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Lecture 3

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University of Toronto St. George
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

PHL273 Monday September 26 , 2011th Lecture 3 The Historical Roots of Anthropocentrism The History of Western Thought as progression from: Cosmological • Belief in the Greek Gods that drove philosophy To Theological • In the middle ages To Anthropocentric To Eco-Centric? • Are we moving towards an eco-centric prospective Roots in Plato’s Cosmological Metaphysic: Vision of a human soul The allegory of the cave is a great illustration what Lynn White thinks is the problem in western metaphysics. The allegory of the cave is symbolic of the human condition. There are prisoner’s locked in this cave who can’t see much around them. All the prisoner’s can see are shadows on the wall that are a reflection of puppets from behind them. Recognize that these things we think are real are just shadows. Try to understand the grounds and the foundations of this shadow making. The cave example becomes a very famous allegory and one which ultimately starts to separate two forms of reality: 1) that is changing every day, and, 2) one that reflects the eternal. A kind of polarity starts to emerge of what is in terms of eternal sense and what is in terms of reality. Lynn White Since both our technological and our scientific movements got their the Middle Ages, it would seem that we cannot understand their nature of their present impact upon ecology without examining fundamental medieval assumptions and developments. Natural Law as a guide to moral action Super-Moral or Theological Virtues and Rules • God know what is right • God is infinite and eternal • God is who knows what the good is ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE MORAL LIFE Moral Virtues and Rules (Proportioned to Human Life) • It is up to human beings to start and try to figure out what the right thing to do it; where ethics come into play • Comes from a divine creator that is transcendent Lynn white says that the problem with our environmental attitudes today is that we have inherited from this Western view, that there is a reality beyond the reality we live in today and that is the ultimate reality PHL273 Monday September 26 , 2011th Lecture 3 • This is the root of the environmental crisis • God becomes a transcendent entity but there is a separation between this transcendent entity and the earth that we live on today • Lynn White says this is a peculiar notion to Western Society • It’s Christianity that is the problem because it was rooted in the notion of separation Imago Dei: Man Made in God’s Image • In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...God said, “Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves o The roots of anthropocentrism o Humans were going to be made in the image of God o The earth was made for us because we’re a reflection of the divine Implicit Dualism of Humans and Nature, with Humans above... • We are there in the presence of a supernatural wisdom that gives itself...A wisdom of salvation, a wisdom of saintliness, it is not man who wins it, it is God who gives it; it is not from an upward movement of a creature, it is from a downward movement of the creating Spirit that it proceeds – Jacques Maritain • God planned this hierarchy to serve man’s purpose o “God blessed them, saying to them ‘Be fruitful and multiply...Be masters of...all...on the earth...”  This is what the Bible tells us to; we are told to populate the earth and multiply  No wonder we have environmental issues • Man masters over the animals o “...and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth...”  There is hierarchy that comes from the Christian religion  We are masters of animals and also of plants o “Then God said, “I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”” Women of Secondary Importance • “Having eaten of the tree that God forbade them to eat, God said to the woman: ‘I will multiply your pains in childbearing, you shall give birth to your
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