NC State’s third World Philosophy Day Lecture was given on Thursday, November 16. The speaker was Dale Jamieson, professor of philosophy and environmental studies at New York University, who spoke on “Loving Nature.”
World Philosophy Day has been celebrated internationally on the third Thursday of November since 2002. It was officially proclaimed by UNICEF in 2005 to celebrate and advance philosophy as “a discipline that encourages critical and independent thought … capable of working towards a better understanding of the world and promoting tolerance and peace.”
Jamieson is the author or co-author of five books, including Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed—and What It Means For Our Future (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Love in the Anthropocene (OR Books, 2015), a collection of short stories and essays written with the novelist Bonnie Nadzam. He has also edited or co-edited 10 books and published more than 100 articles and book chapters.
A leading figure in environmental ethics, Jamieson has held visiting appointments at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and many universities, including Cornell, Princeton, Stanford, Oxford, Kings College London, LUISS University (Italy) and Monash University (Australia). He earned the Ph.D. in philosophy at UNC Chapel Hill and began his academic career at NC State, where he was a visiting instructor in philosophy from January 1975 to May 1978.
In his World Philosophy Day Lecture, Jamieson discussed the nature and importance of love in general and of the love of nature in particular.
Love, he argued, helps to make our lives intelligible and meaningful, as well as connecting us with the past and the future, fostering community, revealing value and explaining morality. While it cannot be given a precise analytic definition, love tends to display certain characteristic features, most notably that it is directed at individual persons and things, which it respects for their own sake; that it is persistent and cannot be transferred to substitutes; and that we experience its loss as devastating.
Thus understood, love can be and sometimes is directed at nature, where it is responsive to the visual, the proximate and the dramatic. In his concluding remarks, Jamieson observed that these sensory aspects of the love of nature provide us with powerful motivation for protecting it.