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Environmental ethics for a fallen world; Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733) and the boundaries of human agency

Sara Miglietti
Environmental ethics for a fallen world; Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733) and the boundaries of human agency (in Early-modern geological agency, a theme session convened at the 2018 INHIGEO meeting in Mexico City, Tina Asmussen (prefacer) and Pietro Daniel Omodeo (prefacer))
Earth Sciences History (October 2020) 39 (2): 447-473

Abstract

This article traces the formation of a (self-)critical discourse around human environmental agency in early Enlightenment Europe, focusing on the Swiss naturalist Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733) and the Royal Society milieus to which he was connected. In manuscript and printed writings, and particularly in his beautifully illustrated Physica sacra (1731-1735), Scheuchzer used a combination of biblical exegesis, thought experiments, and ecological insights to reflect about the relationship between God, humankind, and nature. Against claims that the tradition of natural theology in which Scheuchzer belonged "prevented and delayed the acknowledgment of the earth as vulnerable" (Kempe 2003b, p. 166), the article shows how different thinkers could use the Bible to support competing claims regarding the role of humans as agents in God's creation. While some authors enthusiastically upheld contemporary ideologies of environmental 'improvement', others-including Scheuchzer himself-called for greater self-restraint and developed a biblically-grounded form of precautionary environmental ethics.


ISSN: 0736-623X
EISSN: 1944-6187
Serial Title: Earth Sciences History
Serial Volume: 39
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Environmental ethics for a fallen world; Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733) and the boundaries of human agency
Title: Early-modern geological agency, a theme session convened at the 2018 INHIGEO meeting in Mexico City
Author(s): Miglietti, Sara
Author(s): Asmussen, Tinaprefacer
Author(s): Omodeo, Pietro Danielprefacer
Affiliation: University of London, The Warburg Institute, London, United Kingdom
Affiliation: German Minning Museum, Bochum, Germany
Pages: 447-473
Published: 202010
Text Language: English
Publisher: History of the Earth Sciences Society, Troy, NY, United States
Meeting name: 43rd conference of the International Commission on the History of Geological Sciences (INHIGEO)
Meeting location: Mexico City, MEX, Mexico
Meeting date: 20181112Nov. 12-22, 2018
References: 57
Accession Number: 2022-060674
Categories: Environmental geology
Document Type: Serial Conference document
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 2022
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