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Postsecular Nature



One of the defining features of the contemporary social imaginary is the desire and difficulty of relating to nature.  A range of popular present day thought expresses the aim of re-conceptualising the self and its relationship with nature by overcoming a detached, disembodied and objective perspective on the natural world. It seeks to rejoin the self with nature, to find the self embodied within a complex web of interlocking agencies, and open to a legitimated emotional relationship with it. This is indicative of a wider shifting conceptualisation of nature and the place of the self within it, one which is connected to the environmental crisis, and to the role secularisation plays in our relationship with the natural environment. Whereas for premodern individuals the boundary between the self and nature was far more porous, leaving the individual vulnerable to external forces, the modern self is autonomous, buffered from, an invulnerable to the world outside of the self. The kind of relationship we see sought out in the contemporary social imaginary differs again, as it seeks an alternative to the modern invulnerable self, though not a simple return to the premodern. This book explores a new struggle with nature. Not a struggle against nature, to tame or control it, but one which seeks to again become a part of nature, and live in harmony with it. 

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