A Companion to Environmental Philosophy by Jamieson

Dale Jamieson, ed. A Companion to Environmental Philosophy. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2003. Paperback, 531 pp.

Considering the discipline of Environmental Philosophy dates back to the 1970s, there are surprisingly few books on the subject. Most contributions are buried in journals, edited books, and encyclopedias. A great deal of writing falls into the category of Environmental Ethics. It is, therefore, a great pleasure to see the present hefty anthology containing 36 original essays, which in their combined impact, will go a long way toward giving this relatively new and now burgeoning discipline a public face and furnishing students with an overview that defines the perimeter and substance of this field.

The only competitor to this pioneering compendium is the 5-volume Environmental Philosophy: Critical Concepts in the Environment, edited by J. Baird Callicott and Clare Palmer and published by Routledge in England, which, at $975 a set, is unaffordable for most individuals.

Jamieson, who apparently went to great length to secure the best possible contributions, plausibly organized the materials into the following four parts: Cultural Traditions, Contemporary Environmental Ethics, Environmental Philosophy and Its Neighbors, and Problems in Environmental Philosophy.

A Companion to Environmental Philosophy starts with ten essays on environmental thought in diverse cultural traditions, such as Native Americans, classical Greece, China, and India, as well as the religious cultures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Also included are essays on environmental considerations in early modern philosophy and nineteenth-to-twentieth-century philosophy.

Environmental Ethics, which is perhaps the most mined area of environmental philosophy, is represented by six specialized essays. The third part, which examines the interface between Environmental Philosophy and other disciplines, contains seven essays, which respectively focus on literature, aesthetics, economics, history, ecology, politics, and law.

The most populous part of the book, with eleven essays, is the concluding section, which addresses hot topics like the wilderness, population, sustainability, animals, environmental justice, climate, consumption, and so forth.

Each essay includes a varyingly detailed list of books for further reading, and the book is graced with a relatively short but useful index of 20 pages. Having myself edited a substantial anthology (Voices on the Threshold of Tomorrow), I can readily appreciate the immense amount of work that has gone into the making of the present compilation, and both the editor and publisher are to be congratulated for pulling off this colossal project, which no doubt will be greatly welcomed by the environmental movement.

Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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