The Natural Contract and other encounters with Serres

Our unique reactions to the same piece of writing can vary widely. If you've found your way here there is a reasonably high probability that you're interested in what Michel Serres has written and said. I think, however, that he would be less interested that you are interested in him, per se, and much more intrigued by the interplay of ideas that he has spun from the stock of his life and work.

I asked Randolph Burkes, a translator of Serres's work, about what aspects of The Natural Contract he found particularly engaging. Here's what he said:

"The Natural Contract was one of the first things I read by Serres, after the Descartes and Fontaine essay. Always interesting, if a bit short on practical steps to be taken. I particularly remember being struck by the scene with the lovers throwing the apple back and forth from boat to shore. Don't know if you've gotten that far yet. American environmental ethics was far ahead of Serres on this point, if lacking his elegance. See for instance, the legal arguments of Should Trees have Standing?, by Chrisopher Stone, from 1972."

A small fragment, an impression, a vignette amid a flow of images. At whatever point you may be reading this, I would welcome your reactions to something Serres has written. Our experiences of others fuels the conversations we are very much in need of. Perhaps these small eddies of thought can in turn inspire still others.

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