48: 2 (2005), pp. 3-25

Oskar Walzel, German Romanticism (Capricorn Books, 1966), ch II, parts 1 and 2

Peter Firchow, 'Introduction' to his translation of Lucinde and the Fragments (University of Minnesota Press, 1971), section II

Simon Critchley, Very Little...Almost Nothing (Routledge 1997), Lecture 2 sections a-c. (You could also look at its first section 'travels in nihilon', where Critchley sets out the problem of 'nihilism' - loss of a meaning of life in modernity including due to the disenchantment of nature - which romanticism tries to overcome.)

Frederick Beiser, German Idealism (Harvard University Press, 2002) has a chapter on Schlegel.

Beiser also edits and introduces a volume called Early Political Writings of the German Romantics (Cambridge University Press, 1996) which includes some writings by Schlegel. This text is relevant insofar as it helps show how romanticism emerges out of the Enlightenment (and its values of reason, reflection, analysis) just as Schlegel believes that the way romantic literature can re-enchant nature emerges out of the way modernity generally disenchants nature. (see block two, section three)

Some further writings by Schlegel are:

--- Lucinde and the Fragments, trans. Peter Firchow, as above

--- On the Study of Greek Poetry, trans. Stuart Barnett (SUNY Press, 2003)

--- Philosophical Fragments, ed. Rudolph Gasche (University of Minnesota Press, 1991) - a reissue of the fragments from the now out of print Firchow edition above.


4. Readings on Holderlin and nature

For an overview on Hölderlin, see the entry on ‘Hölderlin’ in the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

Friedrich Holderlin, Hyperion and Selected Poems, ed. Eric Santner (Continuum, 1990)

---, Essays and Letters on Theory, ed. T. Pfau (SUNY Press, 1988) [includes many early fragments, jottings, letters, etc.]

---, selected pieces in Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics, ed. J. M. Bernstein (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

---, Poems and Fragments, trans. Michael Hamburger (various editions available)

Unfortunately there is as yet no literature that relates Holderlin's thought very closely to ecology, nevertheless people do inescapably discuss Holderlin's conception of nature. See especially:

J. M. Bernstein, 'Introduction' to Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics, pp. xxii-xxvi ('Tragedy and the loss of nature')

Francoise Dastur, 'Tragedy and Speculation' in Philosophy and Tragedy, ed. de Beistegui and Sparks (Routledge, 2000). This is a really excellent article.

Alison Stone, 'Irigaray and Holderlin on the Relation Between Nature and Culture', in Continental Philosophy Review 36: 4 (2003), pp. 415-32. I compare Holderlin with another philosopher, Luce Irigaray (a contemporary French feminist), but in the process I talk about Holderlin's conception of nature and humanity.

Peter Szondi, in On Textual Understanding (Minnesota University Press, 1986). This also has two interesting essays on Friedrich Schlegel.

Dennis Schmidt, ‘On the Significance of Nature for the Question of Ethics’. in Research in Phenomenology 31 (2001), pp. 62-77. pp. 71-75 deal with Hölderlin. Photocopy available from me on request. See also his book On Germans and Other Greeks (Indiana University Press, 2001).


5. Readings on Hegel's philosophy of nature

There is a web resource relating to Hegel on nature at http://www.gwfhegel.org/Nature/

Hegel uses a lot of technical terms and when reading him a good accompaniment is to use A Hegel Dictionary, ed. Michael Inwood (Blackwell, 1991) which has listings for many of his terms (e.g. idea, concept, universal, spirit).

Stephen Houlgate (ed.), Hegel and the Philosophy of Nature (SUNY Press, 1998) gives a useful overview of interpretive debates, though it’s often very technical.

Robert Stern, Hegel, Kant, and the Structure of the Object (London: Routledge, 1990), ch. 4. This offers a good summary of Hegel’s theory of nature and explains how he anticipates holism in science.

Alison Stone, ‘Ethical Implications of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature’, in British Journal for the History of Philosophy 10: 2 (2002), pp. 255-272 [copies also available from me, on request!] I try to bring out how Hegel conceives all of nature as having intrinsic value.

Alison Stone, Petrified Intelligence: Nature in Hegel's Philosophy (SUNY Press, 2004). An overall introduction which also looks at the relation between Hegel and environmental philosophy.

Charles Taylor, Hegel (Cambridge University Press, 1975) is very long but gives a good account of Hegel’s place in Romanticism and the chapter on the philosophy of nature isn’t bad for a quick summary.

6. Readings on Nietzsche's conceptions of nature and humanity

For a good understanding of Nietzsche's conception of will to power, two helpful books are

Peter Poellner, Nietzsche and Metaphysics (Oxford University Press, 1995)

John Richardson, Nietzsche's System (Oxford University Press, 1996)

Relative to the other thinkers we have looked at there is already a quite significant body of literature looking at Nietzsche's relation to environmental philosophy:

Graham Parkes, 'Staying Loyal to the Earth: Nietzsche as an Ecological Thinker', in Nietzsche's Futures, ed. John Lippitt (MacMillan, 1998)

---- 'Human/Nature in Nietzsche and Taoism', in Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought, ed. Callicott and Ames (SUNY Press, 1989).

Max Hallman, 'Nietzsche's Environmental Ethics', in Environmental Ethics 13 (1991), pp. 99-125

Ralph Acampora, 'Using and Abusing Nietzsche for Environmental Ethics', Environmental Ethics 16 (1994), pp. 187-194.

Martin Drenthen, 'The Paradox of Environmental Ethics: Nietzsche's View of Nature and the Wild', in Environmental Ethics 21 (1999), pp. 163-175

Various contributions to Nietzsche's Ecology, special section of New Nietzsche Studies 5: 1 (2002).

7. Readings on Heidegger and nature as physis

Heidegger, 'The Question Concerning Technology' and 'Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics' in his Basic Writings, ed. D. Krell

Trish Glazebrook, 'From Physis to Nature, Techne to Technology: Heidegger on Aristotle, Galileo, and Newton', in Southern Journal of Philosophy 2000, vol. XXXVIII (i.e. 38), pp. 95-119 [a photocopy of this is available from me. It is probably the best overall introduction to Heidegger's article on physis in Aristotle and how it relates to his criticism of technology]

Holland, Nancy J. "Rethinking Ecology in the Western Philosophical Tradition: Heidegger and/on Aristotle." Continental Philosophy Review 32 (1999): 409-420. [also discusses Heidegger on Aristotle, though with reference to a different lecture course that Heidegger gave on related aspects of Aristotle's philosophy]

There are also many articles relating Heidegger to environmental and ecological thought. Some are the following:

Colony, Tracy. "Dwelling in the Biosphere? Heidegger's Critique of Humanism and Its Relevance for Ecological Thought." International Studies in Philosophy 31, no. 1 (1999): 37-45.

Foltz, Bruce V. Inhabiting the Earth: Heidegger, Environmental Ethics, and the Metaphysics of Nature. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1995.

Howe, Lawrence W. "Heidegger's Discussion of 'The Thing': A Theme for Deep Ecology." Between the Species 9, no. 2 (1993): 93-96.

Taylor, Charles. "Heidegger, Language, and Ecology." In Heidegger: A Critical Reader, edited by Hubert Dreyfus and Harrison Hall, 247-69. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992.

Michael Zimmermann has written very extensively on Heidegger and environmental philosophy. It is not worth listing all his - very valuable and important - contributions on this here; for a starting point, you could look at

"Heidegger, Buddhism, and Deep Ecology." In The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger, edited by Charles Guignon. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993

and "Toward a Heideggerean Ethos for Radical Environmentalism' in Environmental Ethics 5, no. 3 (Summer 1983): 99-131.

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