Most of my published work concerns ecology (personal, political, ethical and spiritual as well as natural), divination (examined historically and philosophically), and the work of J.R.R. Tolkien (cultural criticism). I'll divide up papers and articles accordingly.
Deep Roots in a Time of Frost: Essays on Tolkien
Walking Tree Books, 2014
In this collection of essays written over three decades, I explore two themes in Tolkien's great work: enchantment, the Elves and Faërie, and the natural world of Middle-earth. I consider their different effects on both readers and literary critics, and try to bring to light the deep connections between these two subjects, as well as between them and Tolkien’s ultimate concern, ‘Death and the desire for deathlessness.’ Also illuminated, in contrast, is magic, as epitomised by the One Ring. Finally, I argue that the hobbits are exemplars of how to live in relation to enchantment: neither pursuing, nor avoiding, but honouring it.
Ecological Ethics: An Introduction
Polity Press, 2011
This book was first published in 2006. It was meant not only for academics but anyone, including activists, who wants to understand ecological/ environmental ethics better. Unlike nearly all other such books, its starting-point was that all value ultimately inheres not just in human beings but in the Earth itself and all its creatures.
In this revised, updated and expanded new edition, I argue that a new and truly ecological ethic is both possible and urgently needed. With this point in mind, the book introduces and discusses all the major concepts needed to understand the full range of ecological ethics.
Light green or anthropocentric ethics with the examples of stewardship, lifeboat ethics and social ecology; the mid-green or intermediate ethics of animal liberation/rights; and dark or deep green ecocentric ethics are all discussed. Of the last kind, particular attention is given to the Land Ethic, the Gaia Hypothesis, and Deep Ecology and its offshoots: Deep Green Theory, Left Biocentrism and the Earth Manifesto. The new edition emphasises the importance of virtue ethics and its close relationship with ecocentrism. Other chapters discuss ecofeminism, green citizenship, green ethics as post-secular, moral pluralism and pragmatism, and human population in the light of ecological ethics.
In this edition, all chapters have been updated and are joined by new discussions, from an ecocentric perspective, of climate change, wind power and energy, capitalism, sustainable economies, green education, traditional ecological knowledge, the treatment of animals as an ecocentric issue, vegetarianism, the food system, Buddhism, and animism as integral to a green virtue ethic.
This comprehensive and wide-ranging textbook offers a radical but critical introduction to the subject which puts ecocentrism and the critique of anthropocentrism back at the top of the ethical, intellectual and political agenda. It will be of great interest to students and activists, and to a wider public.
For more information, please see www.politybooks.com/book.asp?ref=0745651259 and for a recent review, see blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2012/07/17/book-review-ecological-ethics/
Divination is any ritual and its associated tradition performed in order to ask a more-than-human intelligence for guidance. A universal human practice, it has received surprisingly little academic attention. This interdisciplinary collection by leading scholars in the field is dedicated to fascinating new insights into divination and oracles arising from recent work in anthropology, religious studies, history and classical studies. Central importance is given to the practical and theoretical perspectives of diviners as well as scholars of divination; several contributors are both. This book explores philosophical issues such as the nature of divinatory intelligence, the relationship between divinatory and metaphorical truth, the primacy of ontology over epistemology, the importance of reflexivity in scholarly studies of divination, and astrology as the principal Western form of divination. The ethnographic and historical examples range from contemporary Nigeria, urban Cuba, Mayan Guatemala and the shamanic cultures of the circumpolar Arctic to classical Greece and ancient Judea.
Contents: Introduction (Patrick Curry); Theorizing divinatory acts: the integrative discourse of dream oracles (Barbara Tedlock); 'Twinning' and 'perfect knowledge' in African systems of divination (Philip M. Peek); Memoir as method or 'What the devil was I up to anyway?' (Laura Grillo); Central Asian and Northern European shamanism (Juha Pentikäinen); The carbon footprint of oracles: how green is divination? (Stuart R. Harrop); Embodiment, alterity and agency in divination: negotiating antinomies in divination (Patrick Curry); Chicane: double-thinking and divination among the witch-doctors (Geoffrey Cornelius); Darwin's fortune, Jonah's shipmates, and the persistence of chance (Evan Heimlich); Arrows, aiming and divination: astrology as a stochastic art (Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum); Life between lives therapy: a mystery ritual for modern times? (Angela Voss); Talking and walking with spirits: fresh perspectives on a medieval necromantic system (Paul Devereux); Clarifying divinatory dialogue: a proposal for a distinction between practitioner divination and essential divination (Anthony Thorley, Chantal Allison, Petra Stapp and John Wadsworth); Afterword: of ises and oughts: an endnote on divinatory obligation (Martin Holbraad).
Seeing with Different Eyes: Essays on Astrology and Divination
This collection arose out of a conference at the University of Kent in 2006. It covers a lot of its sort of ground. You can see my Introduction, which describes the papers and puts them in context, in the "Papers" section of this website.
Sky and Psyche: The Relationship between Cosmos and Consciousness
Co-editor with Nicholas Campion (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2006)
And this one comes out of Sophia conferences in 2005. There are papers by James Hillman, Richard Tarnas and Liz Greene, among others.
Ecological Ethics: The First Edition
(Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006)
This book is meant not just for academics but anyone, including activists, who wants to understand ecological/ environmental ethics better. Unlike nearly all other such books, its starting-point is that all value ultimately inheres not just in human beings but in the Earth itself and all its creatures. The subject is probably as important as it gets, so I’ve tried to write clearly (and refrain from shouting). A revised edition is due in 2010.
Astrology, Science and Culture: Pulling Down the Moon
Co-author with Roy Willis, (Oxford: Berg, 2004)
Another academic work. In chapters four through nine, I think through astrology as (essentially) divination and consider different kinds of astrology in that light as well as divination as such, enchantment/ disenchantment, and the arguments between astrology and both religion and science. Strongly influenced by Max Weber and his intellectual heirs.
Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien, Myth & Modernity
(New York: St Martin’s Press, Edinburgh: Floris, 1997 and London: HarperCollins, 1998); re-issued with a new Afterword (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004)
I’m proud of this little book. It is an exploration and unashamed defence of Middle-earth, and of Tolkien. My intention was to try to understand his enduring appeal to millions of readers’ hopes and fears, principally in relation to culture and community (the Shire), nature (Middle-earth itself), and spiritual values (the Sea).
Machiavelli for Beginners, republished as Introducing Machiavelli
(Cambridge: Icon, 1995)
Just what it says on the tin. Some of the references have dated a bit but Machiavelli’s wisdom and relevance has not. He is a much misunderstood and unfairly maligned thinker, so I hope this introduction might dispel some of that reputation (and in particular, put The Prince into the context it needs).
A Confusion of Prophets: Victorian and Edwardian Astrology
(London: Collins & Brown, 1992)
This one is more accessible. It’s a series of chapters on each of the astrologers – beginning with John Varley and ending with Alan Leo – in Victorian and Edwardian London. They make a colourful cast!
Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England
(Oxford: Polity Press and Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989)
An account of English astrology in its heyday (immediately prior to and during the English Civil War) and subsequent decline (from the Restoration through to the end of the eighteenth century). Its emphasis is cultural, social and political. This is an academic book.
Astrology, Science and SocietyEditor (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1987)
An interesting and (if I may say so) pioneering collection of papers on the history of astrology from a conference I organised at the Warburg Institute in 1984. Rare as hen’s teeth now; you almost certainly won’t find a copy outside a library.