Philosophy Gone Wild: Environmental Ethics

By Holmes Rolston III | Go to book overview

12
Meditation at the Precambrian Contact

The walk in has carried me backward, ten thousand years at every step, and here I must rest, for I am lost in the plethora of time. Pardee Point shall be an Ebenezer, a stone of help. Before me is the inclined contact located in the rock cut; now can I fix my bearings from the Precambrian contact? Inescapably, there has crept upon me a feeling of return, of nostalgia, as though I had been here before. Perhaps it is rather the disquiet one has when he visits an ancestral grave. Or has the journey here let sweep over me the ever dormant yearning to return to the womb of Mother Earth? I am the sentient offspring of this rock; in this evanescent encounter dust shall return and meet in retrospect the dust from whence he came. "In the mother's body man knows the universe, in birth he forgets it." If I can recollect my prenatal past, my gestation in the geological womb, my genealogy, then I shall know who I am and where I am.

One steps into the abandoned tunnels enroute here, lower in the gorge, with an initial shudder. He enters the stone bowels of the Earth as though they were haunted with the jinn of Hades. The darkness is lonesome and alien. Intuitions of the savage persist, modern as I am. But the shudder passes, and, as is the case with one's initial encounter with the sea, there follows a fascination born of the intuition of connection, of reconnection. As the blood in my veins is but an inland sea, so the rock in my bones is but borrowed from the subterranean matrix in which I am reimmersed. Behind the hostility of plutonic depths, and interred with these sediments, and dissolved in the sea, are the nutrient powders of life. The waters of the oceans must, if I judge aright, have escaped juvenile from the Earth. Proto-rock sired the seas. Volatile magmas belched fertile vapors and gases. Rains fell from methane-ammonia laden skies, and fell again to enrich the sea with salts of erosion for a billion years. Out of the lithosphere: atmosphere, and hydrosphere, and biosphere. Earth's carbonate and apatite have graced me with the carbon, calcium, and phosphate that support my frame. The iron of hornblende and augite is the iron of the blood in which courses my life. Those stains of limonite and hematite now coloring this weath-

____________________
Reprinted by permission from Main Currents in Modern Thought 27( 1971):79-83. The Doe River Gorge is in Carter County, Tennessee, in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

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Philosophy Gone Wild: Environmental Ethics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • I. Ethics and Nature 11
  • 1: Is There an Ecological Ethic? 12
  • Notes 28
  • 2: Can and Ought We to Follow Nature? 30
  • 3: Philosophical Aspects of the Environment 53
  • 4: The River of Life 61
  • Ii. Values in Nature 73
  • 5: Values in Nature 74
  • Notes 89
  • 6: Are Values in Nature Subjective or Objective? 91
  • 7: Values Gone Wild 118
  • Iii. Environmental Philosophy in Practice 143
  • 8: Just Environmental Business 144
  • Introduction 144
  • References 177
  • 9: Valuing Wildlands 180
  • Iv. Nature in Experience 221
  • 11: Lake Solitude 223
  • 12: Meditation at the Precambrian Contact 233
  • 13: Farewell, Washington County 241
  • 14: Nature and Human Emotions 248
  • Subject Index 263
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