Date: Jun 13, 2019
Category: Philosophy Essay
Ecofeminist Political Philosophy

Ecofeminist political philosophy is considered an area of the noetic investigation, which analyzes the political status of nature utilizing perceptions, theoretical implements, and ethical allegiances of the ecological feminism and other liberation theories, incorporating the crucial race theory, queer theory, postcolonial theory, environmental philosophy, and feminism. Generally speaking, ecofeminist political philosophy is interested in the analysis of issues concerning the probabilities overt by the acknowledgment of intercession and subjectivism of the more-than-human world. Thus, it is interested in inquiring and explaining how people can react in a political manner to the more-than-human world with the corresponding dialogic terms. This philosophy claims that a gendered and liberatory analysis is required for adequately addressing the environmental quandary of the nonhuman nature incorporation in a form of co-collocutor in regards to the green extracurricular framework. This philosophy also opposes traditional philosophies, which demonstrate a tendency to excluding the more-than-human world from ethical-political regard. All of the topics mentioned above run throughout the work of Val Plumwood, a well-known feminist theorist, who convincingly examines the difficulties and complexities in such categories and concepts, like nature, gender, and politics.

All ecofeminism theories merely regard political analysis and can be considered political interventions into a broad number of practices and discourses. Generally speaking, ecofeminist political philosophy helps in creating an implicit political content of ecofeminism explicit. Val Plumwood, in particular, argues, Feminist thought and environment thought to have much in common. Thus, feminism follows the holistic approach of Val Plumwood, who emphasized the hybridity in tackling the integration problem. The author attempts to go beyond an anthropocentric concept, stating that nature was valued at East as much as the humankind. The author explicitly articulates regarding the facts of how the Western master narrative of rationality locates scientific and epistemic authority in a stance of superiority, alienation, withdrawal, impassive exemption, leading to hierarchical and instrumentalizing connections. The author asserts that the relevant stance regarding the more-than-human world can be considered neither a definition nor unification. It should be rather concerned evaluated in the political sense. Nevertheless, the author questions whether the language of solidarity can be expanded or adjusted so that to utter a specific type of ethical-political intercourse between human beings and the more-than-human world. The author also studies whether the term political solidarity can be precisely and effectively utilized in order to outline a connection and intercourse between human beings and the more-than-human world, in which people and non-humans combat together in attempts of altering the eco-socially-oppressive states of affairs. Generally speaking, the work of Plumwood induces ecofeminism to address these questions and inquiries. For instance, Mellor is interested whether traditional political concepts, categories, valuables, and virtues, including the freedom, democracy, speech, solidarity, participation, and subjectivity, can be applied to the more-than-human world.

Val Plumwood through the utilization of ecofeminist political philosophy suggests that they actually can. On the one hand, liberatory philosophies, including the separate feminist and environmental theories, demonstrate that there is a great doubt regarding the possible relationships between ontologies and politics or epistemologies and ethics. On the other hand, the ecofeminist philosophical sensibility that renders and utilizes general awareness regarding the interdependence of being, knowing, and valuing and specific cognition in the light of how humans encounter other Earth beings concerns the interspecies politics. One of the methods of how people encounter other Earth beings is via political languages and concepts. These languages and concepts can either open or close some possibilities of engaging the more-than-human world in the political interlocution and operations. On the other hand, a method of political solidarity can be precisely and efficiently utilized to formulate relationships between human beings and more-than-human in order to change the eco-socially-oppressive states of affairs.

In her work, Plumwood presents some points of commonality and discrepancies between the ecofeminist and profound ecological approaches to the activism and identification with nature in order to the debate between the profound ecology and ecofeminism. Plumwood states that the recent environmental approaches and concepts have provided a favored alternative into the sphere of the moral dualist constructions of academic philosophy, which bypasses the outwardly infinite debate over whether the humanist ethical and value principles can somehow be expanded to outreach non-humans. The alternative, which actually stands for the deep ecology, is majorly grounded on nature defending activism; it concentrates on acquitting and outlining the political solidarity with other Earth beings. Thus, the author states that the main goals and values of these activists turn to be much wider in regard to the moral extensions. It is a principal reason for why there is a requirement for the open ethics, capable of covering trees, mountains, wild rivers, wilderness areas, and endangered species, all of which are left out by moral extensionist and dualist forms of argument. Thus, the author demonstrates that the deep ecology ethic actually sustains the human-focused one due to the fact that it is based on the conceptions of sameness rather than the difference. The author vividly demonstrates the one-sidedness of the approach, which cannot actually address the other as a communicative or potentially communicative subject. It is the main reason why Plumwood advocates an alternative analysis of solidarity based on the feminist theory that [she] think[s] is more useful for environmental activism.

The revision of the long-lasting argument between deep ecologists and ecofeminists concerning the question of whether the deep ecology’s viewpoint of the ecological self-in-Self is summarizing and masculine, or people should consider themselves as incessant with the non-human environment and in the concept that people appear as “the speaking, thinking parts of nature” is androcentric in its inclination to incite the non-human others into the human self shadow. Despite the fact that Plumwood does not actually reject the deep ecology’s idea of the self-realization, she states that there is a requirement to elude the above-mentioned pitfall. It is the major reason for why feminism is supposed to encroach into the above-mentioned debate and, in particular, politicize it. In addition, deep ecology together with other theories can, according to Plumwood, obtain and learn a lot from the feminist and postcolonial theories especially in terms of ethical and political reactions in the face of the “other’s incommensurability” and discrepancy.

Generally speaking, hyper-separation appears to be the main concept of Plumwood’s work, which stands for the structure of dominance that stimulates and directs all western dualities and incorporates the notions of nature and culture, female and male, matter and mind, savage and civilized. The work demonstrates that the hyper-separation structure provides the worth and advantage to one side of the duality, at the same time relegating the other side to a stance of opposing the inferiority. Thus, her work shows how nature is backgrounded contrary to the human, is actually relegated to the function, which provided benefits without demanding moral consideration. It is a pivotal work in demonstrating that an analogous structure can also be mapped onto gender, class, colonization, and other social relations. Generally speaking, Plumwood’s definition of solidarity has an intention to debate the complex and intricate terrain between the affinity and discrepancies with the more-than-human world. The author states that “the politics of solidarity is different than the politics of unity,” becoming a major reason for why people should be susceptible to the difference between positioning oneself with the other and positioning oneself as the other. Plumwood utilizes the sample of the colonialist cultural assimilation of aboriginal Australians via the erasure of their culture and languages, in order to explain that “the colonizing project is one of self-imposition and appropriation,” which actually rejects the independence or boundaries of others. The analysis of Plumwood’s work helps in understanding that political solidarity does not state the recognition with the others.

On the other hand, political solidarity practically outlines the connection, in which beings are stimulated to operate and live on behalf of others, with whom they do not share practice, requirements, outlooks, or subjectivity. Nevertheless, this understanding of solidarity has been connected with both the actual aim of solidarity and other beings incorporated in combating for the alteration and shift via a common acknowledgment of iniquity and despondency, as well as via actions to change it. Instead of following the “politics of unity,” according to which, the solidarity connection is based on claiming to “know what the other is going through” or connection with the others in a similar position, political solidarity with the more-than-human world is a connection, which allows drawing imaginative parallels between, for instance, the systems of slavery, women’s oppression, and animal oppression. It also allows seeing that some cultures, most notably the Western world ones, position human beings as oppressors of the more-than-human world. According to Plumwood, the fundamental ground for the critical solidarity is established not in “an unanalyzed and capricious emotion of empathy or sympathy” (also known as the unity), but in the capability of comprehending and perceiving a concept of solidarity that is based on an intellectual and emotional grasp of the parallels in the logic of the One and the Other. It is also based on the acknowledgment that human beings are positioned multiply as oppressors or colonizers, just as [humans] are positioned multiply as oppressed and colonized. A successful accomplishment of it presupposes that human beings are traitors to the human individuality that makes a person a lawful owner, proprietor, and exploiter of the more-than-human world. Therefore, the author states that disloyal and renegade types of human identification incorporate an adjusted the notion of the Self and its connection to the non-human others, counteraction to repressive practices, together with the refusal and criticism of the cultural devotion to the predominance of the human species together with its conjugation against non-human beings. It appears in an analogous manner, in which male feminism asks for the refusal and criticism of the male conjugation as the type of male solidarity, which outlines itself as opposing to the feminine combined with an ideology of the male predominance. Generally speaking, such traitorous identifications, which provide men with a possibility to become male feminists in the aggressive opposition to androcentric culture, and the whites to engage actively in the opposition to the White supremacism and ethnocentric culture, make human beings be condemnatory of human supremacism while staying in aggressive opposition to the anthropocentric culture. The acknowledgment of the requirement of such traitorousness or renunciation of one’s privilege and position of dominance is conjoined with the project of political solidarity with the more-than-human world. It demonstrates that political solidarity should not rely on the sameness or identification but should be grounded in the generation of a common critical (self) consciousness, which can be organized into political operations against oppression.

Plumwood’s work helps to navigate the unstable impediment sameness and discrepancy. She vividly demonstrates that deep ecology serves to erase discrepancies between the human Self and the non-human others at the same time privileging the incorporative [human] self. On the other hand, the author’s advocacy of the political solidarity with nature helps to oppose the deep ecology’s feasibly hegemonic, dominating, and totalizing trends by demonstrating and uttering a specific type of intercourse, in which political empathy and affability are grounded neither in unity nor identity. It should be based on the acknowledgment of the fact that the human is eco-socially positioned as a superior being and the necessity of betraying one’s own kind in order to become a traitor to a particular narrative of the human. It can help in permitting the more-than-human world to flourish on its own terms, and not on the terms that humans inflict on it. Thus, Plumwood eloquently states that the world requires a specific concept of the other interconnected with the self, which is simultaneously separated having its own right. This approach assists in accepting the uncontrollable, tenacious otherness of the world as a condition of freedom and identity for both self and others.

The ideas and concepts presented by Val Plumwood are highly persuasive. Nevertheless, it is important to understand how conventional liberal or conservative theories react and response to her postmodern analysis. Mellor demonstrates that in his Politics, Aristotle states that the presence of political connections is a distinguishing characteristic of human societies. Thus, in a sense, the whole Western cognition of politics is based on this idea, which separates human beings from the rest of the natural world. Therefore, it is not surprising that political science together with political philosophy unwillingly and slowly incorporates the insights of ecology. An absolute acknowledgment of the human embedding in natural systems and operations undermines the essentials and basis of the human cognition of political life. Nevertheless, the existing evidence of human effects on the natural environment, combined with the adverse influences of environmental changes, causes an ecological challenge to political philosophy as they appear to be in considerable disregard. Generally speaking, Andrew Dobson and Robyn Eckersley state, Mainstream [political] theory are not (at this historical juncture) complete without taking account of its ecological counterpart. On the other hand, Val Plumwood demonstrates that the environmental political theory appears as a field of study, which is supposed, similarly to the feminist theory, to shift from a more specific inquiry field to the one, which will challenge principal assumptions of the discipline.

Mellor demonstrates that ecological challenge to political theory appears as being highly diversified. It raises the issues of anthropocentrism and human conduct regarding the non-human species, together with problems of intergenerational justice in unprecedented ways, creating obvious challenges for the current political borders starting with the state and ending with the national citizenship. Despite the fact that the terms of eco-centrism and ecologism have obviously produced their own problems, their deployment assisted in distinguishing and providing theoretical coherence to this emergent area. Therefore, the lack of intercourse between the mainstream political theory and environmentalism appears to be a two-way problem. On the one hand, political theorists ignore ecological evolvements at their peril. On the other hand, environmentalists frequently ignore the wide political vision demanded by political theorizing, relying on individualized appeals (“reduce, reuse, recycle”), and concentrating either on a piecemeal policy reform or abstract utopianism. Michael Saward vividly demonstrates that the environmentalist theory is grounded on dichotomous concepts, which can be best illustrated by the ideological tension between nationalism and cosmopolitanism. The author points out the importance of territorial attachment for nations and also with respect to ecology, establishing a direct connection between society and nature. Individuals not only feel strongly attached to the nation but also express a desire to protect it from environmental degradation. In addition, Mary Mellor posits the promotion of environmentalism within the above-mentioned framework via substance sectors and the local economy, addressing the concept of socialism. Consequences of the local environmental pollution directly affect the lives of certain communities, as well as increase their alertness and readiness for protest. At the far end of the ideological spectrum, however, there is the cosmopolitan theory, which, according to Andrew Linklater, generates common experiences in order to create a transnational awareness that goes beyond the locally oriented reasoning. Thus, the liberal or conservative theories focus on the importance of a new green theory challenge of consolidating the cosmopolitanism and nationalism. Despite the fact that Val Plumwood’s work goes beyond the anthropocentric concept, Andrew Hurrel and Michael Saward utilize anthropocentrism in order to personify nature for political purposes. This approach requires rethinking not only the connections of human beings, animals, and nature, but also inquire about how to integrate them conceptually within a legal framework. Thus, this approach again reiterates the detached character of ecological thought and established political concepts. Thus, liberal and conservative theories hold a twofold position. The majority of these theorists acknowledge the right of ecologism to the existence, but the message of establishing a separate subfield in the political theory appears to be blurred or absent.

Val Plumwood’s work, being simultaneously a feminist and environmental philosophical inquiry, seriously opposes the liberal or conservative theories, due to the fact that it takes a further prescient step in regard to the political theory and environmental challenge. The work ponders unthinkable questions regarding the existing ethnic-political interrelations with the more-than-human world, connects them to the existent liberatory theoretical practices. At the same time, the work reveals how the inner concordance requires these practices to live up to their own statements and objectives by opening their theoretical position beyond the human being. The author demonstrates that if these theories cannot be fairly revised, even her own vast corpus of ecofeminist scholarship demonstrates that such political theories are untenable, unsustainable, eco-socially irrational, and hazardous. The majority of analyzed authors follow a similar or almost analogous logic in regard to ecologism, outlining the first roadmap for future research. Nevertheless, their study is expanded enough to initiate an integrative conceptual framework in regard to the ecological theory. Despite the fact that Val Plumwood considers the abstract and philosophical nature of the subject matter, the author has grounded arguments, which make her framework specific and more environmentally-oriented regarding the integration of the ecological challenge into the political theory. Plumwood’s ecofeminist political philosophy vividly analyzes the issues regarding the probabilities overt while acknowledging the intercession and subjectivism of the more-than-human world. The author seems to be highly interested in inquiring and explaining how people can react in a political manner to the more-than-human world on the corresponding dialogic terms. Val Plumwood’s philosophy seriously opposes the other traditional philosophies, due to the fact that they demonstrate a tendency to excluding the more-than-human world from the ethical-political perspective.


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