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Lost for Words? Gadamer and Benjamin on the Nature of Language and the 'Language' of Nature

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Language is commonly regarded as an exclusively human attribute and the possession of the word (logos) has long served to demarcate culture from nature. This is often taken to imply that nature is incapable of meaningful expression, that any meaning it acquires is merely bestowed upon it by humanity. This anthropic logocentrism seriously undermines those forms of 'environmental advocacy' which claim to find and speak of the meaning and value of nature per se. However, shorn of their own anthropocentric presuppositions, the expressivist hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Walter Benjamin might offer an alternative understanding of the nature of language and the language of nature.

Keywords: Gadamer; expressionism; hermeneutics; language; nature

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2001

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2015) of 1.311.
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