Monday, 27 October 2014

The Ecology of Eden by Evan Eisenberg

This is a history of the changing human relationship with nature, starting out with our beginnings and encompassing religious attitudes to nature; and explorations of the development of agriculture and technology and how that changed our relationship with nature. How do images of Eden (and other representations of paradise) fit with reality?

The author's central argument is that our relationship with nature cannot help but be complicated:

The love of nature and the urge to master nature have always, I am sure, been basic to the human mind. And they have always gone hand in hand, as they seem to do in the cave paintings of Lacaux. Yet there has always been a tension between them - a tension expressed, for example, in the rituals by which some indigenous hunters placate the spirit of the animla they have just killed.

It is a beautifully written book, always readable and thought provoking, though often deeply depressing as the realisation hits just how disfunctional our relationship with nature has become.

The chapter on climate change feels dated now (the book was written in 1998), but apart from that it feels like a classic of ecological philosophy.

The Ecology of Eden by Evan Eisenberg published by Picador.


A Cuban In London said...

(smiles) I can't believe how much in tandem we are this time. My latest blogpost is on climate change, a propos de Naomi Klein's new book, which I will be buying soon. Great post. I had never thought of Eden in that way. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Thanks for the report. I am going to put it on the list.