Environmental Philosophy and the Question of Origins

By Ashok Karra

serres_biogea coverIn Biogea, the French philosopher Michel Serres attempts to find a softer science, one not as destructive or reductive as the “hard” science some say we practice today. The Enlightenment, the historical root of that hard science, can be thought to have provided the ground for industrialization and a host of other ideas not terribly friendly to the environment. Descartes expressed the hope that we might become “like masters and possessors of nature.” And our current attempts at a greener world seem to be just that, mere attempts. It is not clear they will ever become a more systematic approach to respecting the Earth on which we are born. Further, the dominance of the hard sciences in the academy has almost completely eclipsed the humanities. Nowadays, many works of philosophy put on scientific airs to try to persuade readers. Biogea is primarily a work of environmental philosophy, but it does not take an analytic or demonstrative approach to its subject. Rather, Serres aims to reflect, sharing a number of stories, experiences and musings about encounters with nature. He seems interested in speaking to large questions.

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