Daoism and Environmental Philosophy : Nourishing Life book cover
1st Edition

Daoism and Environmental Philosophy
Nourishing Life





ISBN 9780367544935
Published August 1, 2022 by Routledge
156 Pages

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Book Description

Daoism and Environmental Philosophy explores ethics and the philosophy of nature in the Daodejing, the Zhuangzi, and related texts to elucidate their potential significance in our contemporary environmental crisis.

This book traces early Daoist depictions of practices of embodied emptying and forgetting and communicative strategies of undoing the fixations of words, things, and the embodied self. These are aspects of an ethics of embracing plainness and simplicity, nourishing the asymmetrically differentiated yet shared elemental body of life of the myriad things, and being responsively attuned in encountering and responding to things. These critical and transformative dimensions of early Daoism provide exemplary models and insights for cultivating a more expansive ecological ethos, environmental culture of nature, and progressive political ecology.

This work will be of interest to students and scholars interested in philosophy, environmental ethics and philosophy, religious studies, and intellectual history.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Early Daoist Ethics and the Philosophy of Nature  2. Nourishing Life, Cultivating Nature, and Environmental Philosophy  3. Wuwei, Responsive Attunement, and Generative Nature  4. Emptying Ecology: Nothingness, Language, and Encountering Things  5. Early Daoist Biopolitics and a New Daoist Political Ecology  6. Epilogue: Emptying Ecology and Chan Buddhism

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Author(s)

Biography

Eric S. Nelson is Professor of Humanities at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He works on Chinese, German, and Jewish philosophy. He is the author of Levinas, Adorno, and the Ethics of the Material Other (SUNY Press, 2020) and Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought (Bloomsbury, 2017). He has published over 75 articles and book chapters and is the editor of Interpreting Dilthey: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2019). He co-edited with François Raffoul the Bloomsbury Companion to Heidegger (Bloomsbury, expanded paperback edition 2016) and Rethinking Facticity (SUNY Press, 2008); with John Drabinski, Between Levinas and Heidegger (SUNY Press, 2014); with Giuseppe D'Anna and Helmut Johach, Anthropologie und Geschichte: Studien zu Wilhelm Dilthey aus Anlass seines 100. Todestages (Königshausen & Neumann, 2013); and with Antje Kapust and Kent Still, Addressing Levinas (Northwestern University Press, 2005).

Reviews

"Daoism and Environmental Philosophy is a timely and stimulating work as we continue to grapple with environmental crises on a global scale, in need of fresh perspectives and new solutions. With a sophisticated textual analysis of both better-known Daoist classics and lesser-known later Daoist texts in the English-speaking world, Nelson counters the perceived opinion that Daoist practice is mystical, irrational, passive, and escapist with robust arguments. He further demonstrates why and how our current environmental crises can benefit from a Daoist-inspired therapeutic ecology, which is cosmological, bio-spiritual, and bio-political all at once. The seemingly contradictory thrusts of anarchical-libertarian individualism, egalitarian democracy, and a weaker version of authoritarianism suggested in Daoist texts in varying degrees may inform a more creative solution to contemporary environment policy and practice."— Ann A. Pang-White, The University of Scranton, Professor of Philosophy and Director of Asian Studies, author of Confucian Four Books for Women and Bloomsbury Research Handbook on Chinese Philosophy and Gender

"An accomplished scholar in European Continental philosophy, Chinese philosophy, and inter-cultural philosophical dialogue, Nelson now presents the pioneering and thought-provoking Daoism and Environmental Philosophy to a wide range of readers facing contemporary environmental crises. The book exhibits the author’s mastery of historical sources including the Daodejing, the Zhuangzi and other Daoist texts, his coming to terms with Daoist linguistic-communicative strategies, and his exploration on various cosmological, ethical, political, personal and religious aspects of the Daoist philosophy of nature characterizing a unique way of environmental thinking. Moreover, Nelson’s inquiry into the environmental implications of Daoist bio-spiritual attunement and cultivation, his reevaluation of Daoist anarchic individualism, egalitarianism and the art of ruling in terms of a reconsideration of ecological politics, and his argument for the Daoist contribution to a critical therapeutic ecology, all unveil the originality of the book, and will leave its impact on our future discussion."— Youru Wang, Professor, Department of Philosophy and World Religions, Rowan University, author of Linguistic Strategies in Daoist Zhuangzi and Chan Buddhism: The Other Way of Speaking, and editor of Deconstruction and the Ethical in Asian Thought

"This is by far the best book I have seen in the field of Daoist environmental philosophy. Through nuanced examinations and interpretations of a variety of classic texts, Nelson presents to readers Daoist concepts, exemplars, models, and transformative strategies in relation to the environment. Insightful, erudite, and articulate, Daoism and Environmental Philosophy makes a substantive contribution on a wide range of topics from the cosmological, ethical, political, and personal, to the religious. I recommend this book to everyone who is interested in learning Daoist philosophy in response to the environmental crisis." – Chenyang Li, Professor of Philosophy, Nanyang Technological University, author of The Tao Encounters the West and The Confucian Philosophy of Harmony

"Eric S. Nelson, in his latest book Daoism and Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life introduces the reader to the environmental approach known to Chinese communities for centuries. In a comprehensive and accurate manner, the author presents the Chinese approach to life and development, the understanding and interpretation of which has changed over the centuries, invariably emphasizing man’s belonging to the world of nature." -  Alicja Dłużewicz, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, in Ethics in Progress journal

"Eric Nelson renews a subject that one might have thought to be hackneyed, even outdated, namely that of the philosophical sources of Chinese environmentalism and their potential contribution to the contemporary re-foundation of the relationship between man and society. nature in the Anthropocene age." - Jean-Yves Heurtebise, Senior Lecturer, Fujen Catholic University (Taiwan), Associate Member Center for French Studies on Contemporary China (CEFC), in Chinese World, Cairn Info

"Eric Nelson’s Daoism and Environmental Philosophy is a landmark study that not only bridges the gap in the studies of Asian ethics but also responds to these demands. It offers an original and convincing interpretation of Daoist environmental ethics and demonstrates its topicality in the face of contemporary posthumanist discussions and the challenges of the current ecological crisis … Nelson’s pluralistic reading of Daoism does not ignore its internal diversity, but it focuses on adopting a systematically coherent understanding of Daoist environmental ethics through the prism of the idea of responsive attunement to things ... Its relevance for Asian studies is not debatable, but it succeeds in achieving something much more: in bringing today’s people closer to the Dao of things."Dawid Rogacz, Assistant Professor of Asian Philosophy at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland

"Eric S. Nelson Daoism and Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life is a comprehensive monograph that carefully analyzes? the relevance of central ethical and political views which are presented in classical Chinese texts generally regarded as early and later Daoism, to our contemporary environmental concerns … this book no doubt greatly contributes to the discussion of how Daoism can offer deeply reflected, meaningful suggestions to contemporary philosophical discourse, as well as how distinctive systems of philosophy originating with other cultures can challenge fundamental assumptions which an existing system is committed to. It is not possible for a single review to fully cover the richness of Nelson's whole argument. This book is recommended for anyone who is interested in Chinese philosophy and what it may still have to say about a wide range of contemporary philosophical issues." - Yumi Suzuki, Institute of Philosophy, University of Bern, Switzerland

"Eric Nelson’s Daoism and Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life unfolds as a concise and lucid guide to the major concepts of Daoism and is an inspiring and innovative exposition of the potential contributions of such concepts to contemporary ecological thinking and living [...] While navigating through rich and diverse sources, Nelson strikes a good balance between reviewing concepts of Daoist philosophy and interpreting their relevance to the ecological concerns of our time, hence rendering the book a thought-provoking read even for non-academic audiences." - Manhua Li, Fudan University, Comparative and Continental Philosophy

"Eric Nelson’s Daoism and Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life unfolds as a concise and lucid guide to the major concepts of Daoism and is an inspiring and innovative exposition of the potential contributions of such concepts to contemporary ecological thinking and living [...] While navigating through rich and diverse sources, Nelson strikes a good balance between reviewing concepts of Daoist philosophy and interpreting their relevance to the ecological concerns of our time, hence rendering the book a thought-provoking read even for non-academic audiences." - Manhua Li, Fudan University, Comparative and Continental Philosophy

"Eric Nelson’s Daoism and Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life unfolds as a concise and lucid guide to the major concepts of Daoism and is an inspiring and innovative exposition of the potential contributions of such concepts to contemporary ecological thinking and living [...] While navigating through rich and diverse sources, Nelson strikes a good balance between reviewing concepts of Daoist philosophy and interpreting their relevance to the ecological concerns of our time, hence rendering the book a thought-provoking read even for non-academic audiences." - Manhua Li, Fudan University, Comparative and Continental Philosophy