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The State of Nature: The Political Philosophy of Primitivism and the Culture of Contamination

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The 'state of nature' could be understood in two senses; both in terms of its nature's current (sorry) condition and of that unmediated and pre-contractual relation between humanity and the environment posited by political philosophers like Locke and Rousseau and now championed by anarcho-primitivism. Primitivism is easily dismissed as an extreme, naive and impractical form of radical environmentalism but its emergence signifies contemporary disaffection with the ideology of 'progress' so central to modernity and capitalism. This paper offers an ethico-political interpretation of primitivism's critical relation to modernity in terms of the dialectic between amorality (innocence) and immorality (guilt) within what is characterised as modernity's 'culture of contamination'.

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Keywords: Locke; State of Nature; culture of contamination; primitivism; radical environmentalism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-11-01

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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 a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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