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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 Silence of Nature

The Silence of Nature

(p.167) 6 The Silence of Nature
Thinking like a Mall

Steven Vogel

The MIT Press

In emphasizing the vitality or agency of matter, Latour or “new materialists” such as Bennett find human characteristics in matter, but “materialism” requires emphasizing instead the materiality of the human. Humans do have unique (material) characteristics with implications for their ethical status, chief among which is language use. A familiar trope in environmental philosophy (e.g., Abram) says that “nature speaks” but that humans no longer hear it. Nature however does not speak in a way that has the ethical implications of human dialogic speech: it makes no claims, and offers no (criticizable) reasons to justify its claims. Assertions that nature speaks always involve humans claiming to translate its speech for us; the problem is how to distinguish translators from ventriloquists. Environmental questions arise in (dialogic) language, and so unfortunately only we language-users can answer them: they are political.

Keywords:   Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, new materialism, David Abram, nature and language, ethics and language, language, ventriloquism, dialogue, Parliament of Things

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