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

“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 for our Friday night residency.




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Other upcoming Olios


Mar 27

Urban Development: From Reconstruction to Gentrification

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

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Mar 28

Catfishing: The Artist as Trickster in Factual Fictions

Taught by Ted Barrow
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

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Mar 29

Self-Love or Narcissism?

Taught by Skye Cleary
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Mar 30

Scenius Summit 2019: Apiary Book Launch

Taught by No Professor Weekend
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Apr 5

OlioMuse | Beethoven's Minor Mood

Taught by Gil Harel
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Apr 7

Olio Breakfast Club | Death & Bagels on a Sunday Morning

Taught by Jeanne Proust
10:30 a.m. at North 3rd St. Market - Williamsburg

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Apr 9

Madame(s) X: Muses, Makers, & Shifting Identities

Taught by Ted Barrow
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Apr 13

OlioHouse | Music & The Feast for Senses

Taught by Whitney George
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Apr 23

The Death of Art, The Rise of Image

Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Apr 27

OlioHouse | Found Poetry: Composting Words

Taught by Heather O'Neill
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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May 29

Composing Beauty: Mapplethorpe’s Quest for Perfection

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at BAM Fisher

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