Edited by Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos and Victoria Brooks
Chapter 21: Listening to the world: sounding out the surroundings of environmental law with Michel Serres
This chapter draws on the work of the French philosopher Michel Serres and his exposition of the notions of appropriation, the distinctions of subjects and objects, hard and soft pollution, and local and global perceptions, and discusses them as essential devices for the legal comprehension of the environment. This chapter has a triple intent. First, it aims to deploy Serres’s thinking on nature and its broken relation to humanity in order to recognise how law with its principles, functions and operations plays a significant role in constituting both this break, and this relation. Serres’s excogitation on law reveals that our relation with nature is intrinsically a legal one. Second, by identifying Serres’s understanding of the relationship between law and nature, this chapter offers a way into ‘sounding out’ environmental law, and importantly, to recognise law as antecedently ‘environmental’ (before even being called specifically environmental). At first glance contradictory but still within the aims of this handbook to provide novel methods to approaching and understanding environmental law, the final aim is to employ Serres’s ‘anti-method’ and understanding of knowledge. This important aspect of Serres’s idiosyncratic approach is gradually unfolded in the text that follows.
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