Year

1999

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Abstract

The Unity of Nature idea is a strong metatheoretical theme in a number of scientific and environmental fields (from ecosystems ecology, through quantum physics to emironmental philosophy and ecopolitics). Why this is so is discussed. One of the prime reasons the Unity of Nature idea is adopted in these fields is to give rise to an inspiring, optimistic, socially-responsive and environmentally-friendly worldview. Why this is so is also discussed. These fields of science and environmentalism have inlierited tliis metatheoretical theme of natural unity through an intellectual lineage that passes through many non-scientific and non-emironmental fields (sociology, theology' and political philosophy, for instance). Many of these non-emironmental and non-scientific fields have used natural unity in a way which is in stark metaphysical and political opposition to the metaphysical and political desires of those who promulgate the unity of nature for progressive social change. The exact way this has transpired is discussed so that the various social and intellectual processes that have been at work can be examined. Such social and intellectual processes include the social construction of the Organicism Vs Mechanicism debate in ecology , the intellectual hnks between neo-classical economic principles and the New Sciences, the techno-scientific background of Gaia theory, and the social conservatism of ecological functionalism. After this is done, and after the ecopolitical importance of the Unity of Nature idea has been thoroughly questioned, an alternative suggestion towards a non-unity worldview is made which draw s strength from contemporary developments in postmodern theory, ecological thought and ethological sstudy.

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