Between Thankfulness and Love

William Desmond’s Philosophy of Use for a Religious Ecological Ethic


  • Ethan Vanderleek Marquette University



Transcendence, William Desmond, Modernity, Use, Technology, Heidegger, Michel Henry, thankfulness, love


Philosophers in the 20th and 21st centuries have offered criticisms of the excesses of human use over the natural world and emphasized how use is increasingly controlled by technological determinism. Martin Heidegger and Michel Henry have contributed to this line of criticism, but both fall short in their critiques and recommendations because they lack a robust notion of transcendence. The philosophy of William Desmond, however, provides a historical and systematic account of human use that critiques modern culture and provides ethical and religious trajectories for addressing ecological destruction by unfettered human use. For Desmond, use must be oriented beyond itself in thankfulness for the transcendent source of what is used and in self-transcending love towards a transcendent end beyond what is used. Though humans cannot help but use the natural world, a rich account of thankfulness and love provide a ground for human use that prevents anthropocentric abuse.


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How to Cite

Vanderleek, E. (2023). Between Thankfulness and Love: William Desmond’s Philosophy of Use for a Religious Ecological Ethic. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 17(1), 129–151.