Worldviews and Ecology
This issue of Bucknell Review provides an overview of the various traditional and contemporary worldviews as resources for thinking about ecology. It is increasingly clear that the environmental crisis is one of vast scale and complexity. It is also evident that the urgency of the problem is being raised by many individuals in a variety of disciplines. It is the thesis of this volume (and of J. Baird Calcott's essay) that a new global environmental ethics will be needed to solve some of the critical issues that face us in the late twentieth century: as many have noted, "we will not preserve what we do not respect." It is the editors' contention that various religious and cultural worldviews have helped shaped traditional attitudes toward nature. Indeed, as Larry Rasmussen observes, from a worldview there emerges a method for action, from a cosmology there arises an ethic. These are inextricably linked. By presenting various worldviews, the editors hope that a broad context for a new ecological ethics will be created. Without such a comprehensive context of restrain and respect, the exploitation of nature and its resources will continue unchecked. The first part of this volume begins to fulfill the charge of Tu Wei-ming that we must examine the resources of the world's great spiritual traditions in finding our way beyond the Enlightenment mentality. The religions of Native America, Asian, and Mediterranean peoples are explored for the textual, ritual, and experiential evidence they offer for an understanding of human-earth relationships. A range of positions is evident: from the biocentric position of Native Americans, to the anthropocentric positions of Judaim, Christianity, Isalm and Baha'I, to the more ecocentric positions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Janism, as well as the anthropocosmic position of Taoism and Confucuanism, in each case, the role of the human in relation to the cosmos is reexamined form the lens of traditional religions. In the second part of the volume, a range of contemporary ecological perspectives is discusses. The comparative survey by Ralph Metzner sets the tone for this section: Metzner describes the paradigm shift in perceptions and values that is taking place in many areas in the transition from the industrial to the ecozoic age. The essays by Charlene Spretnak on ecofeminism, David Ray Griffin on process philosophy, and George Sessions on deep ecology testify to this paradigm shift already occurring. The last two pieces by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry point toward the need for a radical rethinking of the story of the universe - its emergence and evolution - and toward a new understanding of our role in this dynamic, unfolding process. Worldviews and Ecology, then, is but a beginning in charting the territory of traditional and contemporary worldviews that are being rediscovered or articulated for the first time in response to the current environmental crisis. It is an invitation for further creative commentaries and worldviews to emerge.
Contributors: Tu Wei-Ming, J. Baird Callicott, John A. Grim, Eric Katz, Jay McDaniel, Roger E. Timm, Robert A. White, Christopher Key Chapple, Brian Brown, Michael Tobias, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Ralph Metzner, Larry L. Rasmussen, Charlene Spretnak, David Ray Griffin, George Sessions, Thomas Berry, and Brian Swimme.
About the editors:
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