Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226326399 Will Publish August 2017
An e-book edition will be published.

Our Oldest Task

Making Sense of Our Place in Nature

Eric T. Freyfogle

Our Oldest Task

Eric T. Freyfogle

240 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2017
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226326399 Will Publish August 2017
E-book $36.00 ISBN: 9780226326429 Will Publish August 2017
“This is a book about nature and culture,” Eric T. Freyfogle writes, “about our place and plight on earth, and the nagging challenges we face in living on it in ways that might endure.” Challenges, he says, we are clearly failing to meet. Harking back to a key phrase from the essays of eminent American conservationist Aldo Leopold, Our Oldest Task spins together lessons from history and philosophy, the life sciences and politics, economics and cultural studies in a personal, erudite quest to understand how we might live on—and in accord with—the land.

Passionate and pragmatic, extraordinarily well-read and eloquent, Freyfogle details a host of forces that have produced our self-defeating ethos of human exceptionalism. It is this outlook, he argues, not a lack of scientific knowledge or inadequate technology, that is the primary cause of our ecological predicament. Seeking to comprehend both the multifaceted complexity of contemporary environmental problems and the zeitgeist as it unfolds, Freyfogle explores such diverse topics as morality, the nature of reality (and the reality of nature), animal welfare, social justice movements, and market politics. The result is a learned and inspiring rallying cry to achieve balance, a call to use our knowledge to more accurately identify the dividing line between living in and on the world and destruction. “To use nature,” Freyfogle writes, “but not to abuse it.”
Review Quotes
Donald Worster, University of Kansas | author of "A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir"
“Freyfogle has become a valuable contributor to a broad discourse about environmental challenges that is deep-probing, historically informed, and wise in prescriptions. In this important book, he pushes us one step further into understanding how and why we have so many environmental problems and what their ‘solution’ will require in the largest cultural sense. Clearly and logically organized, written without jargon but also without oversimplification, Our Oldest Task provides an important critique of American and other modern cultures and of the environmental movement within those cultures. In a way, Freyfogle wants to modernize conservatism, giving it more ecological sensitivity and making it less hierarchical in outlook, as well as emphasize communitarian values that would replace the dominant individualistic ethos of the past 200 years. His call for more substantial philosophical reflection is much needed.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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