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Urbanization and the Wilderness

Thu, August 30, 9:00 to 10:30am, ICC, E3.10


Some people recently proposed a new term “Anthrocene”, an epoch dating the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems. The negative human impact on the Earth includes the homogenocene, the acceleration of the rate of species extinction, global warming, the rapid change of biogeography, etc. Urbanization is one of the major causes of these phenomena. Modern cities themselves are technological artifacts. They are designed by humans, artificially constructed, and technologically organized and maintained. However, different from other artifacts, cities seem to have a sort of autonomy such that living beings have. A city grows as a coral reef or a forest grows. They develop beyond the prospects of the town planner. Even most powerful politicians can hardly control their development. It is the wilderness that has been eroded by the expansion of human habitat. The definition of a wilderness is “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain”. The wilderness has been recognized as having spiritual, philosophical, religious, and democratic values. The objective of sustainable development is to find a balance between human habitat and the wilderness, between urbanization and nature preservation, and between technological artifacts and natural things. What kind of balance is possible and desirable? Is a sustainable city really possible? I will discuss the possibility of sustainable urbanization through the reference to the works on building, housing, and residing by Heidegger, Watsuji, Casey, and other phenomenologists.