Been a while! Sorry!
I’ve been reading a new book recommended to me by Stephen Budiansky, who, among other things, wrote a interesting skeptical/sympathetic book on environmentalism called Nature’s Keepers.
The book Budiansky recommended is called Uncommon Ground. It’s a collection of essays on what we mean when we say “nature.” It looks to be a pretty interesting meeting place between hard science and epistemologically sophisticated approaches to the humanities.
I’ve seen a couple of web reviews which dredge out the tired old “humanists denying reality” argument in opposition to this book, but that certainly isn’t an adequate response to what the book says. For one thing the essays I’ve read seem perfectly willing to acknowledge that reality exists. They only question our grasp of it. In other words they question whether every timne someone says the word “reality” or “nature” that the precise same thing is meant.
We all know that it isn’t. This book is an exploration of how our conceptions of “nature” or “underlying reality” are different, and how they often carry a lot of baggage: wishful thinking, ideology, hopes, dreams, fears, etc.
I’ll be linking a few reviews and such here as I make my way through the books and the reviews.