Saturday, March 1, 2014

John Deely on Romanticizing Nature

MT: I guess part of this semioethical realization concerns what real-world consequences all our human actions have, and to what extent the human world practically – ehm – messes with a natural world that is non-human.

JD [John Deely]: Did you say ‘messes’?

MT: In search of a better word – ...or interferes in a non-human world. Isn’t part of the realization that there is not a sharp distinction between what concerns humans and what concerns others than humans?

JD: Yes, but when you start to speak about the human world as ‘messing with’ the world of nature, you’re coming from an almost Rousseauean, romantic idea of nature: that nature is what we need to just leave alone. And that’s completely naive, because we’re part of nature. They’re talking about – you know, it’s so criminal that we would eat the flesh of animals, et cetera. I like the cartoon – I think it was in The New Yorker, where there are these three characters who are very ecologically friendly, and there’s a couple of lions that are trying to eat them. And they’re up in a tree, and then two of them say to the third one: "Would you please explain to this guy [the closest lion] how much we’ve done for him?"


Source: John Deely, interviewed by Morten Tønnessen, "Tell Me, Where Is Morality Bred? The Semioethics Interviews I: John Deely," Hortus Semioticus 4 (April 7, 2009): 56, accessed March 1, 2014,

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