Philosophy of Ecology II – What do we want Nature to be?

Philosophy of Ecology II – What do we want Nature to be? 
23-29 August with Ben Woodard

Contemporary Ecological Theory appears caught in a trap of conflicting desires: a critique of romanticism and organicism but praise for primitivism and degrowth, a reliance upon carbon dating and other scientific measurements but alongside a tethering of the physical sciences to modernity’s instrumental and technological consumption of the earth.

To make matters worse any escape from this western logic into the ‘non-western’ risks reinforcing either a stubborn orientalism of the ‘Other’ or an equation of rationality with domination. The conceptual biases and contradictions of contemporary ecological theory can be invoked by the simple question: what do we want Nature to be?

Given that we can neither ‘go back’ to nature nor ignore its ongoing devastation this course will interrogate numerous movements in contemporary ecological theory and practice as pointing towards the construction of a future nature. Whereas in the previous course we investigated how the problem of nature leads us to reconsider the traditions split between ontology and ethics (between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought to be’) this course will emphasise the connection between theory and practice as informing one another and implying a redress of the notion of ecological collectivity which must be more than the dictum ‘everything is connected’.

The lectures are meant for non-experts. If you’re curious, you’re welcome. The duration is 7 days with the first and last days being dedicated to arrivals and departures. The lecture days will be interspersed with time allowing to be physically and practically with the space and the topics we’re discussing. We will decide together how we want to balance those times.


Duration: 6 days (Aug 23-29)

Accommodation: 10€ per night (11€ if you stay less than 5 nights) plus a 12€ one-year MASSIA membership
Food: Cooking will be collective and cost will be about 8€ per day
This workshop is for free, donations are possible

Make reservations at
For questions about the workshop, you can get in touch with Ben Woodard 

Ben Woodard is a post-doctoral researcher in philosophy and art theory at Leuphana University, Lüneburg Germany. His research focuses on the relationship between naturalism and idealism across continental and analytic philosophy. His text, Schelling’s Naturalism, is forthcoming from Edinburgh Press.

Image: Gertrude Abercrombie – Flood (1948)