Nietzsche and the paradox of environmental ethics: Nietzsche's view of nature and morality

New Nietzsche Studies 5 (1/2):12-25 (2002)
In this paper, I offer a systematic inquiry into the significance of Nietzsche's philosophy to environmental ethics. Nietzsche's philosophy of nature is, I believe, relevant today because it makes explicit a fundamental ambiguity that is also characteristic of our current understanding of nature. I show how the current debate between traditional environmental ethics and postmodern environmental philosophy can be interpreted as a symptom of this ambiguity. I argue that, in light of Nietzsche's critique of morality, environmental ethics is a highly paradoxical project. According to Nietzsche, each moral interpretation of nature implies a conceptual seizure of power over nature. On the other hand, Nietzsche argues, the concept of nature is indispensable in ethics because we have to interpret nature in order to have a meaningful relation with real ity. I show that awareness of this paradox opens a way for a form of respect for nature as radical otherness.
Keywords Nietzsche  Environmental ethics  Environmental philosophy
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DOI 10.5840/newnietzsche200251/22
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