Humanity in the Web of Life

Environmental Ethics 28 (2):185-200 (2006)
Abstract
The humanity-nature divide is a modern Western construction based on the notion that matter (nature) is dead, while consciousness (humanity) is alive, rational, and positioned to use matter (nature) to achieve its ends. In contrast, in the world views of the indigenous Maμori of New Zealand and Aborigines of Australia, nature is not separate from humanity and all is infused with consciousness. The ecofeminist and Goddess movements which emerged in the last decades of the twentieth-century, share with many indigenous religions the perception that all of nature is alive and that human beings must respect other beings within the web of life. Yet these are postmodern rather than premodern movements with an explicit critique of the assumptions of modernity. Process philosophy, especially when understood through the “feminist process paradigm” proposed here, is a postmodern philosophical system that affirms the insights of indigenous peoples, as well as Goddess and ecofeminists, that humanity must situate itself within the web of life. At the same time, process philosophy provides the tools for reconciling “premodern” insights with the findings (but not the assumptions) of modern science. Each of these resources can help us to provide alternatives to the humanity-nature divide
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