Today it is widely recognized that we face urgent and serious environmental problems and we know much about them, yet we do very little. What explains this lack of motivation and change? Why is it so hard to change our lives? This book addresses this question by means of a philosophical inquiry into the conditions of possibility for environmental change. It discusses how we can become more motivated to do environmental good and what kind of knowledge we need for this, and explores the relations between motivation, knowledge, and modernity. After reviewing a broad range of possible philosophical and psychological responses to environmental apathy and inertia, the author argues for moving away from a modern focus on either detached reason and control (Stoicism and Enlightenment reason) or the natural, the sentiments, and the authentic (Romanticism), both of which make possible disengaging and alienating modes of relating to our environment. Instead he develops the notion of environmental skill: a concept that bridges the gap between knowledge and action, re-interprets environmental virtue, and suggests an environmental ethics centered on experience, know-how and skillful engagement with our environment. The author then explores the implications of this ethics for our lives: it changes the way we think about , and deal with, health, food, animals, energy, climate change, politics, and technology.
"A much-needed fresh approach to the environmental concerns of the average person." —Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond, USA
"Environmental ethics often seeks to develop a suitably modern solution to the problems imposed by modernity—solutions rooted in enlightenment thinking and romanticism. Mark Coeckelbergh’s Environmental Skill takes an entirely different approach, demonstrating that it is modernity that is the problem and developing an innovative form of environmental ethics that relies not on better knowledge about the world but more attentive and skill ways of being-in-the-world." —David J. Gunkel, Northern Illinois University, USA
"This new book by Mark Coeckelbergh is an insightful argument for an environmental philosophy that draws on the resources of and at the same time extends work in philosophy of technology. The notion of skilled engagement with the world as this has emerged from pragmatism and phenomenology is here deepened and re-thought in an effort to understand and respond to the challenges of living in a techno-transformed nature." —Carl Mitcham, Colorado School of Mines, USA
"Coeckelbergh’s book stands as a reminder that practicing environmental philosophy always means relating to one’s environment in a certain way and that questioning and skillfully dealing with this relation remains an ongoing task." —Jochem Zwier, Human Studies Journal
"There is much for contemporary environmentalists to find compelling about Coeckelbergh's account, being not only an interesting analysis of the factors at work in motivation but also a convincing and optimistic approach to the problem…It is a welcome and interesting addition to a field in need of voices focused on bringing about meaningful, practical change." —Tara Kennedy, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
1. Introduction Part I: Environmental Motivation and Knowledge: Ancient and Modern Lessons from Philosophy and Psychology 2. The Moral Psychology of Environmental "Sin" 3. Lessons from Contemporary Psychology Part II: The Janus Face of Modern Environmentalism: Enlightenment and Romanticism 4. Enlightenment Reason and Liberation Politics 5. Romantic Feeling for Nature Part III: Beyond, Nature, beyond Modernity, beyond Thinking: A Non-Romantic, Non-Modern Approach 6. Beyond "Nature" and Modernity: Towards Non-Dualistic Thinking 7. Beyond Environmental Thinking (1): Skilled Engagement 8. Beyond Environmental Thinking (2): Exercising Virtue and Moral Sentiment Part IV: Implications for Environmental Ethics and Philosophy of Technology 9. Implications for Environmental Ethics (1): Beyond Walking in "Nature" 10. Implications for Environmental Ethics (2): Exploring the Possibility of Non-Modern and Non-Romantic Environmental Living 11. The Art of Environmental Practice as an Ethics of Skill: Revisiting the Problem of Technology and its Relation to Alienation 12. Conclusion: The Possibility of a New Environmental Ethics