E-Seminar: Learning to Dwell

E-Seminar: Learning to Dwell

E-seminar in Philosophy
by Jaco Kruger
From 17th April to 12th June 2023

Course code: SEM84

Professor: Dr. Jaco Kruger


The fundamental thesis underlying this seminar is that there exists a kind of fittingness – even stronger, an affinity – between philosophy and ecology that invites us to think of these two disciplines together and in relation. Philosophy is occupied with the “big questions” of life and existence; its approach is often speculative and generalizing. Philosophy is the ongoing attempt to see the biggest picture, and to integrate all of experience into such a big picture. In this sense the Greek root word from which the word ecology stems is very appropriate: oikos – the house, the household, the dwelling place. Philosophy is about “learning to dwell,” to use a formulation of Martin Heidegger. What does it mean to be at home in the world? How should humans be at home in the world? And how should we live in our common home? Ecology, for its part, has since the middle of the 20th century as a discipline moved closer and closer to the life sciences and the natural sciences. But the fundamental philosophical presuppositions of ecology remain an open question. And the environmental catastrophe that is slowly unfolding in the 21st century affirms the intuition that the worldviews and philosophical presuppositions of the late-capitalist world must urgently be revisited. Making use of resources from process philosophy and from the work of Martin Heidegger, this seminar contributes to the discussion surrounding the characteristics of an integral ecology (Laudato Sí) by attempting an ecological introduction to philosophy.


  • To introduce philosophy as the human search for a home in the world
  • To highlight the philosophical roots of the current ecological crisis
  • To contribute to the philosophical foundations of integral ecology as called for in the papal encyclical, Laudato Sí

Learning Outcomes 


  • An understanding of the “bifurcation of nature” that happened in the Modern epoch
  • A basic knowledge of process philosophy’s vision of the interrelatedness of all beings
  • A sensitivity for humanities existence as part of nature while having unique gifts and responsibilities


  • Be able to elaborate on the human condition as a continuous learning to dwell.
  • Be able to criticize the excesses of technology that stem from an instrumental and utilitarian rationality
  • Be able to situate the relation between philosophy and ecology within the broad framework of the search for an integral ecology

Evaluation Methods

A contribution of approx. 4000 characters, including spaces, for each step

Participation in the debate during the second week (quality over quantity)


  1. Wandering in the world: the human condition
  2. Prometheus and the ambiguous gifts of science and technology
  3. In the houses of becoming
  4. Learning to dwell