Augustinian Ecological Democracy

Postmodern Nature and the City of God


  • Bronislaw Szerszynski Lancaster University



Klaus Eder, Ulrich Beck, ecological democracy, pagan


In this article I critically explore the work of the social theorists Klaus Eder and Ulrich Beck, who in different ways use an account of the ‘postmodern’, plural character of contemporary ideas of nature to argue for the necessity and possibility of an ecological democracy. I argue that within such social theoretical understandings of the contemporary politics of nature is a tension between pagan and Christian understandings of difference—between an understanding of difference as fundamentally irreducible and irreconcilable, and one that sees difference as contained within an over-arching harmony. I cast suspicion on an account of postmodern difference which would see it as the resurgence of a pagan polytheism which had merely suppressed by two millennia of monotheism, in favour of an alternative account in which it appears as a historical product of the contingent path taken by the development of the Western sacred. I then explore ways in which Christian thought can provide the basis for an ontology of original peace in contrast to the original violence of pagan thought, on the basis of which might be built a different, ‘gothic’ understanding of ecological democracy, in which consensus is not grounded in the suppression of polysemy but in the harmonization of generative difference.

Author Biography

Bronislaw Szerszynski, Lancaster University

Chair of the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, Institute for Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YG


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How to Cite

Szerszynski, B. (2004). Augustinian Ecological Democracy: Postmodern Nature and the City of God. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 9(3), 338–358.