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The Nature of Being Human: From Environmentalism to Consciousnessby Harold Fromm
Synopses & Reviews
Although the physical relationship between the natural world and individuals is quantifiable, the psychosocial effect of the former on the latter is often less tangible. What, for instance, is the connection between the environment in which we live and our creativity? How is our consciousness bounded and delimited by our materiality? And from whence does our idea of self and our belief in free will derive and when do our surroundings challenge these basic assumptions?
Ecocritic Harold Fromm's challenging exploration of these and related questions twines his own physical experiences and observations with insights gathered from both the humanities and the sciences. Writing broadly and personally, Fromm explores our views of nature and how we write about it. He ties together ecology, evolutionary psychology, and consciousness studies to show that our perceived separation from our surroundings is an illusory construct. He argues for a naturalistic vision of creativity, free will, and the literary arts unimpeded by common academic and professional restraints. At each point of this intellectual journey, Fromm is honest, engaging, and unsparing.
Philosophical, critical, often personal, Fromm's sweeping, interdisciplinary, and sometimes combative essays will change the way you think about your place in the environment.
Book News Annotation:
Fromm, currently a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona, has made a journey through a New York City childhood, literary academia, ecological alarm, and existential musings to a hypothesis of what it means to be aware. He takes on the ancient debate of Nature versus Nurture and eventually concludes that Nature has the edge. Beginning with a 1976 essay on life in the pollution of Gary, Indiana, Fromm continues through the ensuing years as the field of ecoccriticism, in which he is a pioneer, evolved. The essays each stand alone and, although they aren't dated, must have been written over a number of years. Fromm ranges from critical analyses of contemporary books to a reevaluation of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In all the works, the tension caused by humanity's destruction of and destruction by the environment is an underlying theme. He investigates the bio-sciences and the core of computers in his search. He concludes by facing another great question, that of free will. Fromm doubts that we do but much of his book is predicated on the hope that we can act against programmed nature and save ourselves. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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