Environment is essentially in the category of culture and environmental research should be based on human value and culture. The study of the relationship between humans and their natural environment should also refer to human relations. Since the operational logic of social capital is the root of ecological crisis, the ultimate solution to this problem lies in human’s correct thinking, institutional, political and behavioral patterns in dealing with nature. Re-establishing humanecology therefore provides a cultural (...) basis for the harmony between human and nature and realistic basis for the psycho-physical harmony and spiritualization of humans. (shrink)
Humanecology, it is argued, even when embracing recent developments in the natural sciences and granting a place to culture, tends to justify excessively pessimistic conclusions about the prospects for creating a sustainable world order. This is illustrated through a study of the work and assumptions of Richard Newbold Adams and Stephen Bunker. It is argued that embracing hierarchy theory as this has been proposed and elaborated by Herbert Simon, Howard Pattee, T.F.H. Allen and others enables human (...)ecology to conceive humans both as part of nature and as cultural beings in a way that gives due regard to the ethical development of humanity. That is, ethical constraints need no longer be conceived of as 'unnatural'. Characterizing the nature of such constraints, conceived of as emerging from the Hegelian 'struggle for recognition', this argument is shown to justify some optimism about the future, and to give some idea of how society should be organized if ethical constraints, able to constrain humanity’s relationship to the rest of nature, are to prevail. (shrink)
The most pressing problems facing humanity today - over-population, energy shortages, climate change, soil erosion, species extinctions, the risk of epidemic disease, the threat of warfare that could destroy all the hard-won gains of civilization, and even the recent fibrillations of the stock market - are all ecological or have a large ecological component. in this volume philosophers turn their attention to understanding the science of ecology and its huge implications for the human project. To get the application (...) of ecology to policy or other practical concerns right, humanity needs a clear and disinterested philosophical understanding of ecology which can help identify the practical lessons of science. Conversely, the urgent practical demands humanity faces today cannot help but direct scientific and philosophical investigation toward the basis of those ecological challenges that threaten human survival. This book will help to fuel the timely renaissance of interest in philosophy of ecology that is now occurring in the philosophical profession. Provides a bridge between philosophy and current scientific findings Covers theory and applications Encourages multi-disciplinary dialogue. (shrink)
Bringing together some of the most eminent thinkers in the field, this book celebrates the seminal contribution of Ted Benton to such pressing themes as: realism, naturalism and the philosophy of the social sciences, the continuing relevance of Marxism, philosophical anthropology and human needs, and ecology, society and natural limits.
Human concern over the urgency of current environmental issues increasingly entails wide-ranging discussions of how we may rethink the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world. In order to provide a context for such discussions this anthology provides a selection of some of the most important, interesting and influential readings on the subject from classical times through to the late nineteenth century. Included are such figures as Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Hildegard of Bingen, St Francis of Assisi, (...) Bacon, Decartes, Kant, Mill, Emerson and Thoreau. As the collection as a whole amply demonstrates, the history of western philosophical accounts of nature can help us to better understand current attitudes and problems. Human Life and the Natural World may also be of interest to a broad range of philosophers and students of philosophy, and more generally to those with a concern for the environment that engages the intellect as well as the heart. (shrink)
I consider the issue of the self and its relation to the environment, focusing on the accounts given in ecofeminism and deep ecology. Though both stress the relatedness of the human self to nature, these accounts differ in various ways. Ecofeminism stresses the value of personal relations with particular others, whereas deep ecology argues that we should expand our sense of self to include all natural others and the whole of nature. Deep ecology’s views on the (...) self, which are loosely based on scientific ecology, are examined further and I argue that the implications are that selves are not to be seen as static things but rather as processes, and as constituted by their relations with others. This understanding of the self, I argue, enriches both deep ecology and ecofeminism’s claims on selfhood, and will enable the resolution of some of the difficulties they perceive in each other’s account. (shrink)
What sets Naess's deep ecology apart from most inquiries into environmental philosophy is that it does not seek a radical shift in fundamental values. Naess offered a utopian, life-affirming grand narrative, a new Weltanschauung that shifted the focus of inquiry to coupling values, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to behavior. The core of Naess's approach is that sustainability hinges on developing more thoroughly reasoned and consistent views, policies, and actions, which are tied back to wide-identifying ultimate norms and a (...) rich, well-informed understanding of the state of the planet. But humans can have multiple ultimate norms and these norms sometimes conflict; our neurobiology may not be well-structured for accommodating consequences that are spatially and temporally separated and uncertain; we are governed by bounded rationality; much of human learning results from the passive modeling of unsustainable activities; and our cultures can be maladaptive, creating hurdles and perverse incentives/disincentives that likely demand more than consistent reasoning from wide-identifying ultimate premises. After keenly demonstrating how problem characterization and formulation shape both solution strategies and outcomes, Naess may conceptualize the process of change too narrowly. In the end, deep ecology helps us to shine a brighter searchlight on the gap between our attitudes and our generally unsustainable actions and policies. In doing so it expands the frontier of the unknown, opening more questions. This is its allure, frustration, and promise. (shrink)
In _Vibrant Matter_ the political theorist Jane Bennett, renowned for her work on nature, ethics, and affect, shifts her focus from the human experience of things to things themselves. Bennett argues that political theory needs to do a better job of recognizing the active participation of nonhuman forces in events. Toward that end, she theorizes a “vital materiality” that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman. Bennett explores how political analyses of public events might change were (...) we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as the_ _effect of ad hoc configurations of human and nonhuman forces. She suggests that recognizing that agency is distributed this way, and is not solely the province of humans, might spur the cultivation of a more responsible, ecologically sound politics: a politics less devoted to blaming and condemning individuals than to discerning the web of forces affecting situations and events. Bennett examines the political and theoretical implications of vital materialism through extended discussions of commonplace things and physical phenomena including stem cells, fish oils, electricity, metal, and trash. She reflects on the vital power of material formations such as landfills, which generate lively streams of chemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can transform brain chemistry and mood. Along the way, she engages with the concepts and claims of Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Darwin, Adorno, and Deleuze, disclosing a long history of thinking about vibrant matter in Western philosophy, including attempts by Kant, Bergson, and the embryologist Hans Driesch to name the “vital force” inherent in material forms. Bennett concludes by sketching the contours of a “green materialist” ecophilosophy. (shrink)
Ecology, Community and Lifestyle is a revised and expanded translation of Naess' book Okologi, Samfunn og Livsstil, which sets out the author's thinking on the relevance of philosophy to the problems of environmental degradation and the rethinking of the relationship between mankind and nature. The text has been thoroughly updated by Naess and revised and translated by David Rothenberg.
This essay examines and compares two paradigms of technology, nature, and social life, and their associated environmental impacts. I explore moving from technocratic paradigms to the emerging ecological paradigms of planetary person ecosophies. The dominant technocratic philosophy's guiding policy and technological power is mechanistic. It conceptualizes nature as a resource to be controlled for human ends. Its global practices are drastically altering the integrity of the planet's ecosystems. In contrast, the organic, planetary person approaches respect the intrinsic values (...) of all beings. Deep ecology movement principles give priority to community and ecosystem integrity. These deep ecology movement principles guide the design and applications of technology by principles following from ecological understanding. I describe this shift in philosophical paradigms and how it affects our perceptions, values, and actions. (shrink)
The philosophy of ecology addresses foundational conceptual and methodological issues in ecological science. Specifying these issues is complicated by the fact that there is disagreement among ecologists over how to identify the proper domain of ecology. Many ecologists prefer a more restrictive definition that focuses on properties of nonhuman organisms in natural environments. Others defend a more expansive definition that includes the study of human-environment relations, a view that challenges the traditional conception of ecology as (...) strictly a natural biological science. Consequently, one's understanding of the philosophy of ecology will depend in part on whether one endorses a more restrictive or more expansive conception of ecology. This article reviews issues in the philosophy of ecology in both its restrictive and expansive modes. In its restrictive mode, the philosophy of ecology addresses conceptual and methodological issues in population, community and ecosystem ecology. In its expansive mode, the philosophy of ecology also addresses foundational issues in the human ecological sciences, such as ecological economics and ecological psychology. In this expansive mode the line between ecology-the-science and ecology-the-philosophicalworldview becomes increasingly blurred, but a commitment to scientific methodology prevents ecology from becoming a mere mouthpiece for speculative or radical ecological philosophies. (shrink)
This introduction to the philosophy of the environment examines current debates on how we should think about the natural world and our place within it. The subject is examined from a determinedly analytic philosophical perspective, focusing on questions of value, but taking in attendant issues in epistemology and metaphysics as well. The book begins by considering the nature, extent and origin of the environmental problems with which we need to be concerned. Chapters go on to consider familiar strategies for (...) dealing with environmental problems, and then consider what sort of things are of direct moral concern, examining in turn at animals, non-sentient life-forms, natural but non-living things and deep ecology. The final part of the book investigates notions of value, natural beauty and the place of human beings in the scheme of things. (shrink)
- How can anthropology improve our understanding of the interrelationship between nature and culture? - What can anthropology contribute to practical debates which depend on particular definitions of nature, such as that concerning sustainable development? Humankind has evolved over several million years by living in and utilizing 'nature' and by assimilating it into 'culture'. Indeed, the technological and cultural advancement of the species has been widely acknowledged to rest upon human domination and control of nature. Yet, by the 1960s, (...) the idea of culture in confrontation with nature was being challenged by science, philosophy and the environmental movement. Anthropology is increasingly concerned with such issues as they become more urgent for humankind as a whole. This important book reviews the current state of the concepts of 'nature' we use, both as scientific devices and ideological constructs, and is organised around three themes: - nature as a cultural construction; - the cultural management of the environment; and - relations between plants, animals and humans. (shrink)
In our time, Ted Toadvine observes, the philosophical question of nature is almost entirely forgotten—obscured in part by a myopic focus on solving "environmental problems" without asking how these problems are framed. But an "environmental crisis," existing as it does in the human world of value and significance, is at heart a philosophical crisis. In this book, Toadvine demonstrates how Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology has a special power to address such a crisis—a philosophical power far better suited to the questions (...) than other modern approaches, with their over-reliance on assumptions drawn from the natural sciences. The book examines key moments in the development of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of nature while roughly following the historical sequence of his major works. Toadvine begins by setting out an ontology of nature proposed in Merleau-Ponty’s first book, _The Structure of Behavior. _He takes up the theme of the expressive role of reflection in _Phenomenology of Perception, _as it negotiates the area between nature’s own "self-unfolding" and human subjectivity. Merleau-Ponty’s notion of "intertwining" and his account of space provide a transition to Toadvine’s study of the philosopher’s later work—in which the concept of "chiasm," the crossing or intertwining of sense and the sensible, forms the key to Merleau-Ponty’s mature ontology—and ultimately to the relationship between humans and nature. (shrink)
Niklas Luhmann is widely recognized as one of the most original thinkers in the social sciences today. This major new work further develops the theories of the author by offering a challenging analysis of the relationship between society and the environment. Luhmann extends the concept of "ecology" to refer to any analysis that looks at connections between social systems and the surrounding environment. He traces the development of the notion of "environment" from the medieval idea--which encompasses both human (...) and natural systems--to our modern definition, which separates social systems from the external environment. In Luhmann's thought, human beings form part of the environment, while social systems consist only of communications. Utilizing this distinctive theoretical perspective, Luhmann presents a comprehensive catalog of society's reactions to environmental problems. He investigates the spheres of the economy, law, science, politics, religion, and education to show how these areas relate to environmental issues. Ecological Communication is an important work that critically examines claims central to our society--claims to modernity and rationality. It will be of great importance to scholars and students in sociology, political science, philosophy, anthropology, and law. (shrink)
Chinese environmentalists have called for an ecological civilization. To promote this, ecology is defended as the core science embodying process metaphysics,and it is argued that as such ecology can serve as the foundation of such a civilization. Integrating hierarchy theory and Peircian semiotics into this science,it is shown how “community” and “communities of communities,” in which communities are defined by their organization to promote the common good of theircomponents, have to be recognized as central concepts not only of (...)ecology, but of life itself. This perspective is used to defend Lovelock’s “Gaia” hypothesis and the call of Prugh, Costanza, and Daly for strong democracy. An ethics and political philosophy is sketched based on “eco-poiesis” or “home-making,” which is equated with augmenting the life of communities, both human and non-human. (shrink)
Nowadays the real threat has appeared: "thinking man" will disappear from the planet, and his place will be taken by "information consuming man." The rapidly evolving spiritually dependent consumer will turn into a completely controlled human being. A value orientation that we did not create will entirely determine all our choices and dominate our attention. Both the values and the products of mass culture are being spread among consumers as extensively as possible by mechanisms of culture manufacture, in accord (...) with the technological opportunities of the modern culture industry, connected in many ways with the mass media, and are being consumed on the same level as other products offered in the modern market. It becomes clear that the ecology of consciousness, along with the ecology of human life, is the most urgent and the most current problem of contemporary society.The main tasks of a global ecology of consciousness are to understand the conditional character of the external system of values and the radical reorientation that is appropriate to it; to create a culture of life as the realization of the original boundlessly disclosing free spirit, manifested in the encounter of man and world; and to return from captivity to imaginary things to life as dialogue with the world. First of all it is necessary to advance to a deep ecological understanding of the world—an understanding of nature, completed in the "noosphere," as the unique and perfect home of human consciousness. When a human being recognizes "the internal eco-crisis" and discovers the chaos and senselessness behind the imaginary clarity, he inevitably realizes the necessity for radical changes. His activity is initiated by the deepest satisfaction accompanying the expansion of the bounds of perception. We are speaking about the integral human being, personifying in himself both nature and civilization at the point of their intersection, removing the contradictions between the physical and the spiritual, between naturalness and technological progress. (shrink)
There was a time when ecological problems were of no interest to philosophy. Now, these issues have raised philosophical problems in several areas. In moral philosophy, one question is what moral obligations, if any, we have to future generations, and another is how far we have moral obligations relating to the treatment and the preservation of plants, animals and atmospheres. In political philosophy, the issue is the range of such concepts as rights and justice, and whether or (...) not they are limited to human relationships. As to the metaphysical question, we have to ask whether there is something about human beings which entitles us to consider them as being supernatural and whether we can think of Nature as an entity of which each human being constitutes a part. (shrink)
Between the body and the breathing earth : on the phenomenology of depth perception -- To praise again : phenomenology and the project of ecopsychology -- Postphenomenology and the lifeworld : interconnections, relationships, and environmental wholes : a phenomenological ecology of natural and built worlds.
A radical approach to the environment which argues that by harnessing the power of science for human benefit, we can have a healthier planet As a prizewinning theoretical physicist and an outspoken advocate for scientific literacy, James Trefil has long been the public's guide to a better understanding of the world. In this provocative book, Trefil looks squarely at our environmental future and finds-contrary to popular wisdom-reason to celebrate. For too long, Trefil argues, humans have treated nature as something (...) separate from themselves-pristine wilderness to be saved or material resources to be exploited. What we need instead is a scientific approach to the environment that embraces the human transformation of nature for our benefit. In Human Nature , Trefil exposes the benefits of genetically modified species, uncovers vital facts about droughts and global warming, and points to examples of environmental management where catering to humans reaps greater rewards than sheltering other species. By taking advantage of explosive advances in the sciences, we can fruitfully manage the planet, if we rise to the challenge. Like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, Human Nature promises to fundamentally alter the way we perceive our relationship to the Earth-but with optimism rather than alarm. (shrink)
A Jewish introduction to the human sciences -- Responsive thinking: cultural studies and Jewish historiography -- Seasons and lifetimes -- Toward an anthropology of the twentieth century -- Tropes of home -- A moment of danger, a taste of death -- Extinction and difference.
This article explores the influence of Spinozism on the deep ecology movement and on new materialism. It questions the stance of supporters of the DEM because their ecosophies unwittingly anthropomorphise the more-than-human-world. It suggests that instead of humanising the ‘natural’ world, morality should be naturalised, that is, that the object of human expression of ethics should be the more-than-human world. Moreover, the article discusses Deleuze’s Spinozism that informs new materialism and argues that stripping the human (...) of its ontological privilege does not deprive the human animal from its ethico-normative distinctiveness. Implications of the discussion for an education aimed at cultivating human sensibilities are explored. (shrink)
Since 1972, the journal Radical Philosophy has provided a forum for the discussion of radical and critical ideas in philosophy. This anthology reprints some of the best articles to have appeared in the journal during the past five years. It covers topics in social and moral philosophy which are central to current controversies on the left, focusing on theoretical issues raised by socialist, feminist, and environmental movements. The articles engage with contemporary issues in critical terms, and represent (...) the best of recent philosophical work on the left. (shrink)
I attempt to complement my earlier critiques of human sociobiology, by offering an account of how evolutionary ideas might legitimately be employed in the study of human social behavior. The main emphasis of the paper is the need to integrate studies of proximate mechanisms and their ontogenesis with functional/evolutionary research. Human psychological complexity makes it impossible to focus simply on specific types of human behavior and ask for their functional significance. For any of the kinds of (...) behavior patterns that have occupied human sociobiologists, the underlying proximate mechanisms are very likely to be linked to a broad spectrum of types of behavior, and we cannot expect that natural selection will have acted directly on any individual element from this spectrum. I illustrate this general point with a specific example, considering the traditional sociobiological account of human incest-avoidance and outlining an alternative approach to the phenomena. The example is intended to show the possibility of a more rigorous and sophisticated successor to human sociobiology, which I call "human behavioral ecology". (shrink)
This paper discusses problems associated with the use of optimality models in human behavioral ecology. Optimality models are used in both human and non-human animal behavioral ecology to test hypotheses about the conditions generating and maintaining behavioral strategies in populations via natural selection. The way optimality models are currently used in behavioral ecology faces significant problems, which are exacerbated by employing the so-called ‘phenotypic gambit’: that is, the bet that the psychological and inheritance mechanisms (...) responsible for behavioral strategies will be straightforward. I argue that each of several different possible ways we might interpret how optimality models are being used for humans face similar and additional problems. I suggest some ways in which human behavioral ecologists might adjust how they employ optimality models; in particular, I urge the abandonment of the phenotypic gambit in the human case. (shrink)
Manifesto: reoccupying the collective imagination -- Green cultural citizenship -- Negotiating green cultural citizenship -- Media as ideological ecosystems -- Evolving media ecosystems -- Gardening media ecosystems -- Towards mediating an earth democracy.