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2009 312 pp.

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The Nature of Being Human

From Environmentalism to Consciousness
Harold Fromm

Although the physical relationship between the natural world and individuals is quantifiable, the psychosocial effect of the former on the latter is often less tangible. What, for instance, is the connection between the environment in which we live and our creativity? How is our consciousness bounded and delimited by our materiality? And from whence does our idea of self and our belief in free will derive and when do our surroundings challenge these basic assumptions?

Ecocritic Harold Fromm's challenging exploration of these and related questions twines his own physical experiences and observations with insights gathered from both the humanities and the sciences. Writing broadly and personally, Fromm explores our views of nature and how we write about it. He ties together ecology, evolutionary psychology, and consciousness studies to show that our perceived separation from our surroundings is an illusory construct. He argues for a naturalistic vision of creativity, free will, and the literary arts unimpeded by common academic and professional restraints. At each point of this intellectual journey, Fromm is honest, engaging, and unsparing.

Philosophical, critical, often personal, Fromm's sweeping, interdisciplinary, and sometimes combative essays will change the way you think about your place in the environment.

"Fromm's contrarian view is explored beautifully in 'Ecology and Ecstasy on Interstate 80,' declaring that 'everything human is technological' while driving through the Sierras. The closing essays examine more esoteric issues of free will and social evolution. Fans of nature writing will find Fromm's travels witty and engaging, and his analysis unblemished by typical academic pretension or abstraction." -- Publishers Weekly

"How rare it is that a work of philosophical inquiry is written with the passion of a cri de coeur, but Harold Fromm's brilliantly conceived The Nature of Being Human resonates with such uncanny depths. Here is an utterly engrossing first—person account of a harrowing pilgrimage into the 21st century and its disturbing revelations about humankind's truest nature, in contrast to the comforting solicitudes of a 'humanist' past. If the role of the philosopher is to force us to think, Harold Fromm is a born philosopher." -- Joyce Carol Oates

"Harold Fromm writes about 'awakening to the environment,' but his book is much more. A desperately needed, beautifully crafted manifesto, it is nothing less than a great humanist awakening to the reality of also being a material, fully biological creature." -- David P. Barash, coauthor of How Women Got Their Curves and Other Just—So Stories

"Fromm delineates three main movements in the naturalistic thinking of the past several decades -- ecology, Darwinism, and consciousness studies. He brings a fine and subtle literary intelligence to bear on these subjects, brilliantly illuminating their imaginative implications. His prose is vibrant, vigorous, pithy, and often humorous." -- Joseph Carroll, author of Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature, and Literature

"Perfect for classroom discussion and debate." -- Midwest Book Review

"Fromm, an erudite, prolific author of numerous works ranging from ecocritical commentary to self—reflective discourses, presents a compilation of essays that illuminate his views regarding why most Americans seem oblivious to the destruction of their environment." -- Choice

"Fromm's journey from victim, to campaigner, to pioneer of eco—criticism (that is, the study of literature from an ecological viewpoint) is documented here, alongside challenging analyses of man's place in nature, free will, our relationship with technology and more. Scholarly but engaging, Fromm is an environmentalist, but also a realist." -- Organic Gardener

Harold Fromm is a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona whose writings on the self, the environment, and academia have been widely read and debated. He is the coeditor of The Ecocriticism Reader and the author of Academic Capitalism and Literary Value.

Related Links:
Harold Fromm's website

Related Books:
Nature Revealed: Selected Writings, 1949—2006
Edward O. Wilson

Nested Ecology: The Place of Humans in the Ecological Hierarchy
Edward T. Wimberley
foreword by John F. Haught