The question concerning the environment: a Heideggerian approach to environmental philosophy : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Philosophy at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis will engage with the thinking of Martin Heidegger in order to show that our environmental problems are the necessary consequences of our way of 'knowing' the world. Heidegger questions the abstract, theoretical approach that the Western tradition has to 'knowledge', locating 'knowledge' in the human 'subject', an interior self, disengaged from and standing over against the other-than-human world, as external 'object'. Such an approach denies a voice to the other-than-human in the construction of 'knowledge'. Heidegger maintains that we are not a disembodied intellect, but rather we are finite, self-interpreting beings, embodied in a physical, social and historical context, for whom things matter. In view of this, he discards traditional notions of 'knowledge', in favour of understanding and interpretation. Accordingly, he develops what can be called a dialectical ontology, whereby we come to understand and interpret ourselves and other beings in terms of our involved interactions. This involved understanding acknowledges the participation of other-than-human beings in constructing an interpretation of the world, giving them a voice. Following Heidegger's way of thinking, I suggest that by developing an ontological-ethic, a way of dwelling-in-the-world based on a responsive engagement with other-than- human entities, we can disclose a world that makes both the other-than- human and humanity possible.
Heidegger, Martin 1889-1976, Ontology, Human ecology, Philosophy, Environmental ethics