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date: 06 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores four alternative conceptions of nature that have emerged in European thought over several centuries – Pre-modern, Enlightenment, Romantic, and Environmental – and considers the belief in the animation of the nature as reflected in Hebrew Scriptures and the work of Plato and Ovid. It discusses how the Enlightenment conception of ‘human nature’ – despite its humanistic tone – is actually de-humanizing. The chapter describes the Romantic ideal, and the new agenda is set for painters, writers, and composers, as well as Nietzsche's thoughts on Romantic naturalism. It suggests that environmentalism, aided by ecological study, invokes a concept of nature that does not stand in opposition to humanity, but encompasses it.

Keywords: nature, modern European thought, pre-modern, Enlightenment, Romantic naturalism, environmentalism, Nietzsche

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