What is Nature?: Culture, Politics and the Non-Human

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9780631188919: What is Nature?: Culture, Politics and the Non-Human
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'This is an excellent book. It addresses what, in both conceptual and political terms, is arguably the most important source of tension and confusion in current arguments about the environment, namely the concept of nature; and it does so in a way that is both sensitive to, and critical of, the two antithetical ways of understanding this that dominate existing discussions.' Russell Keat, University of Edinburgh

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What is Nature? explores the "politics of nature", the demarcations drawn through the concept and its currently contested status. Kate Soper's incisive cultural and historical survey stages an encounter between "nature-endorsing" and "nature-skeptical" perspectives - the one associated with ecological advocacy of nature and the request to respect and conserve it, the other with critiques of its conceptual role in policing social and sexual norms and with the "post-structuralist" focus on its "cultural construction". Her book seeks to pose the question of nature anew, in ways that allow for a resolution of the tensions between these contrary impulses.

In a study which engages with metaphysics, anthropology, sexual theory, environmental ethics and aesthetics of nature, What is Nature? reveals both the reactionary tendencies of a Green politics which ignores the historic and cultural dimensions of "nature", and the incoherence of cultural politics which denies its extra-discursive reality.

This is a work offered to all those who have felt the need for a discussion which registers both the independence of the non-human world and the instability and political effects of the ways it is conceptualized and culturally represented. What is Nature? is designed to appeal to students across a wide range of disciplines, and to give pleasure to anyone who has occasionally pondered on the nature of "nature".

About the Author:

Kate Soper is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of North London. She has worked as a journalist and translator, and has written extensively on politics, philosophy and feminist issues. During the eighties, she was a prominent activist in the END movement. She is a longstanding member of the Radical Philosophy editorial collective. Her previous publications include On Human Needs, Humanism and Anti-Humanism, and Troubled Pleasures.

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