The Domination of Nature


Posted 1 year ago

A trailblazing work on environmental issues, updated for the twenty-first century.
“Leiss weaves a complex and frequently scintillating theme that sometimes poses old questions in new ways and also raises new questions that might provoke a measure of lucidity in a discussion, now deeply obfuscated.” Richard J. Neuhaus, The Annals of the
American Academy.

Concern over ecological and environmental problems grows daily, and many believe
we’re at a critical tipping point. Scientists, social thinkers, public officials, and the
public recognise that failure to understand the destructive impact of industrial
society and advanced technologies on the delicate balance of organic life in the global
ecosystem will result in devastating problems for future generations.

In The Domination of Nature William Leiss argues that this global predicament must be
understood in terms of deeply rooted attitudes towards nature. He traces the origins,
development, and social consequences of an idea whose imprint is everywhere in
modern thought: the idea of the domination of nature. In part 1 Leiss traces the idea
of the domination of nature from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Francis
Bacon’s seminal work provides the pivotal point for this discussion, and through an
original interpretation of Bacon’s thought, Leiss shows how momentous ambiguities
in the idea were incorporated into modern thought. By the beginning of the twentieth
century the concept had become firmly identified with scientific and technological
progress. This fact defines the task of part 2. Using important contributions by
European sociologists and philosophers, Leiss critically analyses the role of science and
technology in the modern world. In the concluding chapter he puts the idea of mastery
over nature into historical perspective and explores a new approach, based on the
possibilities of the liberation of nature.

Originally published in 1972, The Domination of Nature was part of the first wave of
widespread interest in environmental issues. In a new preface Leiss explores the
concept of eco-dominion and the moral obligations of human citizens of the twentyfirst
William Leiss is a fellow and past president of the Royal Society of Canada, an officer of the Order of Canada, and professor
emeritus at the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University. He is the author of several books, including Mad Cows and Mother’s
Milk: The Perils of Poor Risk Communication.

304 pp • 6 x 9 • April 2023 Environmental Studies • History of Ideas
ISBN 9780228017240 • Cloth $130.00 $91.00 CAD • $130.00 $91.00 USD • £110.00 £77.00
ISBN 9780228017257 • Paper $37.95 $26.57 CAD • $37.95 $26.57 USD • £32.99 £23.10

Use 30% discount code MQSP until 31 August 2023

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