European conservatism and the study of nature: From sacralization of nature to nihilism


The issue of how we understand nature and operate with it goes beyond the scope of ecology or economics and directly affects the ontological-anthropological foundations of culture. The subject-object model that dominates today claims universal validity, but many thinkers challenge its universality. Representatives of the European continental conservative thought of the 20th - early 21st centuries focus on the already accepted forms of natural knowledge and nature relations, which do not imply the objectification of nature or its reduction to an economic resource. These cultural forms belong to the historical past, which raises the question of the possible return to them by the contemporary man or of their possible return to his life. The article starts with the analysis of the nature-knowledge that dominated, according to the mentioned conservative thinkers, before the modern ‘objectification’ of nature. The author considers two related but non-identical approaches to the ‘traditional’ understanding of nature developed by these thinkers. The first approach claims the ‘sanctification of nature’, i.e., the natural world is not objectified but understood as a single reality that includes the man and has a sacred status. The second approach is represented by the metaphysically oriented conservatists and considers the natural world primarily through its function of symbolizing the transcendent supernatural world. Then the author considers the conservative thinkers’ views on the ‘nihilism’ of the last centuries, which led to the current subjectobject relationship with nature, and focuses on their perception of the Christian understanding of nature. The article concludes with the hypothesis that the recognition of each culture’s ‘right to its own nature’ (the essence of the contemporary cultural pluralism) can help to overcome the universalization of a specific understanding of nature by choosing a different model known to this culture in past epochs.

About the authors

Ph. V. Tagirov

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.
Miklukho-Maklaya St., 6, Moscow; 117198, Russia


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