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Thinking like a MallEnvironmental Philosophy after the End of Nature$
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Steven Vogel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029100

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029100.001.0001

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The Social Construction of Nature

The Social Construction of Nature

Chapter:
(p.33) 2 The Social Construction of Nature
Source:
Thinking like a Mall
Author(s):

Steven Vogel

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262029100.003.0002

To show something to be “socially constructed” is to show it not to be natural; in this sense there’s something paradoxical in the thesis that nature is itself socially constructed. The thesis might be understood as meaning that nothing is natural, and that the distinction between the “natural” and the “social” makes no sense. “Construction” has to be understood literally. As natural beings, humans are constantly in the process of transforming their environment: they build it. Our relation to the world is active; we come to know it, as the history of epistemology from empiricism through Kant and Hegel and Marx (and Heidegger) shows, through our social practices. Such practices are prior to any putative distinction between matter and thought, nature and culture, or object and subject.

Keywords:   social construction of nature, social constructionism, practice, Kant, Hegel, Marx, activist epistemology, Heidegger, Ian Hacking

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