Response to review of Ontology and closeness in human-nature relationships: Beyond dualisms, materialism and posthumanism by Neil H. Kessler

  • Neil H. KesslerEmail author
Book Review

Gough’s (2019) review of my book, Ontology and Closeness in Human-Nature Relationships (Kessler 2019) appears in the July 2019 issue of this journal. It is generally not complimentary. Examination of it, however, reveals that it largely contains a multi-faceted, straw-man argument that does not hold up under scrutiny. As the book’s author, I feel compelled to challenge Gough’s arguments in this response.

Treatment of new materialism and Posthumanism

The first area of Gough’s critique worth examining is his response to my treatment of new materialism and posthumanism. For example, he claims that my close association of new materialism and posthumanist ontologies is a “questionable exaggeration.” As support for this assertion, he makes two subclaims. First, that many posthumanists, himself included, “express considerable skepticism about the merits of ‘new’ materialism” (p. 164). Second, and to illustrate the first, he notes that in an influential posthumanist volume by Snaza and Weaver (



  1. Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, J. (2010). A vitalist stopover on the way to a new materialism. In D. Coole & S. Frost (Eds.), New materialisms: Ontology, agency, and politics (pp. 47–69). Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Cudworth, E., & Hobden, S. (2015). Liberation for straw dogs? Old materialism, new materialism, and the challenge of an emancipatory posthumanism. Globalizations, 12(1), 134-148.Google Scholar
  4. Dolphijn, R., & Tuin, I. V. D. (2012). New materialism: Interviews & cartographies. Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ferrando, F. (2013). Posthumanism, transhumanism, antihumanism, metahumanism, and new materialisms. Existenz, 8(2), 26–32.Google Scholar
  6. Gough, A. (2015). Resisting becoming a glomus body within posthuman theorizing: Mondialisation and embodied agency in educational research. In N. J. Snaza & J. A. Weaver (Eds.), Posthumanism and educational research (pp. 181–195). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Gough, N. (2016). Postparadigmatic materialisms: A “new movement of thought” for outdoor environmental education research? Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 19(2), 51–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gough, N. (2019). Review of ontology and closeness in human-nature relationships: Beyond dualisms, materialism and posthumanism by Neil H. Kessler. Journal of outdoor and environmental education, 22(2), 163–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gough, N. (2004). RhizomANTically becoming‐cyborg: Performing posthuman pedagogies. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 36(3), 253-265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kessler, N.H. (2019). Ontology and closeness in human-nature relationships. AESS interdisciplinary environmental studies and sciences series. Cham: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Martin, P. (2007). Caring for the environment: Challenges from notions of caring. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 23, 57–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Pedersen, H. (2015). Educational policy making for social change: A posthumanist intervention. In N. J. Snaza & J. A. Weaver (Eds.), Posthumanism and educational research (pp. 70–89). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Snaza, N. J., & Weaver, J. A. (Eds.). (2015). Posthumanism and educational research. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Outdoor Education Australia 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations