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Plumwood Valley

Val Plumwood (11 August 1939 – 29 February 2008) was an Australian philanthropist and activist known for her work on anthropocentrism . From the 1970s she played a central role in the development of radical ecosophy , along with her second husband, the philosopher Richard Sylvan . Working mostly as an independent scholar, she held positions at universities in Australia and the United States, and at the Australian Research Council Fellow at the Australian National University . [4] She is included in Routledge’s Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment (2001). [5]

Plumwood is the author of the “standpoint of mastery”: a reason / nature in which the natural world (including women, indigenous people and non-humans) ) is subordinated to anything associated with reason. [6] [7]

Plumwood was the author or co-author of five books and over 100 papers on logic, metaphysics, the environment and ecofeminism. [8] The Fight for the Forests (1973), co-authored with Sylvan, was described in 2014 as the most comprehensive analysis of Australian forestry to date. [9] Her Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (1993) is Regarded as a classic, and her Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason (2002) Was Said to-have marked her as “one of The Most Brilliant environmental thinkers of our time “. [10]

Her posthumously published The Eye of the Crocodile (2012) emerged from her survival of a crocodile attack in 1985, first described in her essay “Being Prey” (1996). [11] The experience offered a glimpse of the world “from the outside”, a “Heraclitiean universe” in which she was like any other creature. It was a world that was always in the future, where “being in your body is … like having a volume out of the library, whole story when they get it “. [12]


Plumwood was born Val Morell to parents whose home was a shack with walls made of hessian sacks dipped in cement. The parents had set up home in the Terrey Hills , near the Ku-ring-gay Chase National Park , North of Sydney , as a result of a land grant. Her father worked at a hod carrier, then started a small poultry farm. Martin Mulligan and Stuart Hill write the natural beauty of the area made for Plumwood’s lack of toys. [13]

The poultry farm failed, and when it was moved to Collaroy , another northern Sydney suburb, then to Kogarah in southern Sydney. [13] She attended St George’s High School Girls in Kogarah, where she was dux of the school. [14] She was offered a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend the University of Sydney, but turned down for a Teacher’s Scholarship instead, also at Sydney-her parents wanted her to do something practical-but she soon became interested in philosophy. Her studies were interrupted in 1958 by her marriage to a fellow student, John Macrae, when she was 18 and pregnant. [15] [16] The couple was divorced by the time she was 21. Their son, John Macrae, was born when Plumwood was 19, and died in 1988 after an illness; their daughter, Caitlin Macrae, born in 1960 and given up for adoption when she was 18 months old, was murdered in her teens. [15] [1] [17] [18]

Plumwood resumed her studies at Sydney in 1962, this time with a Commonwealth Scholarship to study philosophy, and graduated with first-class honors in 1964. [15] Toward the end of her undergraduate studies she married another fellow student, the philosopher Richard Sylvan ( then known as Richard Routley), and changed his name to Val Routley. They spend time traveling, living in the Middle East and UK, including Scotland for a year, where they lived near a beech forest. [16] Returning to Australia, They est devenu active in movements to preserve biodiversity and halt deforestation , and Helped the suit les trans-discipline Known As ecological humanities. Referred to as Routley and Routley, from 1973 to 1982 they co-authored several notable papers on logic and the environment, becoming central figures in the debate about anthropocentrism and “human chauvinism”. Together they wrote the influential book The Fight for the Forests (1973), which analyzed the damaging policies of the forestry industry in Australia; the threefold published in three years. [19]

Plumwood Mountain on the coast, 75 km from Canberra, an octagonal stone house has 120-hectare clearing in a rainforest . [20] They divorced in 1981. Plumwood continued living in the house and changed its name after the divorce, this time naming itself after the mountain, which in turn is named after the Eucryphia moorei tree. Routley changed his surname to Sylvan (“of the forest”) when he remarried in 1983; he died in 1996. [3]

Plumwood held positions at the University of Tasmania , North Carolina State University , the University of Montana and the University of Sydney . At the time of her death, she was an Australian Research Council Fellow at the Australian National University . She was found dead on March 1, 2008 in the house she had built with Sylvan; she is believed to have died the previous day, after suffering a stroke. [4] [21]


Human / nature dualism

Plumwood’s major theoretical works are her Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (1992) and her Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason (2002). [8] She criticizes what she calls “the standpoint of mastery,” a set of views of the self and its relationship to sexism , racism , capitalism , colonialism , and the domination of nature. She draws on feministThe theory, which she argues involves “seeing the other as radically separate and inferior, the background to the self as foreground, as one whose existence is secondary, or derivative of that of the self or center, and which agency is denied or minimized. ” [5]

She identifies human / nature dualism, including “human / animal, mind / body … male / female, reason / emotion, [and] civilized / primitive.” She argues for their abandonment, of the Western notion of a rational, unitary, Cartesian self, in favor of an ecological ethic based on empathy for the other. In doing so, it is not only the “hyperseparation” between self and other, and between humanity and nature, but also postmodern alternatives based on respect for absolute difference and deep ecologicalalternatives on a merging of the self and the world. [5]

Plumwood was a vegetarian, her statement of the ecological significance of predation notwithstanding, on account of her objection to factory farming . [11] She advocated a semi-vegetarian position she published Ecological Animalism, in opposition to the animal rights platform of Carol J. Adams , which Plumwood called ontological veganism and which she criticized for its endorsement of human / nature dualism. [22]

Crocodile attack

In “Human vulnerability and the experience of being prey” (1995), Plumwood describes how she survives an attack by a crocodile on 19 February 1985, and her experience of a paradigm shift from what she called the “individual justice universe”, where humans are always the predators, to the “Heraclitean universe”, where we are just another part of the food chain. [11] During a visit to Kakadu National Park , Plumwood had been camped at the East Alligator ranger station and borrowed at the meter-long, fiberglass canoe from Greg Miles, the park ranger, to explore the East Alligator Lagoon. [23] [24]

When I get out of my way to a rock outcrop rising out of the swamp for a hasty, sodden lunch, I am experiencing the unfamiliar sensation of being watched. Having never been one for timidity, in philosophy or in life, I decided to go back to the first day of my life. … I had not gone away when I was not gone when I was in the lead, when I was in the lead, I saw ahead of me in midstream what looked like a floating stick – I did not remember passing on my way up. As the current moved me to it, the stick appeared to develop eyes.

Crocodiles do not often attack canoes, but this one is starting with its tail. Plumwood grabbed some overhanging branches, but before she could pull herself up, the crocodile, a “centrifugal of whirling, boiling blackness,” as it seemed about to tear my limbs from my body, driving waters into my bursting lungs. ” [11]

The crocodile briefly let her go, then she gets her way, subjecting her to such “death rolls” before she manages to escape up to steep mud bank. DESPITE severe injuries – her left leg Was exposed to the bone, and she found Later That She Had contracted melioidosis – she Began walking, crawling Then, the three kilometers to the store station. The park ranger had gone looking for her when she was driving her. She underwent a 13-hour trip to hospital in Darwin , where she spent a month in intensive care followed by extensive skin grafts. [11] [25] [26] The canoe is now in the National Museum of Australia . [24]

The experience gave Plumwood a glimpse of the world “from the outside”, a world that was indifferent to her and continued without her: “an unrecognisably bleak order” – “As my own narrative and the larger story were ripped apart, I glimpsed a shockingly indifferent world in qui I had no more significance than Any Other edible being white. The thought, This can not be happening to me, I’m a human being white. I am more than just food! was one component of my incredulity terminal It was a shocking reduction, from a complex human being to a mother of a child. much more than edible. ” [11] [n 1] She argued that our anthropocentric view, the “individual justice universe”, is disconnected from reality:

[I] n the individual justice universe the individual is the person-as-the-walled-moated-castle-town. It is under constant siege and desperately, obsessively seeking to keep the body alive. Of course we know the walled-moated castle will be able to stay as long as we can.

In the individual / justice universe you own the energy of your body and much more than that of energy defending it frantically against all comers. Any attempt by others is considered to be an outrage, an injustice, which must be resisted to the hilt (consider these reactions to the overfamiliar gatecrashers at our high-class feast-mosquitoes, leeches, ticks, these outrageous proprietary sensibilities). In the other, Heraclitean universe, being in your body is more like having a volume out of the library, a volume subject to more than a few minutes ago when they get it. [28]

Selected works

  • (2012) The Eye of the Crocodile , edited by Lorraine Shannon. Canberra: Australian National University E Press.
  • (2002) Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason , Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • (1993) Feminism and the Mastery of Nature , London: Routledge.
  • (1982) with Richard Routley, Robert K. Meyer, Ross T. Brady. Relevant Logics and Their Rivals , Atascadero, CA: Ridgewood Publications.
  • (1973) with Richard Routley, The Fight for the Forests: The Takeover of Australian Forests for Pines, Wood Chips and Intensive Forestry , Research School of Social Sciences, Canberra: Australian National University.
  • (2009) “Nature in the Active Voice” , Australian Humanities Review , 46, May.
  • (2003) “The Fight for the Revisited Forests” , paper delivered to Win, Lose or Draw: the Fight for the Forests? A Symposium , Old Canberra House, Australian National University, 14 October.
  • (2003) “The Politics of Reason: Toward a Feminist Logic, in Rachel Joffe Falmagne, Marjorie Hass (eds.), Representing Reason: Feminist Theory and Formal Logic , Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • (2003) “Feminism and the Logic of Alterity”, in Falmagne and Hass, op cit .
  • (1995) “Human Vulnerability and the Experience of Being Prey,” Quadrant , 29 (3), March 1995, pp. 29-34; reprinted here; also as “Being Prey” , Terra Nova , 1 (3), 1996.
  • (1991) “Gaia, Good for Women ,” Refractory Girl , 41, pp. 11-16, also in the American Philosophical Association on Women and Philosophy , April.
  • (1991) “Ethics and Instrumentalism: A Response to Janna Thompson,” Environmental Ethics , 13, pp. 139-149.
  • (1991) “Nature, Self, and Gender: Feminism, Environmental Philosophy, and the Critique of Rationalism,” Hypatia , 6 (1), March 1991, pp. 3-27. doi : 10.1111 / j.1527-2001.1991.tb00206.x JSTOR  3810030
  • (1989) “Do we need a sex / gender distinction?” Radical Philosophy , 51, pp. 2-11.
  • (1988) “Women, humanity and nature,” Radical Philosophy, 48, pp. 16-24, reprinted in S. Sayers, P. Osborne (eds.),Feminism, Socialism and Philosophy: A Radical Philosophy Reader , London: Routledge, 1990.
  • (1986) “Ecofeminism: An Overview and Discussion of Positions and Arguments,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy , 64, Supplement 1, pp. 120-138. doi : 10.1080 / 00048402.1986.9755430
  • (1986) with Richard Routley. “The ‘Fight for the Forests’ affair” , in Brian Martin et al. (eds.), Intellectual Suppression , Sydney: Angus & Robertson, pp. 70-73.
  • (1985) with Richard Routley. “Negation and contradiction” , Revista Colombiana de Matematicas , 19, pp. 201-231.
  • (1982) “World Rainforest Destruction – The Social Factors,” Ecologist , 12 (1), pp. 4-22.
  • (1980) “Social theories, self management, and environmental problems” , in DS Mannison, MA McRobbie & Richard Routley (eds.), Environmental Philosophy , Australian National University Research School of Social Sciences, pp. 217-332.
  • (1980) with Richard Routley. “Human Chauvinism and Environmental Ethics,” in D. Mannison, M. McRobbie and R. Routley (eds.), Environmental Philosophy , Canberra: Australian National University Department of Philosophy Monograph Series RSSS, pp. 96-189.
  • (1978) with Richard Routley. “Nuclear energy and obligations to the future,” Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy , 21 (1-4), pp. 133-179. doi : 10.1080 / 00201747808601840
  • (1975) “Critical note of Passmore’s Man’s Responsibility for Nature ,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy , 53 (2), pp. 171-185.
  • (1972) with Richart Routley, “The Semantics of First Degree Entailment,” Noûs , 6 (4), November, pp. 335-359. JSTOR  2214309

See also

  • Judith Wright


  1. Jump up^ It was not only unjust but unreal! It could not be happening.”After much later reflection, I was in the mood for the illusion, but it was the other way around. in the world, where I was prey, in fact, the unsuspected reality, or at least a crucial part of it. ” [27]


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Freya Mathews Kate Rigby, Deborah Rose, “Introduction,” in Val Plumwood, The Eye of the Crocodile , edited by Lorraine Shannon, Canberra: Australian National University E Press, 2012, p. 4.
  2. Jump up^ Dominic Hyde,Eco-Logical Lives. The Philosophical Lives of Richard Routley / Sylvan and Val Routley / Plumwood, Cambridge: White Horse Press, 2014, pp. 39-40.
  3. ^ Jump up to:b Freya Mathews, “Val Plumwood” , The Guardian , 26 March 2008.
  4. ^ Jump up to:b “Val Plumwood (11 August 1939 to 29 February 2008)” , International Society for Environmental Ethics .
  5. ^ Jump up to:c Nicholas Griffin, “Plumwood Val, 1939-“, in Joy Palmer (ed.), Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment , London: Routledge, 2001, pp. 283-288.
  6. Jump up^ Mulligan Martin, Stuart Hill,Ecological Pioneers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp. 274-300.
  7. Jump up^ Victoria Davion, “Introduction”,Ethics and the Environment,, 14 (2), Special Issue on Ecofeminism in Honor of Val Plumwood, Fall 2009.JSTOR 10.2979 / ete.2009.14.2.1
  8. ^ Jump up to:b “Val Plumwood” , Social and Political Theory Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 21 November 2008 archived.
  9. Jump up^ Joe Gelonesi,”Two lives, green and logical”, “The Philosophers Zone”, ABC, April 20, 2014; audio, from c. 3:00 mins for the book.
  10. Jump up^ Patsy Hallen, “Review:Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reasonby Val Plumwood,”Ethics and the Environment, 7 (2), Autumn 2002, pp. 181-184. JSTOR 40339041
  11. ^ Jump up to:f Val Plumwood, “Human vulnerability and the experience of being white prey,” Quadrant , 29 (3), March 1995, pp. 29-34; reprinted here , here and here , also as “Being Prey”, Terra Nova , 1 (3), Summer 1996, pp. 32-44, and James O’Reilly, Sean O’Reilly, Richard Sterling (eds.), The Ultimate Journey , 2000, Travelers’ Tales, p. 128ff .
  12. Jump up^ Plumwood Valley, The Eye of the Crocodile , edited by Lorraine Shannon, Canberra: Australian National University Press, 2012, p. 35.
  13. ^ Jump up to:b Mulligan and Hill 2001, p. 282.
  14. Jump up^ Alan Saunders,”Philosophy and the Natural World – Val Plumwood”, “The Philosophers Zone”, ABC, 15 March 2008 (audio, c 2:40 mins..
  15. ^ Jump up to:c Hyde 2014, p. 50.
  16. ^ Jump up to:b Mulligan and Hill 2001, p. 283.
  17. Jump up^ For the children’s names, Rod McGuirk,”Val Plumwood, 68, feminist, activist for the environment,”Associated Press, March 8, 2008.
  18. Jump up^ Plumwood, Val Plumwood, “The Cemetery Wars: Cemeteries, Biodiversity and the Sacred”, Martin Mulligan and Yaso Nadarajah (eds.),Local-Global: Identity, Security andPlumwoodcommunity, Vol. 3. Special issue: Exploring the Legacy of Judith Wright, 2007 (pp. 54-71), pp. 58-59.
  19. Jump up^ Deborah Bird Rose,”Plumwood’s Val Philosophical Animism: Mindful Interactions in the Feel World”,Environmental Humanities, 3, 2013 (pp. 93-109), p. 94; Mulligan and Hill 2001, pp. 281-283.
  20. Jump up^ Hyde 2014, pp. 85-87.
  21. Jump up^ “Snake blamed as academic found dead,”Australian Associated Press, March 3, 2008. “Val Plumwood died of natural causes: friend,” Australian Associated Press, March 6, 2008.James Woodford, “Philosopher hast prey, a life of survival” , Sydney Morning Herald , March 8, 2008.
  22. Jump up^ Plumwood 2012, p. 78.
  23. Jump up^ Hyde 2014, p. 7.
  24. ^ Jump up to:b “Val Plumwood canoe” , National Museum of Australia.
  25. Jump up^ Plumwood Valley. “Taken by a crocodile”, as told to Michelle Hamer,The Age, January 12, 2004.
  26. Jump up^ Hyde 2014, p. 12.
  27. Jump up^ Plumwood 2012, pp. 11-12.
  28. Jump up^ Plumwood 2012, p. 35.

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