The Possibility of a Non-Anthropocentric Notion of Environmental Sustainability
This thesis examines contemporary discourse on the natural environment, a discourse that employs terms such as “sustainability” and “sustainable development”. These terms work against efforts to rethink and alter the relationship humankind has with the natural environment. I will illustrate that it is the anthropocentric elements in our notions of sustainability and sustainable development that prevent us from working towards a more harmonious and genuine rapport with nature or “the nonhuman.” This will be accomplished by a methodological inquiry into the way that anthropocentrism penetrates discourses on environmental sustainability, and through an examination of how even more sustainability aware forms of environmental worldviews are caught in the trap of anthropocentrism. I argue that there is a way to introduce the possibility of a non-anthropocentric conception of environmental sustainability by critiquing the anthropocentrism of our contemporary discourse on environmental sustainability. In order to introduce the possibility of non-anthropocentric environmental sustainability, I use elements of the critical methodologies of Michel Foucault, Bryan Bannon and Martin Heidegger for analysis. I argue that an introduction to the possibility of a non-anthropocentric sustainability cannot be encouraged until humankind is able to bracket our anthropocentrism and make space for the transcendent un-explainability of the nonhuman. To illustrate the difficulty of overcoming and bracketing anthropocentrism, I will critique Bannon’s argument of nature as a friend through an appeal to aspects of Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenology. The thesis will include reflections on the development of thought concerning the progression of environmental sustainability and alternative environmental worldviews on sustainability, and critically examine concrete examples of how organizations appeal to environmental sustainability.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeRegnier, Daniel; Dieleman, Susan; Woodhouse, Howard; Hrynkow, Christopher
Copyright DateJuly 2017
anthropocentric, environmental sustainability