Saturday, February 19, 2011
Philosophy: Objectifying "the" Environment
The problem in the debate about the environment is... well... just that - "the" environment. That we talk this way indicates a mistaken psychology. Speaking of "the" environment says that we have objectified it, made it into a thing other. It is that objectification which radicalizes the debate. Do we or do we not sacrifice to care for this thing. But the environment is not a thing, not in the way a shoe or a rock is a thing. It is not, properly speaking, the environment, but our environment. Our environment emerges out of a vast network of trees, and rocks, and people, our environment extends beyond us, it supports us, and, in shaping us, it is even a part of us. This is not the "our" of possession, but the "our" of inclusion, the our we use to speak of our own bodies - it is in us and we are in it. If we recognize this, the radicalism on both sides should disappear. We could not pretend it was a thing disconnected from us to which we owe no fealty, but we could likewise not see it as some static other to be nobly sacrificed to.