Phenomenology returns to lived experience as the ground for our understanding of the world. Environmental phenomenology grounds its reflections on nature as it is experienced, seeking to go beyond entrenched conceptualizations of human identity, scientific objectivity, and moral responsibility. From the phenomenological perspective, nature is no longer naturalistic: it no longer names the totality of anthropogenic entities and systems studied by the natural sciences. Nature is rather regarded from the inside; no objective separation between the human subject and nature is presumed – even when nature is recognized in its radical otherness.
In this seminar course, we will focus primarily on a central lineage of ecologically germane concepts arising within the phenomenological tradition: Husserl’s life-world, Heidegger’s earth, Merleau-Ponty’s flesh, and Levinas’s elemental. Our discussions of these concepts will cross many themes: nature’s strangeness and withdrawal, nature’s generosity, the ethical status of nature, the estrangements of modern technology, our sensuous and embodied interactions with nature, nature’s materiality, the relation between science and phenomenology. In the final weeks, we will enter into contemporary ecophenomenology, with a particular focus on the productive alliances that may be forged between environmental phenomenology and kindred fields – feminist thought, animal studies, and indigenous knowledges.