The Nature of Being Human : from Environmentalism to Consciousness
The Nature of Being Human:
From Environmentalism to Consciousness
Harold Fromm. Johns Hopkins Univ., $35 (304p) ISBN 9780801891298
This essay collection, updated with contextualizing commentary, covers three decades of work from environmental studies pioneer Fromm (Academic Capitalism and Literary Value). His seminal 1976 article, “On Being Polluted,” describes his move from
Southwestern American Literature; Spring 2009, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p104-106, 3p, 1 bw
Sierra Club notice
Organic Gardener • January/February 2010
[an Australian magazine]
The Nature of Being Human
(distributed by Footprint Books)
Hardcover, 288 pages, $66
The earliest in this collection of essays
by US academic Fromm dates back to
1976. It was written after he moved
to a small farm near
have his health devastated by pollution
from oil refineries 25 kilometres away.
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.
– Simon Webster
From CHOICE, October 2009
Science & Technology \ Biology \ General
|The nature of being human: from environmentalism to consciousness. Johns Hopkins, 2009. 299p bibl index afp ISBN 0-8018-9129-9, $35.00; ISBN 9780801891298, $35.00. Reviewed in 2009oct CHOICE..|
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. The essays in the 23-chapter book cover three broad areas: ecology, nature/evolution, and consciousness. The author's personal discourses, primarily experiences with pollution, contribute to his observations of the insidious deterioration of the environment. Fromm also presents a complex, densely written discussion on the relationship between materiality (physical person who ostensibly believes in free will and decision making derived from experience) and consciousness (defined by neuroscience as directed by neurons and synapses that are self-directing, deterministic systems). He illuminates the connection between these seemingly disparate topics by revealing the shift in his reflective analytical thoughts across several decades. Essentially his perspective is an evolved conclusion that the humanities, his primary academic background, are seriously flawed in light of the implications of environmental events. He further indicates that this discipline is failing to even consider the implications of what science is reporting about how free-will humans function as they do. Because of the scope of material presented, this volume likely will be fully appreciated only by advanced academic/professional audiences. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and above.-- M. Evans, emeritus, SUNY Empire State College
Francisco Ayala in
The Evolutionary Review, volume 1, SUNY Press, 2010
. . . There is much to appreciate in Fromm’s four chapters on “consciousness,” my criticisms not withstanding. I enjoyed these chapters as well as all the others. Fromm’s prose is beautiful, his environmental concerns are real and vividly conveyed, and his put-down of the literary critics of scientific knowledge as a social construction is, in the opinion of this reviewer, justified and effective. The Nature of Being Human is a good read—enjoyable and instructive.
FROM: THE BRITISH SOCIETY FOR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE (Click for complete review.)
“The Nature of Being Human is a lively, opinionated, impressively learned and always readable contribution to the current debate on the human and natural costs of the dogma of ‘progress’.”
Review by Glen Love in ISLE 17.2 (Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment)
“In a very personal sense, Harold Fromm came by his latent
environmental consciousness in the truest neo-Darwinian way,
through the body, as a victim of home-grown American industrial air
Review by Piers H. G. Stephens, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Georgia
in Organization and Environment, December 2010.
This is a meaty, intelligent, and well-considered reading of The Nature of Being Human.
Review by Simon Appolloni (Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture: volume 6.1, 2012)
“This book is the philosophical product of a journey of ‘jolts’ for Harold Fromm, author
of numerous writings on the environment, academia, and the self. . . .”
Review by Greg Garrard ( Oxford Journals, Humanities, Year's Work Critical and Cultural Theory, Volume 19, Issue 1, Pp. 46-82)