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date: 14 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses how contemporary environmental political theories utilize “classic” or “canonical” texts in the history of political theory in the West from Plato to the twentieth century, primarily through appropriations and critiques of older conceptions of political society and “nature.” The chapter shows why appropriations and critiques of the works of older theories such as those of Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Mill, Marx, and Arendt matter, and should matter, for the new subfield of environmental political theory. Even if older texts cannot provide definitive answers to current questions, they can inform and invigorate environmental discourse as well as exhibit its essential politicalness. Conversely, close reading of the canon can help generate further questions about humans’ relation to their environments, thus encouraging, it is hoped, a more vital green public sphere.

Keywords: environmental political theory, history of political theory, canon, texts, appropriations, critiques, public sphere

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