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Lecture 7

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Ingrid L.Stefanovic

PHL273 Monday October 31 , 2011 Lecture 7 Deep Ecology The Roots of Deep Ecology • Inspiration from Taoism, Heracleitus, Spinoza, Whitehead, Gandhi, Buddhism, Native American cultures, Thomas Jefferson, Thoreau and Woody Guthrie Taoism – emphasises compassion, moderation and humility; focuses on human correspondence Heracleitus – western pre-Socratic philosopher; emphasis that there was no being but just becoming – life was a process of change and all things are flowing (you can’t step into the same river twice); Spinoza – manifested himself in the natural world; God is not transcendent, but is within the world we occupy and through the earth in the way in which it expresses itself Whitehead – processed philosopher; emphasises that it is wrong to assign value to some static truth Gandhi – a pacifist; deep ecology comes mostly from a pacifist view Buddhism - will discuss this later on in the lecture Native American Cultures – aboriginal cultures; respect of the earth as a source, as mother; respect of the initial giving-ness of what the earth gives us Thomas Jefferson – a US president; notion of sustainable farming Thoreau – poet, writer of the natural world Woody Guthrie – folk singer *These names explain where deep ecology comes from* Calls for a Radical Paradigm Change A paradigm is something that is so immediate and so deeply defining who we are, to suggest there is a paradigm shift means there is a change in the language we’re going to use – throws everything off and changes our way of thinking. Deep ecology is aiming for a paradigm shift means there is going to be a radical change in thinking of ecology and human beings as well as the way we perceive the environment. We need to encompass a wider and deeper ecological perspective and rethink the place of humanity in this world. Arnes Naess: ECOSOPHY “By an ecosophy I mean a philosophy of ecological harmony or equilibrium” PHL273 Monday October 31 , 2011t Lecture 7 • The details of an ecosophy will show many variations due to significant differences concerning not only the “facts” of pollution, resources, population, etc, but also value priorities In General... A “relational, total-field” perspective, rejecting the “man-in-environment” image in favour of a holistic, comprehensive and non-anthropocentric understanding Metaphysical ecology recognizes the limits of individualism and reductionism (which ecology does not encompass) • Individualism – you are assigning value to individual entities one by one o Deep ecology does not talk about assigning moral value to individual human beings or animals  Always refer to holistic meaning • Reductionism- you take a large complex problem, and in order to understand it, you reduce this whole into its component parts to make it more accessible to scientific methods Metaphysical Holism • Denies separateness of humans from nature • See “self” and “self:” Ecosophy...has only one ultimate norm: “Self Realization!” (Naess) o Comes from Buddhism o Our identity is defined in terms of the world as Self A Blurring of Reductionist Boundaries • Similarly, denies the separation of facts and values; rationality and intuition or emotion; science and philosophy o • Ethics emerges from metaphysics and epistemology, overlapping sometimes THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES (as developed by Arne Naess and George Sessions) 1. The flourishing of human and nonhuman life on earth has intrinsic value. The value of nonhuman life-forms is independent of the usefulness these may have for narrow human purposes • Does not have instrumental value • Instrumental Value – the value of its usefulness to an individual (serves a purpose) • Intrinsic value – presence of inherent value in a natural object is independent of any awareness, interest, or appreciation of it by any conscious being 2. Richness and diversity or life-forms are values in themselves and contribute to the flourishing of human and nonhuman life on earth. • Are not merely steps to higher or rational life forms • Plants matter PHL273 Monday October 31 , 2011t Lecture 7 3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs • Vital need is left vague • Is a vital need electric lights? Is water a vital need? • Its circumstantial • Water, air is a vital need • What constitutes a vital need? • Something that is central to survival (this is centered towards human) • As we live, we have no right to reduce this richness except to the use of viable needs 4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening. • It will take time to make environmental changes but the longer we wait the harder and more difficult it will be to make the changes 5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease. • This formulation is mild • Slogan of non-interference does not mean that humans cannot modify areas of the environment • Get fewer of us on the earth so that we can consume less 6. Significant change of life conditions for the better require change in policies. These affect basic economic, technological and ideological structures. • Economic g
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