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Ted Toadvine

by rjp218 Sep 01, 2020
Ted Toadvine

Nancy Tuana Director of the Rock Ethics Institute

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Department of Philosophy

College of the Liberal Arts

127 Sparks Building
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 867-0471


  1. PhD, Philosophy The University of Memphis
  2. MA, Philosophy, The University of Memphis
  3. BA, Philosophy, Salisbury University


Ted Toadvine is Nancy Tuana Director of the Rock Ethics Institute and Associate Professor of Philosophy. He joined Penn State in 2017 after holding the position of Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, where he served as Head of Philosophy in 2011-2014. He has held the posts of Visiting Researcher at Kingston University’s Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Resident Scholar at the University of Oregon’s Wayne Morse Center for Law & Politics, Visiting Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, Robert F. and Evelyn Nelson Wulf Professor in the Humanities at the Oregon Humanities Center, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Kalamazoo College, and William F. Dietrich Research Fellow in Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University.

Toadvine’s research over the last two decades has focused on the themes of aesthetics, animality, embodiment, environment, intersubjectivity, nature, ontology, philosophical method, and temporality. He draws inspiration from the phenomenological tradition (especially Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas) as well as deconstruction and post-structuralism (especially Derrida, Nancy, and Deleuze). In 2003, he coined the term “ecophenomenology” to designate an approach to environmental theory that draws on the phenomenological tradition while critically reorienting its relationship with ecology and naturalism. Ecophenomenology is now a recognized field of study across the environmental humanities with proponents in ecocriticism, the arts, architecture, and animal studies, as well as philosophy.

His research over the last decade develops a post-naturalistic approach to nature inspired by classic and contemporary sources in the continental tradition, including Bergson, Husserl, Heidegger, Scheler, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Derrida, Deleuze, Nancy, and Agamben. His first monograph, Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy of Nature (Northwestern, 2009), contributes to the theoretical foundations of this new philosophy of nature by showing that Merleau-Ponty's conception of nature, as it develops across his major theoretical works, provides an alternative to naturalistic and constructivist accounts that dominate current environmental theory. Here Toadvine examines the contributions and limitations of Merleau-Ponty’s early Gestalt ontology, his account of radical reflection as a method for disclosing the anonymous level of sensibility and the immemorial past of nature, the radicalization of phenomenology’s investigations of non-human animals, and the significance of his later ontology for environmental concerns. This study lays the philosophical foundations for Toadvine’s original investigations in the philosophy of nature on topics that include nature’s resistance to reflection, the human-animal relation, the temporality of the elements, and biodiacritics.

Throughout his career, Toadvine has partnered with scholars and practitioners in other fields---including biologists, artists, architects, literary scholars, and activists---on such topics as climate ethics, food sovereignty, environmental justice, restoration ecology, biodiversity conservation, and environmental art and design. Through these collaborations, he has explored the role of philosophy and the humanities in interdisciplinary research and public engagement.

Toadvine is editor or translator of six books, including The Merleau-Ponty Reader (Northwestern, 2007), and Nature’s Edge: Boundary Explorations in Ecological Theory and Practice (SUNY, 2007). He has published more than fifty refereed journal articles and book chapters in such venues as Alter. Revue de phénoménologie, Environmental Ethics, Ethics, Policy & Environment, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, Husserl Studies, Investigaciones Fenomenológicas, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Klēsis: Revue Philosophique, Research in Phenomenology, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, and Tijdschrift voor FilosofieHis essays have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Toadvine co-directs the Contributions to Phenomenology Series at Springer Publishing, is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Environmental Philosophy, and co-editor of Chiasmi International: Trilingual Studies Concerning the Thought of Merleau-Ponty. He directed the 2017 issue of Chiasmi International, Thinking the Outside: Politics, Aesthetics, Ontology, and its 2013 issue, Existence, Diacritics, Animality. He also guest-edited the 2012 special 50th anniversary issue of The Southern Journal of Philosophy on the theme Continental Philosophy: What and Where Will It Be?

Toadvine is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology, Inc. and the International Merleau-Ponty Circle, and is a member of the Scientific Board of the Central European Institute of Philosophy (Středoevropský Institut Pro Filosofii). He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Environmental Philosophy and served as the organization's Secretary in 2006-2008. He serves on a number of editorial and advisory boards, including those for Environmental Ethics, Environmental Humanities, and PAN: Philosophy Activism Nature.

At Penn State, Toadvine is co-advisor of the Eco Action student organization and an affiliated faculty member of the Social Thought Program. He serves on the Advisory Council for Continued Excellence, the Institutional Conflict of Interest Committee, the Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI) Advisory Group, and the Coordinating Council of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment.

Toadvine’s current research explores the philosophical and ethical significance of deep time, the eschatological imaginary of environmentalism, the relation between geomateriality and memory, and biodiacritics. He is currently completing a monograph, The End of All Things: Eschatology and the Elements.