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Phil 504: Eco-Phenomenology




Spring 2008 | T 5:30-8:20 Philosophy Conference Room (Morril 402)
Instructor: Dr. Iván Castañeda | Office AA113 | 885-4758 | ivanc@uidaho.edu
Office Hours: noon-1:00 MWF and by appointment


  • Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine, eds., Eco-Phenomenology: Back To The Earth Itself (SUNY, 2003)
  • Hubert L. Dreyfus, Being-In-The-World: A Commentary on Heidegger’s Being and Time, Division I (MIT Press, 1991)
  • Michael E. Zimmerman, Contesting Earth Future: Radical Ecology and Postmodernity (California University Press, 1997)
  • Bruce V. Foltz, Inhabiting the Earth: Heidegger, Environmental Ethics and the Metaphysics of Nature (Prometheus Books, 1995)
  • Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal, tr. Kevin Attell (Stanford University Press, 2004)
  • Bruce V. Foltz and Robert Frodeman, eds., Rethinking Nature: Essays In Environmental Philosophy (Indiana University Press, 2004)
  • Matthew Calarco and Peter Atterton, eds., Animal Philosophy: Essential Readings in Continental Thought (Continuum, 2004)

Description: A study and analysis of the major questions, provocations, and interrogations involved in the relatively new field of Eco-Phenomenology. Using the purview of continental phenomenological inquiry as its starting-point, Eco-Phenomenology addresses, critiques, and develops alternatives for the increasingly ethical implications of our relationship to nature and the environment. We will see that all of the issues that are at the crux of Eco-Phenomenology are issues that are not only of utmost importance to traditional environmental philosophy, but also function as questions that are of general fundamental importance for philosophy in the 21st century: the structure of the concept of the human vs. that of nature and/or the animal; the role and effect of technology on our conception of the human; and the role and effect of globalization on our conceptions of the world/earth. Two fundamental questions that will continually and consistently be raised throughout all these investigations—possibly encompassing the most compelling and significant contributions of Eco-Phenomenology—will be the question of the role that technology plays in man’s relationship to nature, on the one hand, and the question of the role of the spiritual in that same relationship. We will see how Eco-Phenomenology entails confronting the inevitable fact that our modern relationship with nature/earth/the environment necessitates facing profound issues that are deeply mediated through our conceptions of not only technology but, ultimately and unavoidably, and perhaps paradoxically, through our ideas of the spiritual. It is in this intersection between technology and spirituality that the role of environmental ethics comes to the forefront as a (the?) key issue of Eco-Phenomenology. Requirements and Evaluation:

Class Participation/Attendance: You are expected to participate actively in this class, which includes attending the lectures, reading all assigned material prior to class, and participating actively and productively in the class conversation. Missing three classes will result in a failing grade. The quality (not necessarily quantity) of your participation in the class discussion will be evaluated in assigning 20% of your final course grade.

Presentation of articles: Students will be assigned, in a rotating basis, to present summaries of readings for class discussion. Your presentations and handling of discussion will be the basis for 20% of your final course grade.

Final Term Paper: Final term papers of 14-16 pages will explore a specific independently-chosen topic or theme from the course. Students will meet individually with instructor to discuss topic before proceeding. The paper is due May 8. Your term paper will count for 60% of your final course grade.