The Idea of Wilderness: From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology

The Idea of Wilderness From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology How has the concept of wild nature changed over the millennia And what have been the environmental consequences In this broad ranging book Max Oelschlaeger argues that the idea of wilderness has refle

  • Title: The Idea of Wilderness: From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology
  • Author: Max Oelschlaeger
  • ISBN: 9780300053708
  • Page: 374
  • Format: Paperback
  • How has the concept of wild nature changed over the millennia And what have been the environmental consequences In this broad ranging book Max Oelschlaeger argues that the idea of wilderness has reflected the evolving character of human existence from Paleolithic times to the present day An intellectual history, it draws together evidence from philosophy, anthropology,How has the concept of wild nature changed over the millennia And what have been the environmental consequences In this broad ranging book Max Oelschlaeger argues that the idea of wilderness has reflected the evolving character of human existence from Paleolithic times to the present day An intellectual history, it draws together evidence from philosophy, anthropology, theology, literature, ecology, cultural geography, and archaeology to provide a new scientifically and philosophically informed understanding of humankind s relationship to nature Oelschlaeger begins by examining the culture of prehistoric hunter gatherers, whose totems symbolized the idea of organic unity between humankind and wild nature, and idea that the author believes is essential to any attempt to define human potential He next traces how the transformation of these hunter gatherers into farmers led to a new awareness of distinctions between humankind and nature, and how Hellenism and Judeo Christianity later introduced the unprecedented concept that nature was valueless until humanized Oelschlaeger discusses the concept of wilderness in relation to the rise of classical science and modernism, and shows that opposition to modernism arose almost immediately from scientific, literary, and philosophical communities He provides new and, in some cases, revisionist studies of the seminal American figures Thoreau, Muir, and Leopold, and he gives fresh readings of America s two prodigious wilderness poets Robinson Jeffers and Gary Snyder He concludes with a searching look at the relationship of evolutionary thought to our postmodern effort to reconceptualize ourselves as civilized beings who remain, in some ways, natural animals.

    One thought on “The Idea of Wilderness: From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology”

    1. We are not a part of nature, we are nature. In the first sections of his book, Oelschlaeger provides a convincing backstory that results in a rationale for how we have come to live as if we are not connected to the natural world. If you are interested in the relationship of humans and the landscape, you might want to give this book serious consideration.

    2. One of my favorite books of all time, this excellent study shows the development of the idea of Nature from the Greeks and Hebrews through the present, with some specific individual chapters on such luminaries as Thoreau, Jeffers and Snyder. I really can't recommend this book more highly to anyone interested in why Nature has become such an important trope in Western thinking over the past 200 or so years, and particularly in the last 40 or so.

    3. A (very!) thorough critique of wilderness and the great nature writers-- Muir, Leopold, Thoreau, and Emerson-- that will open any ecopsychologist's mind to the dividing factors between their theories and what modernity and post constructivism impose on current perspectives. Prerequisites for this book would be The Earth has a Soul, A Sand County Almanac, Wilderness and the American Mind, and either Travels in Alaska or A Thousand Miles to the Gulf.

    4. I read only the early chapters, which deal with the Paleolithic era and "Early Mediterranean Ideas." Oelschlaeger relies on some highly problematic biblical scholarship (like the Frankforts) but also some good stuff (Gottwald). A mixed bag, with lots of interesting ideas and, I am certain, good insight into modern stuff.

    5. Took a long time to read, but well worth it. Need as much time to go back and harvest all the margin notes and follow up on references.

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