Arne Naess and the Task of Gestalt Ontology

Diehm, Christian
Environmental Ethics Vol. 28/1 (2006), pages 21-35

While much of Arne Naess’s ecosophy underscores the importance of understanding one’s ecological Self, his analyses of gestaltism are significant in that they center less on questions of the self than on questions of nature and what is other-than-human. Rather than the realization of a more expansive Self, gestalt ontology calls for a “gestalt shift” in our thinking about nature, one that allows for its intrinsic value to emerge clearly. Taking such a gestalt shift as a central task enables Naess to avoid some common criticisms of his view.

Against the Social Construction of Nature and Wilderness

Crist, Eileen,
Environmental Ethics Vol. 26/1 (2004), pages 5-24

The application of constructivism to “nature” and “wilderness” is intellectually and politically objectionable. Despite a proclivity for examining the social underpinnings of representations, constructivists do not deconstruct their own rhetoric and assumptions; nor do they consider what socio-historical conditions support their perspective. Constructivists employ skewed metaphors to describe knowledge production about nature as though the loaded language use of constructivism is straightforward and neutral. They also implicitly rely on a humanist perspective about knowledge creation that privileges the cognitive sovereignty of human subject over nature. Politically, the constructivist approach fails to take the scientific documentation of the biodiversity crisis seriously; it diverts attention toward discourses about the environmental predicament, rather than examining that predicament itself; and it indirectly cashes in on, and thus supports, human colonization of the Earth.

Fabricating Nature: A Critique of the Social Construction of Nature

Kidner, David W.
Environmental Ethics Vol. 22/4 (2000), pages 339-57

Models of nature have usually referred to ecological, or more generally, scientific understandings, and have seldom included cultural factors. Recently, however, there has been a trend toward defining nature as a “social construction,” that is, as an artifact of human social and linguistic capability. I argue that constructionism attempts to assimilate nature to an exclusively anthropocentric “reality,” and that it should be seen as expressing long-term industrialist tendencies to separate the “human” and the “natural” realms and to assimilate the latter to the former. Consequently, the constructionist approach, rather than offering us a fertile means of incorporating cultural influences within environmental theorizing, is better viewed as a cognitive counterpart to industrialism’s physical assimilation of the natural world.