In modern, urbanized societies, our engagement with the natural environment often seems controlled and distant, reduced to strolls through city parks or walks along well-trodden paths. Human life is now far removed from its prehistoric origins, when humans dwelt deep within the forests and depended on them for their survival.
In this important book, Vladimir Bibikhin, one of Russia’s most influential 20th-century philosophers, argues that, although most humans now live far from the proximity of woods and forests, our existence remains profoundly linked with these spaces. It was Aristotle who first appreciated their primal role, even deriving his notion of “matter” from the Greek words for wood and forest. As timber, the woods may be seen as inanimate material, but at the same time they also constitute a living ecosystem and the source of energy and life. By opening up this duality, the woods are transformed from simple matter to a living environment, serving as a reminder that we belong to the world of biological life to a far greater extent than we usually think.
Drawing on a wealth of writers and thinkers including Heidegger and Darwin, <i>The Woods</i> will be of interest to students and scholars in philosophy and the humanities generally, as well as to a wider readership concerned with environmental issues and our relationship to the natural world.