The Green Halo: A Bird'S-Eye View of Ecological Ethics

The Green Halo: A Bird'S-Eye View of Ecological Ethics

The Green Halo: A Bird'S-Eye View of Ecological Ethics

The Green Halo: A Bird'S-Eye View of Ecological Ethics


"The Green Halo is a readable introduction to the vast field of contemporary ecological thought. It is a basic education in environmental philosophy and a welcome propaedeutic for understanding the most crucial problem facing humankind in the coming century: How can humans live on this Earth so that they do not destroy the preconditions for their own existence?"--BOOK JACKET. Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Here is perhaps the most remarkable of the several introductions to environmental ethics now available in a growing literature—remarkable both for the unusual career of its author and for the multi-dimensional nature of the work. Erazim Kohák is Czech; this book was first published in Czech. That thought alone—a Czech ecological philosopher—awakes interest.

But that is only the start. Driven from his native land, Kohák taught in the United States for a generation, eminently at Boston University, distinguished again both by his lifestyle and his work, living in a one-room rural home, without electricity, seeking firsthand experience of nature (“the beavers and porcupines”), and teaching in one of the country's most sophisticated universities. When, with the collapse of the Soviet regime, return to his native land became possible, he joined the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University in Prague. His teaching there demanded for Czech students this introduction to ecological ethics—as he prefers to call this rather remarkable turn philosophy has taken in the last quarter century.

Kohák's life in such provocative environments has challenged his native gifts, and the product is this seminal book. This is a survey of the field, as he intends; but no ordinary introduction, and that is the reason for an English edition. This overview is distinctively comprehensive, and with fresh perspectives. He is able to combine theory and practice most effectively. On every page he joins multiple tensions in the field, often finding complementary insights: the contemporary and the historical, facts and values, the is and the ought, reason and emotion, the real and the ideal, ethics and metaphysics, the subjective and the objective. He joins the natural and the cultural, the planetary and the locally particular, the individual and the corporate, the economic and the political, the scientific and the ethical, the philosophical and the religious, the secular and the sacred.

His life in multiple worlds gives him resources lacking to other environmental philosophers. He knows the naturalists as well as the philosophers. He knows American philosophy with as much facility as European philosophy. In Europe he knows not only British and Western European sources, analytic and continental philosophy; he draws readily from scholars and original sources in Central and Eastern Europe, both those challenging as well as those once within the former Soviet ideology. He knows both affluence and simplicity, illusory wealth and genuine riches; he separates wheat from chaff as he sifts his sources, and couples these insights of others with his personal experience.

Again and again, he starts with a contemporary problem, one that might . . .

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