The question concerning ecology: Heidegger's appropriation of Aristotle on the way to an environmental ethic

Craig Anthony Condella, Fordham University


Though Martin Heidegger never formulates an explicit environmental ethic, his critique of modern technology and its reduction of nature to a perpetually available resource has attracted the attention of a number of environmental ethicists, most of whom fall into the category of deep ecologists. Acknowledging Heidegger's potential (if implicit) environmentalism, I argue that Heidegger's thought does not lead to an eco-friendly consciousness peripherally as one possibility among others, but essentially as a genuine expression of our raising of what Heidegger considers the most important of all questions, the question of Being. I therefore maintain that an environmental ethic grounded in Heidegger's thought must look beyond his later critiques of modern technology and his positing of the fourfold and consider—in addition—his more general considerations of Being and how we might understand and relate ourselves to it in a way that diverges from the path taken by Western metaphysics. This leads me to Heidegger's Aristotle seminars of the 1930's on the Metaphysics and Physics , wherein Heidegger locates a conception of Being in Aristotle's doctrines of du&d12;na miv,3 , n3&d12;rg 3ia , and fu&d12;si v that runs importantly counter to the understanding of Being enacted in our modern technological age. In highlighting the difference between Aristotelian fu&d12;si v and the idea of nature employed by modern science, I subsequently show how this difference paves the way for the rise of modern technology and its resultant ecological crisis. In the end, if modern technology is to be overcome, it will require a rethinking of Being itself. Insofar as Heidegger locates an alternative conception of Being in Aristotle, I take a certain revival of Aristotle to be pivotal in the formulation of a Heideggerian environmentalism, Heidegger's talk of world and earth, the fourfold, and poetic dwelling being reformulations of central Aristotelian themes. In addition to Heidegger and Aristotle, my dissertation deals with Plato, Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Kant, and Newton and appeals to the work of contemporary thinkers such as Michael Zimmerman, Bruce Foltz, Nancy Holland, Thomas Sheehan, Walter Brogan, John van Buren, Ted Sadler, and Helen Lang. ^

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Recommended Citation

Craig Anthony Condella, "The question concerning ecology: Heidegger's appropriation of Aristotle on the way to an environmental ethic" (January 1, 2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3169380.