Idealistic Nature: The Literature, Philosophy, and Cognition of Ecology
We are dependent on our environment for survival. But what is “the environment”? This course explores the roots of our understanding of nature and how this understanding is implicated in our social and ethical, as well as ecological, relationships. We consider the debate over the start of the anthropocene—when does human activity begin to substantially affect our planet?—within the context of the long intellectual history of Western conceptions of “man” and “nature.” We start with ancient, medieval, and Renaissance notions of the cosmos; then trace the emergence of mechanistic views of the universe; and end by focusing on representations of nature in documentaries such as Planet Earth.