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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Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


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Other upcoming Olios


Jan 24

Living Room Salon | Tough Poetry in Dark Times

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

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Jan 31

The Dangerous Pleasure of Art

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

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Feb 1

Feb 2

OlioHouse | Our Stories, Our Bodies: Rape Culture in American History

Taught by Jamie Warren
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Feb 6

Olio Seminar | Space, Time, & Work: Understanding Labor

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

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Feb 9

OlioHouse | The Love Symposium

Taught by Skye Cleary
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Feb 15

A Good Friend is Hard to Find: Philosophy and Friendship

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Feb 21

Living Room Salon | Music and Environmentalism

Taught by Kristy Barbacane
7 p.m. at Living Room

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Feb 22

The Circular Road: Art and the Religious Imagination

Taught by Michael Prettyman
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Feb 25

What Would Buffy Do? Radical Feminism and the Slayer

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Neuehouse Madison Sq.

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Feb 28

Into the Mystic: Music & the Moving Image

Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

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May 17

Rethinking Refugee Trauma and Mental Health

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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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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