Michael Marder, "Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life" (Columbia UP, 2013)


"If animals have suffered marginalization throughout the history of Western thought, then non-human, non-animal living beings, such as plants, have populated the margin of the margin", a "zone of absolute obscurity" in which their mode of existence from a philosophical perspective is not even question-worthy. So writes Michael Marder, Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country in the Basque autonomous region of Spain, in his new book, Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life (Columbia University Press, 2013). The metaphor of "ground-breaking" has never been so apt. Contrasting his view with the Aristotelean perspective in which plants are basically defective animals, Marder initiates inquiry into the nature of vegetal life on its own terms, and into how human life currently encounters, and how it should encounter, this radically foreign mode of existence. Marder's goal is nothing less than a sort of Nietzschean "revaluation of values" when it comes to vegetal life.

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Carrie Figdor

Carrie Figdor is professor of philosophy at the University of Iowa.

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