Det Biotopiske: En filosofisk og semantisk analyse af brugen af tegnet ’natur’ i Natur- og Landbrugskommissionens rapport af 2013

Ulrik Rantzau

Student thesis: Master thesis


Summary: The Biotopical - A philosophical and semantic analysis of the use of the sign ’nature’ in The Commission on Nature and Agriculture’s report as of 2013. In this thesis I have attempted to understand the implications of the notion of nature within a political context. This begets an analytical pincer movement: The point of interest must be at the intersection of be the notion of nature in a broad social sense, and the usage of nature in a strictly empirical sense. Following Hegel, nature is understood negatively as ‘an idea in the form of otherness.’ This implicates that nature does not designate any positive semantic kernel, but can only be understood as what it, in a specific context, is not. I find that in The Commission on Nature and Agriculture’s report, which produces a number of recommendations to Danish lawmakers, nature is consistently presented as either a specific place or as an abstract space. This process of configuring nature as space on a semantic and practical level is what I choose to call the biotopical (from Greek, bio = life, topos = space). I find that the biotopical operation takes place through a number of dialectical stages: Firstly, through an understanding of nature as a pure essence, which cannot be delimitated, but which instead constitutes a horizon of semantic elusion by way of its otherness. Secondly, this elusive nothing presents itself as an elusive something, that is, as a lack. This lack is imagined to be the lack of an abstract natural substance, understood as some primordial being that is hidden behind the natural things. This purely metaphysical substance is thought to be ‘that which is in its proper place’, and thus, thirdly, the lack of this big natural other, becomes a very existential lack, as it designates the social condition of ‘being in one’s proper place.’ In the attempt to attain this holistic natural state, the biotopical designates the move to find and delimitate this abstract natural substance. Spurred by social pressure the biotopical births the only comprehendible nature as a dialectical synthesis: nature as place (the biotope). The more ardently this designation of nature as place is carried out, the more elusive the metaphysical natural substance seems, which then, through an act of absolute recoil, encourages the biotopical further. I conclude that, as a political notion, nature is obfuscating the very thing it designates: the natural objects in our immediate environment. Furthermore, nature must be abolished in order to understand the landscape not as a primordial or non-human moral entity, but as a precarious ethical challenge.

EducationsMSc in Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages76