New rules for the waves Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-012-9658-1 Authors Freya Mathews, Environmental Culture and Sustainability Research Cluster, Latrobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3086, Australia Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
I argue that a metaphysical controversy, comparable with the ‘pantheism controversy’ of the late 18th century, is being played out today in the world-wide clash between religion and science, in which one side adheres to a strict materialism and the other admits phenomena of inspiritment as having a place in ontology. Just as the pantheism controversy was resolved, to some degree, via the concept of panentheism, so the solution to the contest between science and religion today might be pointing us (...) in a panentheist direction. Taking into account (a) the empirical evidence of science, (b) the widespread evidence of spirit phenomena from different religions and spirit traditions, and (c) that the experience of spirit phenomena varies according to cultural frame of reference, I conclude that spirit phenomena must emanate from something that is common across cultures. The only thing that could be common across cultures is matter: it must be matter itself then that is imbued with spirit. While this position has affinities with panentheism, I argue that ‘panentheism’ is not in fact an appropriate name for it in the 21st century, as this name excludes the experience of many cultures for whom phenomena of inspiritment are not describable in any kind of theistic terms. (shrink)
What is nature, and how are we to live with it rather than against it, as ecophilosophers enjoin? My own understanding of nature and of our proper relation to it is ultimately traceable to a metaphysics that could be broadly described as panpsychist, in that it attributes an internal principle, or subjectival dimension, to matter generally. I have explored such a metaphysic elsewhere, and do not propose..
: How we understand the world (our metaphysical premise) determines, to a large degree, how we treat it. How we treat our world constitutes our basic modality. Our basic modality colors everything we do—our entire culture takes its cue from it. Three basic modalities are here distinguished. The first is the modality of pre-materialist or traditional, religion-based societies. This is a modality of importuning, the seeking of assistance from supernatural sources. The second is the modality of materialist or modern, secular (...) societies. This is a modality of instrumentalism, involving mastery, control, and a will to re-make the world in accordance with human ends. The third is the modality of prospective post-materialist societies. These societies would be post-religious but not post-spiritual. Their modality would be one of letting the world unfold according to its own nature, and, by extension, finding creative synergies between human and nonhuman conativities. This modality of synergy is explicated by reference to the Daoist notion of wu wei. (shrink)
What is the optimal political framework for environmental reform reform on a scale commensurate with the global ecological crisis? In particular, how adequate are liberal forms of parliamentary democracy to the challenge posed by this crisis? These are the questions pondered by the contributors to this volume. Exploration of the possibilities of democracy gives rise to certain common themes. These are the relation between ecological morality and political structures or procedures and the question of the structure of decision-making and distribution (...) of information in political systems. The idea of 'democracy without traditional boundaries' is discussed as a key both to environmentalism in an age of global ecology and to the revitalisation of democracy itself in a world of increasingly protean constituencies and mutable boundaries. (shrink)
The honeybee, Apis mellifera, has excited both literary and scientific interest since ancient times, and even modern entomological investigation has not entirely dispelled the mystery surrounding the corporate intelligence of the beehive. Yet this lingering mystique has not prevented the wholesale exploitation of the honeybee as pollinator of choice in present-day industrial agriculture. In the context of this industrialization of the apiary, honeybees around the world are succumbing to the condition known as “colony collapse disorder.” The consequent disappearance of honeybees (...) on a massive scale poses the question, what do honeybees mean to us? Is their loss a moral loss, and if so, is it merely a moral loss, or something more? Does the loss of honeybees portend further losses that will amount to the loss of the basic conditions for meaning, and hence for morality, per se? (shrink)
This paper defends freya mora's attempt ("philosophy", Volume 58, Number 225) to alleviate the problem of evil--Arguing that happiness requires love, Whose object must be perishable--Against susan lowe's criticism (volume 60, Number 232) that this makes it impossible to love god, A price theists might find too high. Mora's argument can be salvaged by substituting for 'perishable', Words (like 'vulnerable') that are applicable to an omnipotent and eternal being, But still fit her analysis of love.
Nature in its wider cosmic sense is not at risk from human exploitation and predation. To see life on Earth as but a local manifestation of this wider, indestructable and inexhaustible nature is to shield ourselves from despair over the fate of our Earth. But to take this wide view also appears to make interventionist political action on behalf of nature-which is to say, conservation-superfluous. If we identify with nature in its widest sense, as deep ecology prescribes, then the “self-defence” (...) argument usually advanced by deep ecologists in support of conservation appears not to work. I argue that the need for eco-activism can be reconciled with a rejection of despair within the framework of deep ecology, and that in the process of this reconciliation the meaning of the term conservation acquires a new, spiritual dimension. (shrink)
The heart is a huge old barnacled whale, Vastly outsize and cumbersome, Encased in a mountain of deadweight flesh, Lugubrious, peering out of her carnal tomb with little wrinkled eye, Unable to encompass her own immensity. Yet this great gravid tender yearning creature lies Undetected, invisible, under the waters of appearance.
Is philosophy an appropriate means for inducing the 'moral point of view' with respect to nature? The moral point of view involves a feeling for the inner reality of others, a feeling which, it is argued, is induced more by processes of synergistic interaction than by the kind of rational deliberation that classically constituted philosophy. But how are we to engage synergistically with other-than-human life forms and systems? While synergy with animals presents no in-principle difficulty, synergy with larger life systems (...) takes us into epistemological realms explored only in the margins of the Western tradition, such as in Goethe's Romantic alternative to science. These 'alternative' epistemological realms are however the very province of the Daoist arts of China, and these arts accordingly furnish us with practices conducive to a moral consciousness of nature. (shrink)