In defense of Dominion

Environmental Ethics 14 (1):63-80 (1992)
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Abstract

The biblical notion of dominion has often been cited as the source and sanction for Western attitudes of environmental disregard. An analysis of the Genesis passage in which dominion (radah) is mentioned reveals a curious misreading of the text: dominion is actually an ideal of human-divine intimacy and peacefulness-as one ought to expect in a paradise creation story. I analyze Genesis dominion not only as areligious concept, but also as a philosophical notion manifesting the Hebrew self-understanding of its contemporary experience with the natural world. Being a verb, radah is also an action concept that connotes an ethic of environmental responsibility. Dominion authorizes a philosophical critique of Western attitudes and practices of environmental exploitation. I defend it here as an intentional expression of the Western religious consciousness that could, if it were understood as an ideal of responsible action rather than as an authorization for callous disregard of the natural world, actually promote interreligious dialogue on environmental issues

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