Wilderness, Wasteland, and Homeland

Ethical Perspectives 14 (4):457-478 (2007)
Abstract
Judging a place as wasteland or homeland is a matter of perspective: presupposed values, knowledge through acquaintance, and comportment. Therefore, contra Martin Drenthen, the value of wilderness is a judgement call, not a conceptual necessity. I show this by first distinguishing wilderness from “wildness,” then culture from civilization, and finally, by situating Nietzsche’s teachings of the will to power in the context of a devalued world-view.Nevertheless, I agree with Drenthen that some understandings of wilderness are more appropriate than others. When wild nature is understood to be “good” in an axiologically transcendent sense, morality and humanness per se are not undermined, and the transcendence of wildness is still sufficiently immanent to avoid the drive to devalue it. Even though such conceptualization can be attained by civilized urbanites, it seems to be optimally actualized in life by non-civilized cultures. This leads to implications that are not easy for us to accept, but deserve our serious consideration nonetheless
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