Saving nature since Earth Day 1970, management, holism, postmodernism, and Merleau-Ponty

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Dubo, D. Nathan
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''Saving'' ''Nature'' ' since Earth Day 1970: Management, Holism Postmodernism and Merleau-Ponty', is concerned with the debate over 'saving nature' that has amen in the put thirty yews. Rather than a rally to unified action, the call to 'save nature' has lead to the proliferation of conflicting discourses, each with its own concept of 'nature' and corresponding 'salvation'. Since the 1970s, the primary contestants amongst these 'solutions' have been the managerial discourse of 'shallow ecology', which calls for 'crisis management', and the holistic discourse of 'deep' ecology, which calls for a shift to holist paradigm. Since the 1980s, however, a third major discourse has been developing; that of postmodern environmentalism. Postmodernism, by focusing on the discursive level of this debate rather than on its 'objects', takes a necessary step back from the tug-of-war over 'nature'ecologists act as if their debate is taking place beneath the realm of language, as if they have direct access to the physical and/or moral order of 'nature itself' postmodernists argue that while nature is ontologically distinct from our language about it, all nature claims are discursive. The world, then, exceeds language, and we are left with an ambiguous (rather than dualist or holist) relation between the foundational binaries of modernity such as nature/culture, antagonisin/harmorty, either/or, etc. Merleau-Ponty, often called the philosopher of ambiguity, offers a position critical of both dualistic and holistic philosophies, and presents an ontology and philosophy of language with important implications for environmental thought. Taken up by a number of postmodern environmental philosophers as offering clues to a way forward from the traditional managerial and holist positions, Merleau-Ponty's work sets the stage for a renewed dialogue with a nature that 'speaks' to us.