How Nature Speaks

The Dynamics of the Human Ecological Condition

How Nature Speaks

New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century

More about this series

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 1 photograph, 2 tables, 20 figures Published: March 2006

Environmental Studies, Geography, Science and Technology Studies

How Nature Speaks illustrates the convergence of complexity theory in the biophysical and social sciences and the implications of the science of complexity for environmental politics and practice. This collection of essays focuses on uncertainty, surprise, and positionality—situated rather than absolute knowledge—in studies of nature by people embedded within the very thing they purport to study from the outside. The contributors address the complicated relationship between scientists and nature as part of a broader reassessment of how we conceive of ourselves, knowledge, and the world that we both inhabit and shape.

Exploring ways of conceiving the complexity and multiplicity of humans’ many interactive relationships with the environment, the contributors provide in-depth case studies of the interweaving of culture and nature in socio-historical processes. The case studies focus on the origin of environmental movements, the politicization of environmental issues in city politics, the development of a local energy production system, and the convergence of forest management practices toward a dominant scheme. They are supported by explorations of big-picture issues: recurring themes in studies of social and environmental dynamics, the difficulties of deliberative democracy, and the potential gains for socio-ecological research offered by developmental systems theory and Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of intentionality.

How Nature Speaks includes a helpful primer, “On Thinking Dynamically about the Human Ecological Condition,” which explains the basic principles of complexity and nonlinear thinking.

Contributors. Chuck Dyke, Yrjö Haila, Ari Jokinen, Ville Lähde, Markus Laine, Iordanis Marcoulatos, John O’Neill, Susan Oyama, Taru Peltola, Lasse Peltonen, John Shotter, Peter Taylor


How Nature Speaks makes a valuable contribution in an area where such theoretical ‘deeper’ thinking is needed.” — David J. Brunckhorst, Environmental Conservation

“The strength of the collection lies in the contributors’ creative and exploratory applications of scientific models in complexity and non-linear thinking to social movements and political debate.” — Cheryl Lousley, The Goose

“This is not just another book on ecology! It is a book that makes the reader contemplate the most appropriate way to think about ecology.” — Hefin Jones, Biologist

“How to make nature speak? Whoever thought that the gravity of the current ecological problems leaves us no choice but to try and manage nature as best as we can is well advised to read this book. This fine collection gives us profound insights into the complex ways in which nature and the social are interwoven. Nature is not out there; it is present in every category we use to try and understand our environment. A product of years of scholarship, this is a welcome contribution to the literature.” — Maarten Hajer, University of Amsterdam

“What? Another book on ecology and how we are messing up the world? Is this book really necessary? This is not just another book on ecology. It is a book about how to think about ecology. Philosophical explorations, metaphorical musings, case histories of community action seen in the light of systems dynamics, and mathematical exposition of non-linear dynamics in clear intuitive terms all converge to help us see the richness of ecology as the paradigmatic science for understanding complexity. And yes, this book is necessary.” — Richard Levins, Harvard University


Availability: In stock
Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Yrjö Haila is Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Tampere in Finland. Among his books are Humanity and Nature (with Richard Levins) and several books in Finnish.

Chuck Dyke is Professor of Philosophy at Temple University. He is the author of The Evolutionary Dynamics of Complex Systems and Through the Genetic Maze.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface vii

ntroduction: What to Say about Nature’s “Speech” / Yrjo Haila and Chuck Dyke 1

Speaking of Nature / Susan Oyama 49

Natural Speech: A Hoary Story / Chuck Dyke 66

Gardens, Climate Changes, and Cultures: An Exploration into the Historical Nature of Environmental Problems / Ville Lähde 78

Participative Thinking: “Seeing the Face” and “Hearing the Voice” of Nature / John Shotter 106

Rethinking Intentionality: A Bourdieuian Perspective/ Iordanis Marcoulatos 127

Fluids on the Move: An Analogical Account of Environmental Mobilization / Lasse Peltonen 150

Fight Over the Face of Tampere: A Sneaking Transformation of a Local Political Field / Markus Laine 177

Stand/ardization and Entrainment in Forest Management / Ari Jokinen 198

Calculating the Futures: Stability and Change in a Local Energy Production System / Taru Peltola 218

Exploring Themes about Social Agency through Interpretation of Diagrams of Nature and Society / Peter Taylor 235

Who Speaks for Nature? / John O’Neill 261

Appendix: Primer: On Thinking Dynamically about the Human Ecological Condition / Chuck Dyke 279

References 303

Notes on Contributors 323

Index 325
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3696-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3725-6
Publicity material