Contemporary Environmentalism

Decent Essays

Contemporary environmentalism and wilderness culture are often fraught with controversy, saddled with remnants of obsolete ideas which continue to hinder their effectiveness and reception. Firstly, the dominant environmental paradigm is fashioned in part from a mechanistic worldview, a relic of Enlightenment thinking that espouses scientific objectivity. It relies on an underlying dichotomy of wilderness and civilization, and implies superior significance of humans over Nature. Furthermore, it preserves the racist tone of early conservationism.
Much of contemporary environmentalism stems from a mechanistic worldview. Characterized by scientific objectivity, it regards the claims, methods and results of science as undisputable, thus giving rise to the notion of scientific knowledge as power. This is best typified by the mind-body dualism of Descartes which distinguishes the scientific, rational mind as on a higher realm than the natural body. Similarly, Haraway defines Absolute Objectivity as “an external, disembodied point of view” that provides an absolute – and hence, irrefutable – perspective on a given issue. It regards the scientific gaze as an omniscient observer, while “the object of inquiry is passive and stable”. This has staggering consequences for environmentalism. Firstly, it implies a calculability of the world. Adorno and Horkheimer lament that “Mythology has entered the profane”, symbolizing the disdain the mechanistic mind possesses for mystical

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