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


Aug 1

Envy, Greed, and the Common Good

Taught by Fernando Zapata
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $12

Aug 4

*OlioMuse* An Exploration of the String Quartet Across Time

Taught by Whitney George
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $25

Aug 11

*Double Feature* // Modern Art, the Work-Life Balance, and the Gig Economy

Taught by Two Olio Professors
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Aug 17

Thomas Paine and the Flame of Revolution

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at The Old Stone House

Sign Up - $15

Aug 26

1950s & Nostalgia: In Search of Greatness in the "Golden Age"

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7 p.m. at Atlas Studios // Newburgh, NY

Sign Up - $20

Aug 29

Sep 10

Meditations: A Wisdom of the Everyday

Taught by Michael Prettyman
4 p.m. at IDIO Gallery

Sign Up - $10


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