The Moral Authority of Nature

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For thousands of years, people have used nature to justify their political, moral, and social judgments. Such appeals to the moral authority of nature are still very much with us today, as heated debates over genetically modified organisms, homosexual marriage, and human cloning testify. The Moral Authority of Nature offers a wide-ranging account of how people have used nature to think about what counts as good, beautiful, just, or valuable. The eighteen essays cover a diverse array of topics, including the connection of cosmic and human orders in ancient Greece, medieval notions of sexual disorder, early modern contexts for categorizing individuals and judging acts as "against nature," race and the origin of humans, ecological economics, and radical feminism. The essays also range widely in time and place, from archaic Greece to early twentieth-century China, medieval Europe to contemporary America. Scholars from a variety of fields will welcome The Moral Authority of Nature, which provides the first panoramic historical survey of its topic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226136813
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/15/2003
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 526
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lorraine Daston is the director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She is the author of Classical Probability in the Enlightenment, coauthor of Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150 1750, and editor of Biographies of Scientific Objects, the last published by the University of Chicago Press.

Fernando Vidal is a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. He is author of Piaget before Piaget and the forthcoming Analyse et sauvegarde de l'âme au siècle des Lumières.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Doing What Comes Naturally 1
Pt. 1 Values 21
1 Measuring Authority, Authoritative Measures: Hesiod's Works and Days 25
2 Nature in Person: Medieval and Renaissance Allegories and Emblems 50
3 Burning The Fable of the Bees: The Incendiary Authority of Nature 74
4 Attention and the Values of Nature in the Enlightenment 100
5 The Erotic Authority of Nature: Science, Art, and the Female during Goethe's Italian Journey 127
6 Nature and Bildung: Pedagogical Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century Germany 155
7 Economics, Ecology, and the Value of Nature 182
Pt. 2 Necessity and Freedom 205
8 Trouble in the Earthly Paradise: The Regime of Nature in Late Medieval Christian Culture 207
9 Nature on Trial: Acts "Against Nature" in the Law Courts of Early Modern Germany and Switzerland 232
10 Onanism, Enlightenment Medicine, and the Immanent Justice of Nature 254
11 Ants and the Nature of Nature in Auguste Forel, Erich Wasmann, and William Morton Wheeler 282
12 "To Become As One Dead": Nature and the Political Subject in Modern Japan 308
13 Liberation through Control in the Body Politics of U.S. Radical Feminism 331
Pt. 3 Boundaries 357
14 Complexio/Complexion: Categorizing Individual Natures, 1250-1600 361
15 Human Experimentation in the Eighteenth Century: Natural Boundaries and Valid Testing 384
16 Nature and Nation in Chinese Political Thought: The National Essence Circle in Early-Twentieth-Century China 409
17 When Pollen Became Poison: A Cultural Geography of Ragweed in America 438
18 Three Roots of Human Recency: Molecular Anthropology, the Refigured Acheulean, and the UNESCO Response to Auschwitz 466
List of Contributors 491
Index 495
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