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Philippe Descola “Diversité biologique et diversité culturelle”

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Descola, Philippe 1999. Diversité biologique et diversité culturelle. Aménagement et nature 135: 25-37. http://hdl.handle.net/2042/49113.

Car il ne faut pas se cacher que l’ idée même de protection de la nature est propre à l’Occident moderne en ce qu’elle suppose une dualité clairement établie entre deux domaines ontologiques clairement distingués, les humains d’une part, les non-humains d’autre part, les premiers étant investis de la mission d’assurer la survie des seconds . Autrement dit, une telle conception implique la croyance dans l’ existence d’une nature séparée des activités sociales , peuplée d’ entités soumises à des lois universelles, dont les humains se rendent comme «maîtres et possesseurs », pour reprendre la fameuse expression de Descartes, afin d’en exploiter les ressources et, depuis peu, d’en assurer la préservation. (26)

Protéger les environnements et les espèces menacées en imposant aux humains des devoirs à leur égard – ou en octroyant des droits aux non-humains, comme le souhaitent les avocats de la deep ecology -ne fait qu’ étendre à une nouvelle classe d’êtres les principes juridiques régissant les personnes, sans remettre fondamentalement en cause la séparation moderne entre nature et société. La société est source du droit, les hommes l’ administrent, et c’est parce que les violences à l’ égard des humains sont condamnées que les violences à l’ égard de la nature deviennent condamnables . Rien de tel pour nombre de sociétés prémodernes qui, considérant les plantes et les animaux non pas comme des sujets de droit en tutelle, mais comme des personnes morales et sociales pleinement autonomes, ne se sentent pas plus tenues d’ étendre sur eux leur protection qu’elles ne jugent nécessaire de veiller aux bien-être de distants voisins. (35)

L’idée de protection de l’ environnement porte pourtant en elle, sans doute de façon non intentionnelle, les ferments d’une dissolution du dualisme qui a si longtemps marqué notre vision du monde. Car la survie d’un ensemble sans cesse croissant de non humains, désormais mieux protégés des dommages causés par l’action humaine, devient de plus en plus subordonnée à cette même action humaine, c’est-à­dire aux dispositif s de protection et de prévention élaborés dans le cadre de conventions nationales et international es. Autrement dit, le dualisme de la nature et de la société n’ est plus étanche en ce que les conditions d’existence du panda, de la baleine bleue, de la couche d’ ozone ou de l’Antarctique ne seront bientôt guère plus ‘naturelles’ que ne sont à présent naturelles les conditions d’ existence des espèces sauvages dans les zoo ou des gènes dans les banques de données génétiques . La manière paternaliste dont nous envisageons la protection de la nature s’en trouvera probablement modifiée d’autant, et avec elle l’ idée que le gouvernement des hommes et le gouvernement des choses relèvent de sphères séparées. (36)

[…] Davi, par exemple, un chaman yanomami, lorsqu’il déclare : « nous, nous n’utilisons pas la parole ‘environnement’ . On dit seulement que l’on veut protéger la forêt entière. ‘Environnement’, c’est la parole d’autres gens, c’est une parole de Blancs. Ce que vous nommez ‘environnement’, c’est ce qui reste de ce que vous avez détruit». Une remarque d’une terrible lucidité, qui met à nu la bonne et la mauvaise conscience de l’Occident dans son rapport à une nature-objet constamment partagé entre un discours ‘conservationniste’ et un discours productiviste. (37)

Felix Guattari “The Three Ecologies”

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Guattari, Felix 2000 [1989]. The Three Ecologies. London and New Brunswick: The Athlone Press

So, wherever we turn, there is the same nagging paradox: on the one hand, the continuous development of new techno-scientific means to potentially resolve the dominant ecological issues and reinstate socially useful activities on the surface of the planet, and, on the other hand, the inability of organized social forces and constituted subjective formations to take hold of these resources in order to make them work. (31)

It is in the context of break-up and decentralization, the multiplication of antagonisms and processes of singularization, that the new ecological problematics suddenly appear. (33)

Despite having recently initiated a partial realization of the most obvious dangers that threaten the natural environment of our societies, they are generally content to simply tackle industrial pollution and then form a purely technocratic perspective, whereas only an ethico-political articulation – which I call ecosophy – between the three ecological registers (the environment, social relations and human subjectivity) would be likely to clarify these questions. (27-28)

In the final account, the ecosophic problematic is that of the production of human existence itself in new historical contexts. (34)

Rather than speak of the ’subject’, we should perhaps speak of components of subjectification, each working more or less on its own. […] Vectors of subjectification do not necessarily pass through the individual, which in reality appears to be something like a ‘terminal’ for processes that involve human groups, socio-economic ensembles, data-processing machines, etc. Therefore, interiority establishes itself at the crossroads of multiple components, each relatively autonomous in relation to the other, and, if need be, in open conflict. (36)

Discourse, or any discursive chain, thus becomes the bearer of a non-discursivity which, like a stroboscopic trace, nullifies the play of distinctive oppositions at the level of both content and form of expression. It is only through these repetitions that incorporeal Universes of reference, whose singular events punctuate the progress of individual and collective historicity, can be generated and regenerated. (38)

It is not only species that are becoming extinct but also words, phrases, and gestures of human solidarity. A stifling cloak of silence has been thrown over the emancipatory struggles of women, and of the new proletariat: the unemployed, the ‘marginalized’, immigrants. (44)

While the logic of discursive sets endeavours to completely delimit its objects, the logic of intensities, or eco-logic, is concerned only with the movement and intensity of evolutive processes. […] This process of ‘fixing-into-being’ relates only to expressive subsets that have broken out of their totalizing frame and have begun to work on their own account, overcoming their referential sets and manifesting themselves as their own existential indices, processual lines of flight. (44)

Ecological praxes strive to scout out the potential vectors of subjectification and singularization at each partial existential locus. They generally seek something that runs counter to the ‘normal’ order of things, a counter-repetition, an intensive given which invokes other intensities to form new existential configurations. (45)

Post-industrial capitalism, which I prefer to describe as Integrated World Capitalism (IWC), tends increasingly to decentre its sites of power, moving away from structures producing goods and services towards structures producing signs, syntax and – in particular, through the control which it exercises over the media, advertising, opinion polls, etc. – subjectivity. (47)

I would propose grouping together four main semiotic regimes, the mechanisms [instruments] on which IWC is founded:

1) Economic semiotics (monetary, financial, accounting and decision-making mechanisms);

2) Juridical semiotics (title deeds, legislation and regulations of all kinds);

3) Techno-scientific semiotics (plans, diagrams, programmes, studies, research, etc.);

4) Semiotics of subjectification, of which some coincide with those already mentioned, but to which we should add many others, such as those relating to architecture, town planning, public facilities, etc. (48)

IWC forms massive subjective aggregates from the most personal – one could even say infra-personal – existential givens, which it hooks up to ideas of race, nation, the professional workforce, competitive sports, a dominating masculinity, mass-media celebrity … Capitalistic subjectivity seeks to gain power by controlling and neutralizing the maximum number of existential refrains. It is intoxicated with and anaesthetized by a collective feeling of pseudo-eternity. (50)

Ecology must stop being associated with the image of a small nature-loving minority or with qualified specialists. Ecology in my sense questions the whole of subjectivity and capitalistic power formations, whose sweeping progress cannot be guaranteed to continue as it has for the past decade. (52)

The principle specific to mental ecology is that its approach to existential Territories derives from a pre-objectal and pre-personal logic of the sort that Freud has described as being a ‘primary process’. (54)

It will be less a question of taking stock of these practices in terms of their scientific veracity than according to their aesthetico-existential effectiveness. What do we find? What existential scenes establish themselves there? The crucial objective is to grasp the a-signifying points of rupture – the rupture of denotation, connotation and signification – from which a certain number of semiotic chains are put to work in the service of an existential autoreferential effect. (56)

The principle specific to social ecology concerns the development of affective and pragmatic cathexis [investissement] in human groups of different sizes. (60)

In the first instance, the Self and other are constructed through a set of stock identifications and imitations, which result in primary groups that are refolded on the father, the boss, or the mass-media celebrity – this is the psychology of the pliable masses upon which the media practices. In the second instance, identificatory systems are replaced by traits of diagrammatic efficiency. […] A diagrammatic trait, as opposed to an icon, is characterized by the degree of its deterritorialization, its capacity to escape from itself in order to constitute discursive chains directly chains directly in touch with the referent. (60)

Capitalist societies […] produce […] three types of subjectivity. Firstly, a serial subjectivity corresponding to the salaried classes, secondly, to the huge mass of the ‘uninsured’ [non-garantis] and finally an elitist subjectivity corresponding to the executive sectors. (61)

An essential programmatic point for social ecology will be to encourage capitalist societies to make the transition from the mass-media era to a post-media age, in which the media will be reappropriated by a multitude of subject-groups capable of directing its resingularization. (61)

Spontaneous social ecology works towards the constitution of existential Territories that replace, more or less, the former religious and ritualized griddings of the socius. (64)

[…] the question becomes one of how to encourage the organization of individual and collective ventures, and how to direct them towards an ecology of resingularization. (65)

There is a principle specific to environmental ecology: it states that anything is possible – the worst disasters or the most flexible evolutions. Natural equilibriums will be increasingly reliant upon human intervention, and a time will come when vast programmes will need to be set up in order to regulate the relationship between oxygen, ozone and carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. We might just as well rename environmental ecology machinic ecology, because Cosmic and human praxis has only ever been a question of machines, even, dare I say it, of war machines. (66)

[…] we will only escape from the major crises of our era through the articulation of:

–          a nascent subjectivity

–          a constantly mutating socius

–          an environment in the process of being reinvented. (68)

Their [the three ecologies] different styles are produced by what I call heterogenesis, in other words, processes of continuous resingularization. Individuals must become both more united and increasingly different. (69)

Bruno Latour “What is the Style of Matters of Concern?”

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Latour, Bruno 2008. What is the Style of Matters of Concern? Assen: Van Gorcum

[…] naturalisation is what happens when you try to transport, to transfer the “senseless hurrying of matter” from the nature bank to the social or human side. That is when you treat the human with the strange notion of primary qualities handed down to you by the already bifurcated nature. (15)

But remember that society is not a word specifying in advance the type of associations – as if human societies were different from plant, plankton, stellar or atomic societies – only that it’s necessary to associate with others in order to remain in existence. (16)

[…] the more you remain close to language, the further away you are from reference […] (18)

[…] we have to consider two more crucial inventions made by Tarde in his efforts to redefine sociology. The first is that there is, in fact, a difference between human and non-human societies. But this is not what you might think; it’s a difference of numbers not of kinds; paradoxically, non-human societies are much more numerous than human societies. […] we have a much more intimate knowledge of human societies than we have of other non-human societies viewed from the outside and so to speak in bulk, or statistically. […] when a society is seen from far away and in bulk it seems to have structural features, that is a set of characteristics that floats beyond, or beneath the multiplicity of its members. But when a society is seen from the inside, it’s made up of differences and of events and all its structural features are provisional amplifications and simplifications of those linkages. (18-19)

[…] the sciences (in the plural) are adding differences of equipment and attention to the world; they are not what allows us to jump to the other side of the bank smack in the middle of the primary qualities […] (23)

[…] how did we manage to behave as if Nature had “bifurcated” into primary qualities – which, if you remember, are real, material, without value and goals and only known through totally unknown conduits – and secondary qualities which are nothing but “psychic additions” projected by the human mind onto a meaningless world of pure matter and which have no external reality although they carry goals and values. How did we succeed in having the whole of philosophy reduced to a choice between two meaninglessnesses: the real but meaningless matter and the meaningful but unreal symbol? (36)

What we have to do, if we want to be faithful to what William James called radical empiricism, is to deny the claims of the “bifurcates” in the first place to represent common sense and to speak in the name of science. We don’t have, on the one hand, a harsh world made of indisputable matters of fact and, on the other, a rich mental world of human symbols, imaginations and values. The harsh world of matters of fact is an amazingly narrow, specialized, type of scenography using a highly coded type of narrative, gazing, lighting, distance, a very precise repertoire of attitude and attention […] (38)

A matter of concern is what happens to a matter of fact when you add to it its whole scenography, much like you would do by shifting your attention from the stage to the whole machinery of a theatre. (39)

It is the same world, and yet, everything looks different. Matters of fact were indisputable, obstinate, simply there; matters of concern are disputable, and their obstinacy seems to be of an entirely different sort: they move, they carry you away, and, yes, they too matter. (39)

Without the experience of being tricked by painting in taking a “plane variously coloured” for a “convex figure”, philosophers would never have sustained for long the idea that the world itself could be made of primary streams of causalities that our mind transforms into non existing secondary qualities. Similarly, without the obsessive metaphor of painting, epistemologists never would have imagined that in science there are only two steps – a copy and a model – and a mimetic relation between the two. To put it much too bluntly: the idea of a bridge between representation and the represented is an invention of visual art. (41)

The question before us is to see how can we suspend this “fraudulent export” of ways of knowing (in Ivins’s rendering: drawing in perspective) into the relations inter se among betting organisms. (46)

Specification one: Matters of concern have to matter. Matters of fact were distorted by the totally implausible necessity of being pure stuff of no interest whatsoever – just sitting there like a mummified limb – while at the same time being able to “make a point”, humiliate human subjectivity, speak directly without speech apparatus and quieten dissenting voices. (47)

Specification two: Matters of concern have to be liked. The great Act I scene I of table thumping realists was that matters of fact were there “whether you like it or not”. […] It is fair to say that the whole first wave of empiricism had an odd way of conceiving democracy and was rather a clever way of escaping controversies by putting a premature end to them. (47)

Specification three: Matters of concern have to be populated. (48)

Specifications four: Matters of concern have to be durable. […] Facts are not the ahistorical, uninterpreted and asocial beginning of a course of action, but the extraordinary fragile and transient provisional terminus of a whole flow of betting organisms whose reproductive means have to be made clear and paid to the last cent in hard currency. Endurance is what has to be obtained, not what is already given by some substrate, or some substance. (48-49)

Kalevi Kull “Semiotic Ecology”

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Kull, Kalevi 1998. Semiotic ecology: different natures in the semiosphere. – Sign Systems Studies 26: 344-371

The ecological processes and dumping grounds enfold both Umwelt and Innenwelt, their real sphere is the semiosphere. Therefore, without understanding the semiotic mechanisms which determine the place of nature in different cultures, one has little hope of solving many serious environmental problems, and of finding the stable place of culture in nature. (346)

To describe the realm of biosemiotics, J. Hoffmeyer (1996a: 96) builds a triangle which consists of culture, external nature, and internal nature. According to Hoffmeyer, the relationship between culture and internal nature is the sphere of psychosomatics, the relationship between internal and external nature is the field of biosemiotics, and the relationship between culture and external nature is the environmental sphere. This latter can also be named an ecosemiotic area. (350)

Biosemiotics is defined as an analysis of living systems as sign systems, the origin of sign being one of the problems in its competence. It investigates semiosis in the living which is much broader than human life, i.e. which exists beyond the mental (conscious) life, assuming the semiotic threshold to be close to where life begins. (350)

Ecosemiotics can be defined as the semiotics of relationships between nature and culture. This includes research on the semiotic aspects of the place and role of nature for humans, i.e. what is and what has been the meaning of nature for us, humans, how and in what extent we communicate with nature. Ecosemiotics deals with the semiosis going on between a human and its ecosystem, or a human in ones ecosystem. (350)

Ecosemiotics can be considered as a part of the semiotics of culture, which investigates human relationships to nature which have a semiosic (sign-mediated) basis, whereas biosemiotics can be seen as different from the cultural semiotic field. (351)

Ecosemiotics describes the appearance of nature as dependent on the various contexts or situations. It includes nature’s structure as it appears, its classification (syntactics); it describes what it means for people, what there is in nature (semantics); and it finds out the personal or social relation to the components of nature, which can be one’s participation in nature (pragmatics). In all this, it includes the role of memory and the relationships between different types of (short-term, long-term, etc.) memory in culture. Due to considering the evolutionary aspect, ecosemiotics also extends to non-human systems. (351)

As a result of the differences humans can make, the nature in their Umwelt is distinguished into first, second, and third nature; what we think is outside the Umwelt, can be called zero nature. Zero nature is nature itself (e.g., absolute wilderness). First nature is the nature as we see, identify, describe and interpret it. Second nature is the nature which we have materially interpreted, this is materially translated nature, i.e. a changed nature, a produced nature. Third nature is a virtual nature, as it exists in art and science. (355)

Zero nature, at least when living, is changing via ontological semiosis, or via physiosemiosis if applying J. Deely’s term. The first nature is nature as filtered via human semiosis, through the interpretations in our social and personal knowledge. This is categorised nature. The second nature is changing as a result of ‘material processes’ again, this is a ‘material translation’ in the form of true semiotic translation, since it interconnects the zero and the first (or third), controlling the zero nature on the basis of the imaginary nature. The third nature is entirely theoretical or artistic, non-natural nature-like nature, built on the basis of the first (or third itself) with the help of the second. (355)

The logical relationships between the four natures (from zero to the third) can be represented as dealing with the (creation) processes between nature and its image (construct, or schema), through a simple combinatorics:

0 – zero nature is – nature from nature

1 – first nature is – image from nature

2 – second nature is – nature from image

3 – third nature is – image from image (357)

Timo Maran “Lokaalsuse ökosemiootilised alused”

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Maran, Timo 2002. Lokaalsuse ökosemiootilised alused. – Koht ja paik. Toim. Sarapik, Virve; Tüür, Kadri; Laanemets, Mari. Eesti Kunstiakadeemia Toimetised 10. Tallinn: Eesti Kunstiakadeemia: 81-92.

Lokaalsuse all mõistan ma siin semiootiliste struktuuride omadust seonduda ümbritsevaga nõnda, et neid pole võimalik oma keskkonnast eraldada, ilma et seejuures muutuks oluliselt nende struktuur või selles struktuuris sisalduv informatsioon. (82)

Juhul, kui me lähtume organismi ja keskkonna suhte vaatlemisel semiootilisest paradigmast, muutub elusorganismi lokaliseeritus konkreetses keskkonnas esmatähtsaks  ümbritseva keskkonna omadused saavad siin subjekti interpreteeriva tegevuse ehk semioosi allikaks ja mõjutajaks. Keskkond annab elusorganismile ette tunnusjooned, millest lähtudes saab organism kui subjekt keskkonnaelementidele enesekohaseid tähendusi omistada. (84)

Mehhanismina, mis lubab subjekti ja keskkonna vaheliste vastavuste kujunemist ehk adapteerumist, võib vaadelda iga tagasisidemel põhinevat subjekti ja keskkonna vahelist kommunikatsioonimudelit. (85)

Siinkohal on tarvilik rõhutada erisust mõistete semiootiline kohasus ja kohanemisvõime vahel. Erinevalt kohanemisvõimest, mis on subjekti omadus, näidates ta potentsiaali erinevate keskkondadega kohaneda, on semiootiline kohasus subjekti ja keskkonna seost iseloomustav suurus. Sidudes ennast konkreetse keskkonnaga, suureneb subjekti–keskkonna seose semiootiline kohasus, ent samas väheneb subjekti edasine kohanemisvõime (joon 2). Keskkonnaga kohanedes lokaliseerib subjekt ennast keskkonda, seega näitab semiootiline kohasus lokaliseerituse intensiivsust. Ühel poolt näitab semiootiline kohasus, kuivõrd on subjektil õnnestunud endapärast ja keskkonnapärast informatsiooni vastavusse viia, teisalt aga üsna paratamatult, kuivõrd muutub subjekti struktuur tema eraldamisel keskkonnast. (86)

Kontekst kui märki või teksti ümbritsev struktuursus mõjutab ja määratleb nii märgi vormilisi aspekte kui ka võimalike tähendusi, mida subjekt võib märgile omistada. Kontekst jääb väljapoole märki, määratledes seejuures märgi piiri ja omadusi nii semiootiliste seoste kui nende puudumise (välistav määratlus) kaudu. (87)

Konteksti määrava mõju kirjeldamisel on oluliseks piirangute (restraints) kontseptsioon, mis on semiootilisse paradigmasse laenatud küberneetikast. Selle vaate alusel toob kontekst endas sisalduva märgi suhtes kaasa informatsioonilise liiasuse (redundancy restraints), millest lähtuvalt on võimalik määratleda märgi võimalikke tähendusi, ent samuti võib märk kanda endas informatsiooni oma kasutamise konteksti suhtes. (87)

Samuti määrab igasugune juba toimiv semiootiline protsess osaliselt kindlaks sellesama protsessi edasised arenguvõimalused – ajalisele teljele laienduva konteksti mõju. (87)

Subjekt, kes oma semiootilise tegevusega kehtestab ümbritseva konteksti suhtes informatsioonilise liiasuse, muudab seeläbi ümbritseva konteksti enese jaoks väärtuslikuks. Semiootiline kohasus ja konteksti või keskkonna väärtuslikkus ei saa olla keskkonda iseloomustavad objektiivsed parameetrid, pigem tulenevad need subjekti eksisteerimisest ja semiootilisest tegevusest konkreetses keskkonnas. (88)

[..] nn liiase informatsiooni hulk, mis seob subjekti tema keskkonnaga, kasvab põliskultuuris aja jooksul. Informatsiooni kogunemisel muutuvad keskkonnaprotsessid indiviidile etteennustatavateks, mis teeb ka võimalikuks usalduse tekkimise keskkonna vastu. Mida kauem on kultuur või indiviid samas keskkonnas püsinud, seda suurem on keskkonna osa tema enesemäärangutes ja seda enam on ta kohanenud suhtlema paikkondliku keskkonnaga. (88)

Globaalne kultuur on eneseküllane, omandades identiteedi abstraktsete, enesest väljapoole projekteeritud ideede ja väärtushinnangute kaudu nagu üldinimlikud väärtused, sümbolid, ideaalid. Lokaalse kultuuri tähelepanu on seevastu enam suunatud ümbritsevale keskkonnale, teda iseloomustavad eripärasused tulenevad valdavalt seosest keskkonnaga. (89)

Sedavõrd kui kultuur haarab endasse loodust, teeb loodust enda omaks ja tähenduslikuks, muutub kultuur ise selle looduse ja tema konkreetsete paikade nägu. Niivõrd, kui on kultuur omistanud loodusele tähendust, on ta ise muutunud selle looduse päraseks. (90)

Winfried Nöth “Ecosemiotics and the Semiotics of Nature”

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Nöth, Winfried 2001. Ecosemiotics and the Semiotics of Nature. – Sign Systems Studies 29.1: 71-81

At the interface between semiotics and ecology, ecosemiotics is the study of environmental semioses, i.e., the study of sign processes which relate organisms to their natural environment. (71)

Communication, defined as a sign process which involves a sender and a receiver, occurs not only among humans, but also between all other organisms throughout the whole biosphere. Not only cultural semiotics, but also bio- and zoosemiotics are hence concerned with processes of communication. Signification, by contrast, which concerns sign processes without a sender, predominates in ecosemiotics, where organisms interact with a natural environment that does not function as the intentional emitter of messages to the interpreting organism. (72)

Ecosemiotics will have to be an approach to semiosis based on the assumption of a very low „semiotic threshold“ between signs and non-signs if it does not reject such a threshold altogether. (72)

Ecosemiotics in this vein [for example the structuralist tradition] is hence the study of the culturalization of nature. Let us call this approach cultural ecosemiotics. (73)

Mind, thought, and semiosis are basically synonyms to Peirce. His radical thesis is: wherever there is semiosis, there is mind. Mind is not only in humans, but also in their natural environment. Peirce did not even believe in a dualism between matter and mind. Instead, he defended the general principle of continuity from nature to mind, which he called synechism. Instead of an opposition, there is continuity between the mind and the natural environment. (75)

But how can teleology be at work in the interpretation of natural signs without a sender? In communication, as we have seen, teleology is rather evident since there is a purpose of a sign producer and an interpreter’s effort to understand as the guiding principles of semiosis. In the interpretation of natural signs, the teleological effect comes from the dynamical object, from the semiotic control which the natural object exerts on the outcome of sign interpretation, the interpretant. (77-78)

[…] Jakob von Uexküll […]abandoned the dualism between the inner and the outer world with his constructivist thesis that the organism’s inner world contains a cognitive model of its outer world so that the natural environment can so to speak be found within, and not, outside of the organism. (78)

Frans C. Verhagen “Worldviews and Metaphors …”

September 8, 2011 1 comment

Verhagen, Frans C. 2008. Worldviews and Metaphors in the Human-Nature Relationship: An Ecolinguistic Exploration Through the Ages. – Language & Ecology vol. 2 no. 3

THE ANTHROPOCENTRIC WORLDVIEW

Nature as scala naturae

Generally translated as the Chain of Being, scala naturae, which literally means the Ladder or Stairway of Nature, goes back to classical Greek culture. (4)

Nature as machine

This metaphor, which also represents human dominion over Nature, separates pre-modern and modern views of the human-Nature relationship. It may be considered to construe and communicate the major content of the present day worldview in the Western world.  (5)

In sum, the Nature as machine metaphor views the Earth not as an animate creature, but as a vast machine which, initially, was believed to be created and maintained by the Great Engineer, but which was later explained to be maintained by scientific processes. With the advancement of the industrial age and its factory system, the machine metaphor and its several variants became ever more entrenched in the predominantly mechanistic mode of thinking of Western societies. (6-7)

THE BIOCENTRIC WORLDVIEW

Nature as mother

While the metaphor of Nature as mother had mostly disappeared by the 17th century, today it has re-emerged in the Gaia theory, named after the Greek Earth goddess, Gaia. The Gaia theory considers the Earth to be a self-organizing or autopoietic organism, not an object, but a subject. It assumes that life is characterized by a striving against the pressures of entropy and, therefore, that it organizes itself to overcome entropy and disorder. (7)

Nature as web

Nature as web refers to the interdependence of all Earth beings or, considering Nature in its cosmic dimension, the interdependence of all Being. […]Implicit in the metaphor, Nature as web, is the notion of biocentric equality. Similar to Thoreau’s vast community of equals, it holds all organisms and entities in the biosphere to be parts of an interrelated whole and, therefore, equal in intrinsic worth. (8-9)

Nature as measure

Nature as measure is a metaphor that has been used throughout the ages to characterize Nature as a guide for human endeavor or as a standard against which to measure human endeavor. (9)