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Unprojected Value, Unfathomed Caves and Unspent Nature: Reply to an Editorial

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This article replies to Alan Holland's challenge to reconcile belief in non-anthropogenic intrinsic value with the poetry of John Clare and its projection onto nature of human feelings, and thus with projective humanism. However, in literature and broadcasts, feelings are found projected upon buildings and belongings as well as upon natural creatures. This and the fact that many living creatures (such as the Northamptonshire species not remarked by Clare) never become objects of human projections but still remain valuable suggests that the basis of natural value lies elsewhere, at least in part. Such themes, together with that of nature's independent value, are variously illustrated from poems of Gray, Cowper and Marvell, and from expressions of nature's otherness in the Christian verse of Hopkins (who also helps answer Holland's further question concerning 'what we have lost'), and in the pantheistic (or pagan) prose of Grahame's Wind in the Willows. In none of these writers does the value of nature depend on the projection of a humanistic sensitivity, but in different ways on the nature (diversely conceptualised) of natural creatures themselves.

Keywords: humanistic projections; intrinsic value; nature's significance; non-anthropogenic value; undiscovered species

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 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 (2015) of 1.311.
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