Problem-historical Nature and its Purposiveness

Lead Research Organisation: Kingston University
Department Name: Sch of Arts, Culture and Communication


The proposed research is an investigation into the problem of the concept of "nature" in the Western philosophical tradition. It returns to an important but underappreciated debate between Kantianism and Nature Philosophy at the turn of the 19th century and addresses the relevance of this debate's irresolution to the current ecological turn in philosophy (and indeed to the idea of global warming more generally). The supposition is twofold: that the concept of nature has been (and remains) a consistent problem for Western philosophy and Critical Theory; and that nature itself (as the web of life) has become a specifically historical problem in the era of global warming. Proceeding from an analysis of the interconnection of these two problems, this project will go on to construct some means for moving beyond (without ignoring) the philosophical impasse of the former, and the political impasse of the latter. This construction will focus on a secular, post-Kantian concept of "faith" as the proper and necessary correlate to the peculiar object that is the natural world, of which global warming is an historical transformation - one that emerges in and through the actualisation of the bad idea of colonial and industrial capitalisms. The question then becomes:what might we postulate as a good idea; what should/could "we" have faith in? The answer is not simply the end of capitalism, which is itself no simple matter.


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