Nature Connoisseurship

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Environmentalists who seek to protect wild nature, biodiversity and so on for its own sake manifest a disposition to value the interesting at least on par with the useful. This disposition toward the interesting, which provides the affective and cognitive context for the discovery of intrinsic values in nature and the elaboration of ecocentric ethics, does not arise simply from learning about nature but is part of a more general socially inculcated cultural system. Nature connoisseurship exhibits formal parallels with art connoisseurship. The abstraction-oriented cultural system which prizes 'disinterested interest' is characteristic of culturally rich fractions (or subdivisions) of the middle class in modern Western societies. Valuing nature for its own sake (like valuing, for its own sake, the domination of nature) is not a 'natural' response to nature but a disciplined cultural accomplishment.

Keywords: Bourdieu; Hargrove; connoisseurship; nature preservation; taste

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2005

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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 (2013) of 1.739.
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