The Philosophical Foundations of Ecological Civilization: A manifesto for the future, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Philosophical Foundations of Ecological Civilization

A manifesto for the future, 1st Edition

By Arran Gare


260 pages

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The global ecological crisis is the greatest challenge humanity has ever had to confront, and humanity is failing. The triumph of the neo-liberal agenda, together with a debauched ‘scientism’, has reduced nature and people to nothing but raw materials, instruments and consumers to be efficiently managed in a global market dominated by corporate managers, media moguls and technocrats. The arts and the humanities have been devalued, genuine science has been crippled, and the quest for autonomy and democracy undermined. The resultant trajectory towards global ecological destruction appears inexorable, and neither governments nor environmental movements have significantly altered this, or indeed, seem able to. The Philosophical Foundations of Ecological Civilization is a wide-ranging and scholarly analysis of this failure.

This book reframes the dynamics of the debate beyond the discourses of economics, politics and techno-science. Reviving natural philosophy to align science with the humanities, it offers the categories required to reform our modes of existence and our institutions so that we augment, rather than undermine, the life of the ecosystems of which we are part. From this philosophical foundation, the author puts forth a manifesto for transforming our culture into one which could provide an effective global environmental movement and provide the foundations for a global ecological civilization.


"Gare’s outstanding environmental Manifesto should be widely meditated at a time of looming human extinction. By philosophers; who so often tend to forget their Socratic roots. By academics, so that they may recover a healthy sense of duty and reverence for life in general, and education in particular. By scientists, of course, in order to come to grips with the presuppositions and the too many nefarious consequences of their discipline. And, perhaps more importantly, by educated people. Gare’s common-sensical and pragmatic approach —albeit sophisticated— is urgently needed to trigger a cultural epoch adequate to the current challenges."

Dr. Michel Weber, The Centre for Philosophical Practice.

"Arran Gare has written a passionate, urgently needed, and compelling manifesto to help us avoid a global, imminent, ecological catastrophe. Widely and deeply researched, this book is a challenge and a wake-up call for philosophers and non-philosophers alike. He joins theory and practice to show the inadequacy of most contemporary philosophies and economic/political policies for creating "an ecologically sustainable civilization."

William S. Hamrick,Southern Illinois University.

"In the modern value free research university, history of any kind is reduced to information about this or that past event. The effort to understand what is happening by describing the way the present has come to be has been largely excluded at a time when such understanding is essential for wise response to unprecedented global crises. When universities awaken from their dogmatic slumber, Gare's account of the history of thought will become the classic basis for building new institutions responding to urgent needs."

John Cobb Jr.,Claremont School of Theology.

"Gare’s Manifesto is a clarion sounding against nihilism. Prevailing technoscience is a monism built upon minimalist models that yields only heat death in the long term and human extirpation in the more immediate future. Gare posits instead a "speculative naturalism" that explores a dialectical worldview in terms of those feedbacks among social and material processes that provide meaning and ‘happiness’ in terms of a life fulfilled. A philosophical and ecological guide to survival in necrophilic times!"

Robert E. Ulanowicz, University of Florida.

"In his sweeping survey of the damage done to Life and Thought by the predominant modern interpretation of naturalism called scientism, Arran Gare outlines a radically nonmodern `speculative naturalism. To this end Gare examines the shortcomings of numerous modern philosophical movements that have proved to be impotent in the face of destructive socio-economic doctrines---such as a voracious and parasitic form of capitalism. Maintaining that a genuinely comprehensive philosophy of nature may yet result in more responsible attitudes towards Nature and all its creatures, Gare holds out some hope for a self-destructive civilization on the verge of immanent collapse."

Murray Code, Guelph University.

"From a scientific perspective, Arran Gare in this work struggles with problems raised by the mutually reinforcing practices of Newtonian science and analytical philosophy, which have motivated the ascendency of ‘technoscience’ and the eclipse of a more holistic ‘ecological science’. His own perspective on science-in-society emerges from a generally phenomenological viewpoint. Taking a dialectical stance, he urges that our conceptual world needs to get beyond focus on Analysis and some timid tentative Synopses. Intellectual work needs instead to go all the way toward forming working Syntheses which can serve as guiding frameworks for scientific investigations. He urges Speculative Naturalism, in the form founded by Schelling, which transcends both British analytical philosophy and French structuralism as being suitable for guiding scientific inquiry. This would place scientific investigations in a generally developmental framework, which would be accessible as well to perspectives in the humanities as a philosophy of science. Then, as well, importantly, such an approach potentially presents a framework informative for environmentalism. This latter connection points toward the goal of creating an ‘ecological civilization’."

Stanley Salthe, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

Looking at the work overall, it is clear that the years have not dimmed Gare’s breadth of interests or intellectual ambition… It is an impressive, clearly targeted and far reaching philosophical work, and deserves a significant audience. - PIERS H.G. STEPHENS, University of Georgia, USA. From Environmental Values, Vol. 28, Number 2, April 2019

"On the whole, Gare’s book positively challenges dominant modes of contemporary thought within and beyond the academy, and he develops an alluring alternative—one that will be challenging to realize."- Alexander Haitos, PROCESS STUDIES 47.1-2 (2018). University of Illinois Press

Table of Contents


1. The Ultimate Crisis of Civilization: Why Turn to Philosophy

2. From Analytic Philosophy to Speculative Naturalism

3. Dialectics: From Marx to Post-Marxism

4. The Dialectics of Speculative Naturalism

5. Reviving the Radical Enlightenment Through Speculative Naturalism

6. From the Radical Enlightenment to Ecological Civilization: Creating the Future

Conclusion: Ecological Civilization and ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’

About the Author

Arran Gare is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Inquiry at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Environmental Humanities

From microplastics in the sea to hyper-trends such as global climate change, mega-extinction, and widening social disparities and displacement, we live on a planet undergoing tremendous flux and uncertainty. At the center of this transformation is human culture, both contributing to the state of the world and responding to planetary change. The Routledge Environmental Humanities Series seeks to engage with contemporary environmental challenges through the various lenses of the humanities and to explore foundational issues in environmental justice, multicultural environmentalism, ecofeminism, environmental psychology, environmental materialities and textualities, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, environmental communication and information management, multispecies relationships, and related topics. The series is premised on the notion that the arts, humanities, and social sciences, integrated with the natural sciences, are essential to comprehensive environmental studies.

The environmental humanities are a multidimensional discipline encompassing such fields as anthropology, history, literary and media studies, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, and women’s and gender studies; however, the Routledge Environmental Humanities is particularly eager to receive book proposals that explicitly cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing the full force of multiple perspectives to illuminate vexing and profound environmental topics. We favor manuscripts aimed at an international readership and written in a lively and accessible style. Our readers include scholars and students from across the span of environmental studies disciplines and thoughtful citizens and policy makers interested in the human dimensions of environmental change.

Please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]), to submit proposals.

Praise for A Cultural History of Climate Change (2016):

A Cultural History of Climate Change shows that the humanities are not simply a late-arriving appendage to Earth System science, to help in the work of translation. These essays offer distinctive insights into how and why humans reason and imagine their ‘weather-worlds’ (Ingold, 2010). We learn about the interpenetration of climate and culture and are prompted to think creatively about different ways in which the idea of climate change can be conceptualised and acted upon beyond merely ‘saving the planet’.

Professor Mike Hulme, King's College London, in Green Letters

Series Editors:

Professor Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA

Professor Joni Adamson, Arizona State University, USA

Professor YUKI Masami, Kanazawa University, Japan

Previous editors:

Professor Iain McCalman, University of Sydney Research Fellow in History; Director, Sydney University Environment Institute.

Professor Libby Robin, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra; Guest Professor of Environmental History, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Sweden.

Dr Paul Warde, Reader in Environmental History, University of Cambridge, UK

Editorial Board

Christina Alt, St Andrews University, UK, Alison Bashford, University of New South Wales, Australia, Peter Coates, University of Bristol, UK, Thom van Dooren, University of New South Wales, Australia, Georgina Endfield, Liverpool UK, Jodi Frawley, University of Western Australia, Andrea Gaynor, The University of Western Australia, Australia, Christina Gerhardt, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, USA,□Tom Lynch, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA, Jennifer Newell, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia , Simon Pooley, Imperial College London, UK, Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Ann Waltner, University of Minnesota, US, Jessica Weir, University of Western Sydney, Australia

International Advisory Board

William Beinart,University of Oxford, UK, Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago, USA, Paul Holm, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Shen Hou, Renmin University of China, Beijing, Rob Nixon, Princeton University, USA, Pauline Phemister, Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, UK, Sverker Sörlin, KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Helmuth Trischler, Deutsches Museum, Munich and Co-Director, Rachel Carson Centre, LMU Munich University, Germany, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, USA, Kirsten Wehner, University of London, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology
PHILOSOPHY / Political