Unnecessary suffering

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History and Philosophy


In opposition to modernist conceptions of the “self,” some environmental philosophers argue that human identity is first and foremost wild and natural because it is a product of an ontologically independent nature. They use evolutionary theory to create and maintain a division between our wild, natural human identity and our artifactual culture. Their position is supported by a misunderstanding of both early hominid evolution and artifacts. Artifacts are not the neutral instruments of human will, but exist with us in “economies” that constantly create unintended consequences. In terms of recent work in the field of philosophical anthropology, a reexamination of the evolutionary evidence suggests that our identity is not natural but completely artifactual. This artifactual identity provides us with new ways of conceptualizing our present ecological problems.

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