Although the term "ökologie" was coined in 1866 by Ernst Haeckel, ecological thinking--the idea of an environment in which beings mutually support one another--was widespread long before 1866. In this talk, I trace the emergence of ecological thinking in Germany from Herder to Alexander von Humboldt, situate this emergence within a movement that I call "romantic empiricism," and argue that romantic empiricism was a major force in the emergence of ecological thinking. I conclude by considering what we today might learn from romantic empiricism.
Dalia Nassar is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sydney, a Key Researcher at the Sydney Environment Institute, and a member of the research initiative, Multi-species Justice. She works on the history of Nineteenth Century German philosophy, with a specia focus on the idea of nature and the emergence of ecological thinking in the first part of the century. She is the author of The Romantic Absolute: Being and Knowing in German Romantic Philosophy (University of Chicago, 2014); and editor of The Relevance of Romanticism (Oxford University Press, 2014)