The land as a social being: Ethical implications from societal expectations [Book Review]

Agriculture and Human Values 7 (1):33-38 (1990)
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The question to be answered is why do different cultures respond to the land differently? The question is born in the tension between Native American and the Anglo macroculture valuing of the land. Using the philosophy of George Herbert Mead, it is argued that the land is seen as a social being ,in the same way that an individual sees another person. Mead's philosophy of the development of the individual begins with the relation of the developing self and a social other. That relationship defines acts acceptable within the society, including the acts of observation and reflective thought. Thus, the very process of development becomes bound by the society. As the individual grows, according to Mead, the social other (and the relation between the other and the self) become generalized to include objects of the environment, such as the land. The acts toward others now become acts toward the land. As the acts toward others have value within the society, so the acts toward the land take on the same values. The individual mind is never an exact duplicate of the culture, but is limited by the culture, which results in specific tensions as two cultures come together. Again, using Mead, it is shown that the morality of our response to the land is dependent upon the growth of the individual, and that that growth can be provided by the very conflict of the acculturation



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