The Ecological Self

The Ecological Self

The Ecological Self

The Ecological Self

Synopsis

This is the first book-length treatment of the metaphysical foundations of ecological ethics. The author seeks to provide a metaphysical illumination of the fundamental ecological intuitions that we are in some sense 'one with' nature and that everything is connected with everything else. Drawing on contemporary cosmology, systems theory and the history of philosophy, Freya Mathews elaborates a new metaphysics of 'interconnectedness'. She offers an inspiring vision of the spiritual implications of ecology, which leads to a deepening of our conception of conservation.

Excerpt

This book began life a long time ago, in the mid-seventies, when, as a graduate student in London, I discovered twentieth-century physics, and was immediately galvanized by its philosophical implications. I remember delivering a paper entitled 'Persons from the viewpoint of a unified field theory' to a rather stunned philosophy seminar at Bedford College. the whole question of a new emerging paradigm and the ideological implications of physical theories was not at that time on the philosophical agenda, and my paper, my first step in what was to prove a long intellectual journey, was greeted with polite incredulity.

This book to a certain extent recapitulates that journey. Central to its entire argument is the thought of Benedict Spinoza, of which I have been a student and by which I have been enriched from my earliest philosophical days. It was Spinoza above all who demonstrated the link between metaphysics and ethics, and for whom the whole point and goal of metaphysics was moral and spiritual edification. the very structure of his masterpiece, the Ethics, is illustrative of the view that ethics must be grounded in metaphysics. Such a view is of course deeply alien to contemporary philosophical thought, which sees questions of metaphysics and cosmology as generally belonging to the realm of fact, and thereby quite divorced from questions of value. I was never persuaded of this divorce. It always seemed plain to me, intuitively, that the way we conceived of reality and of our place in the scheme of things was central to questions about the meaning and the ends of life. Cosmology was the basis of our worldview, but our worldview was informed with value. This view, so spurned throughout most of the twentieth century, has, since the early eighties, been beginning to gain ground again. Everybody is now talking about 'the new paradigm', and they don't mean

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