Heidegger's threshold : philosophy of environment and education
The consumerist lifestyle of modernity has had a detrimental impact on the environment. In part, this is supposed by the traditional philosophical conceptualisation of subjectivity, which privileges human subjects from surrounding objects. Concern over our attitude to the environment has been present from the beginning of civilisation and particularly since the emergence of the industrial revolution. This thesis traces a genealogy of these concerns, from the Romantics, to 20th century philosophers such as Heidegger, through the political movements of the 1960-1980s and the recognition of pollution, resource depletion and climate change by pan global organisation from the 1980s to the present day. The changes in epistemology in the wide context of society have influenced the way environmental education has emerged. Philosophy informs the way we understand subjectivity, language, pedagogy, curriculum, and our understanding of the environment. Education also operates in a political context, and the concepts that inform policies permeate educational institutions. Heidegger’s philosophy engages with the scope of the environmental problem, offers a critique of modernity, develops a new conceptualisation of subjectivity and the relationship between humanity and Being, and an analysis of the impact modern technology has mediating that relationship. Heidegger began to develop his ideas on technology during the period between World Wars, in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. His philosophy was influenced by the Romantic Volk movement, and the ideas of Nietzsche, Spengler and Jünger. The tense political surroundings have influenced his thinking, in both constructive and detrimental ways. Heidegger remains one of the most influential philosophers to engage with the framework of technological modernity and its constraints on human subjectivity, and our way of relating to the earth. He challenges traditional ontology and epistemology. He raises the status of poetry from mere lyrical wordplay to means of developing a more authentic relationship between beings and Beings. I make a critical analysis of his philosophy, to distinguish the elements that remain inherently conservative and nationalistic from those that are immanently helpful in throwing light on the dilemma of modern life, and the escalating problem of environmental devastation.