A World not Made for Us: Topics in Critical Environmental Philosophy

Read a Q&A about the book at the Colby Climate Project HERE!

Read a book review (Tokay, 2021) HERE!

Notes to the Introduction available HERE!


Proposes a nonanthropocentric reassessment of key themes and approaches in environmental philosophy.

In A World Not Made for Us, Keith R. Peterson provides a broad reassessment of the field of environmental philosophy, taking a fresh and critical look at three classical problems of environmentalism: the intrinsic value of nature, the need for an ecological worldview, and a new conception of the place of humankind in nature. He makes the case that a genuinely critical environmental philosophy must adopt an ecological materialist conception of the human, a pluralistic value theory that emphasizes the need for value prioritization, and a stratified categorial ontology that affirms the basic principle of human asymmetrical dependence on more-than-human nature. Integrating environmental ethics with the latest work in political ecology, Peterson argues it is important to understand that the world is not made for us, and that coming to terms with this fact is a condition for survival in future human and more-than-human communities of liberation and solidarity.

“This is one of the most important contributions to contemporary environmental philosophy, especially in the areas of value theory and political ecology. Peterson undertakes crucial inquiry into the theoretical priorities that are the necessary basis for a consistent and coherent ethical theory. He launches a powerful critique of both abstract idealist and reductionist tendencies in recent environmental thought and presents incisive and groundbreaking analysis of key issues such as the nature of moral virtue and the role of the social ethos. This work will do much to deepen and enrich the theoretical discussion of basic concepts in environmental philosophy.” — John P. Clark, author of Between Earth and Empire: From the Necrocene to the Beloved Community

“There simply isn’t a view like this argued for in the literature, certainly not with this degree of care and depth. I think this position is unique and the argument for it brings many different ideas together in ways not seen before. I expect this to make an important contribution to ongoing discussions of these issues in the literature.”–Anonymous publisher’s reviewer

A volume in the SUNY series in Environmental Philosophy and Ethics, Baird Callicott and John van Buren, editors.

State University of New York Press | | September 2020 / 224 pages | ISBN 978-1-4384-7959-0


Nicolai Hartmann, Ontology: Laying the Foundations, De Gruyter, 2019

Table of Contents

Translated, with Introduction and Notes, by Keith R. Peterson.

It is no exaggeration to say that of the early 20th century German philosophers who claimed to establish a new ontology, former neo-Kantian turned realist Nicolai Hartmann is the only one to have actually followed through. Ontology: Laying the Foundations is the first volume of his monumental four volume ontological work. Appearing in English for the first time, in it he outlines the tasks for contemporary ontology and his unique critical realist approach. The book deals with “what is insofar as it is,” and its four parts tackle traditional ontological assumptions and prejudices and traditional categories such as substance, thing, individual, whole, object, and phenomenon; a novel redefinition of existence and essence in terms of the ontological factors Dasein and Sosein and their interrelations; an analysis of modes of “givenness” and the ontological embeddedness of cognition in affective transcendent acts; and a discussion of the status of ideal being, including mathematical being, phenomenological essences, logical laws, values, and the interconnections between the ideal and real spheres. Hartmann’s work offers rich resources for those interested in overcoming the human-centeredness of much 20th century philosophy.



New Research on the Philosophy of Nicolai Hartmann

Ed. by Peterson, Keith / Poli, Roberto, De Gruyter, 2016

The imposing scope and penetrating insights of German philosopher Nicolai Hartmann’s work have received renewed interest in recent years. The Neo-Kantian turned ontological realist established a philosophical approach unique among his peers, and it provides a wealth of resources for considering contemporary philosophical problems. The chapters included in this volume examine topics in his philosophy of nature and ontology, his philosophy in relation to predecessors and contemporaries, and his ethics, philosophical anthropology, and social theory. Chapters in the first section examine his categories of space and time, causality, organic determination, and theory of ontological stratification. Those in the second section bring his philosophy into conversation with his contemporaries Roman Ingarden and Konrad Lorenz, as well as with Plato and early Greek philosophy. Those in the last section explore his notions of individual and objective spirit through his account of values, autonomy and the stratified nature of the human being, as well as his ideas about education, natural law, and his definition of philosophy as the Socratic pathos of wonder. Those familiar with Hartmann’s wide-ranging systematic philosophy will benefit from these new engagements with his work, and those new to it will find them relevant to a number of current philosophical debates.



FWJ Schelling’s First Outline for a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Appearing here in English for the first time, this is Schelling’s attempt to articulate a complete philosophy of nature. Written in 1799 and building upon his earlier work, the First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature provides the most inclusive exposition of Schelling’s philosophy of the natural world. In it he presents a startlingly contemporary model of an expanding and contracting universe; a unified theory of electricity, gravity, magnetism, and chemical forces; and, perhaps most importantly, a conception of nature as a living and organic whole. With Introduction and Notes by the translator, this is also the first translation to be based on the new Schelling critical edition.