Man's Separation from Nature and Where to Go from Here

Presented with Strand Bookstore

“Decrease in Glacier Mass Balance” uses measurements from 1980-2014 of the average mass balance for a group of glaciers in North Cascade, Washington. Mass balance is the annual budget for the glaciers: total snow accumulation minus total snow ablation. Not only are mass balances consistently negative, they are also continually decreasing. Art and caption by Jill Pelto

Environmental degradation is one of the 21st centuries most pressing concerns. Our unsustainable relationship with Nature is fueled by a long held view in Western thought that Man is separate from Nature. This Olio will attempt to provide a quick historical overview (beginning with Plato and working through the Western philosophical tradition) of the views that support this problematic relationship.  

But knowing that a problem exists isn’t enough. What should be done to deal with it? Currently, the environmental literature is divided on how to best conceptualize the notion of responsibility in environmental crises. I contend there are two main competing schools of thought: (1) the Anthropic (undifferentiated responsibility) and (2) the Environmental Justice (differentiated responsibility).

In this Olio I will briefly summarize these two views and demonstrate their respective strengths and weaknesses and afterwards offer a model of responsibility based heavily on Iris Marion Young’s account that I believe integrates the best features of each approach. My hope is that the discussion will provide us all with a better idea of how we can actually go about discharging our responsibility for environmental harms. 


Recommended reading from Penguin Press:

The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman

“Delightful, revolutionary, and illuminated by the clean, curious gaze of an intelligent seeker, The Genius of Birds is fueled by awe and always, its close cousin, deep respect for the condition of life. It’s a book that demands a moral consideration of the world.” 

—Rick Bass, author of The Ninemile Wolves and For A Little While: New and Selected Stories




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue, the walls lined with leather-bound treasures from a book hand printed in 1480 to a limited edition Ulysses signed by Henri Matisse, the illustrator, and by James Joyce. 


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Other upcoming Olios


Nov 26

*Olio Seminar* The Evolution of Racism

Taught by Angie Beeman
3 p.m. at Neuehouse Madison Sq.

Sign Up - $50

Nov 29

Asteroids Approaching: Delivering Life & Death

Taught by Michael Hamburg
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $12

Dec 4

*Olio Seminar* The Rise and Fall of the American Republic

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $60


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