Examines the philosophical thinking and wisdom attending an inherent valuation of the natural environment. Emphasizes critical exploration of the philosophical and natural history writings and/or expressions of primal traditions and seminal thinkers including Thoreau, Muir, Leopold, and Naess. Examines the ongoing philosophical dialogue attending the contemporary environmental crisis.
This course focuses on environmental ontology as a branch of studies that considers the philosophical meaning of “nature” and the “natural status” ascribed by humans to objects, entities, and species. Approaches to nature and ontology are found in several philosophical traditions, from religious and mythical perspectives to scientific, technological and linguistic methods. They include considerations on metaphysics, existence, intrinsic values, biocentrism, essentialism and other themes.
Student learning goals
1. Definition of ontology and fundamental ontological concepts;
2. Overview of ontological theories and philosophical traditions;
3. Understanding of how several disciplines presuppose, but rarely reflect on ontological concepts;
4. Research on contemporary issues and their relation to environmental or ecological ontology.
General method of instruction
Classes combine lectures, readings, discussions, presentations and practical activities. Every student will read the assigned texts, participate in discussions, write protocols and make a class presentation. Presentations will be selected according to the areas of interest of each student. The final research paper should reflect on the practical experiences and make use of complementary readings.
Be prepared to be part of a process in which w will ask hard questions and discuss their implications. What is nature? How do humans relate to nature? What is the status of my pet in this relation? How did Natives define their relation to Mount Tahoma? How do we define nature and the environment? These and other complex questions are to be addressed by “environmental ontology.”
Class assignments and grading
1. Tests/Quizzes (20%); 2. Participation in discussions and activities (20%); 3. Writing of reports (20%); 4. Oral presentation (20%); 5. Final paper (20%).