Philosophy and the Environmental Dilemma


On Wednesday evening a dozen students gathered for the first Philosophy Club meeting of the semester. They pondered a simple question: what is nature? The club offers bi-weekly meetings to discuss thought-provoking ideas with FHSU students. 

President Anne-Sophie Tooley, who is an FHSU English graduate student, and Vice President Greg Tooley, who is studying biology, organized the meeting to discuss nature. 

“We decided to discuss Environmental Philosophy because of its relevance to our present day. Oftentimes, we get caught up in the ‘how’ of protecting nature rather than the ‘why,’” Anne-Sophie Tooley said. 

“With the ongoing environmental crisis, it is important to discuss the way in which nature is valuable in order to justify humanity’s efforts to conserve it,” Greg Tooley said.

A literal circle of thought was created by the students who were seated around the classroom for the open discussion in Rarick Hall. Students were from backgrounds varying from philosophy to English and psychology; there were even students representing the KAMS program. The club welcomes all students, regardless of major.

“Having a philosophy club at FHSU allows people to come together and share ideas with others in a thoughtful, rational way,” Greg Tooley said. “By doing this, they are able to grow and become more developed individuals.” 

During the course of the conversation, students were able to share their diverse opinions and challenge other’s views. Students used concepts not only from philosophy classes but also from psychology and biology to establish the place of humans in the natural world. Some important points made in the discussion were: Does the natural world have value? How can we exist in the world and respect the environment? Is agriculture natural? What will it take for society to use renewable energy? And could another mass extinction be a result of the environmental crisis?

Many questions about our role in the natural world were discussed, and many separate conclusions made. But one truth was made clear: the philosophy club at FHSU cares about the world we inhabit and promotes that everyone should have a voice in our planet’s future. 

Philosophy is a core subject for a liberal arts education and is beneficial to any student who is curious about the world. 

“Philosophy teaches you how to think, what to value, and how to live. As Socrates famously said, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living,’” Anne-Sophie Tooley said.

Sound Off!