Ethics and Ecology

Thomas Berry on :Ethics And Ecology

Now our concerns for the human community can only be fulfilled by a concern for the integrity of the natural world. The planet cannot support its human presence unless there is a reciprocal human support for the life systems of the planet. This more comprehensive perspective we might identify as macro phase ethics. This is something far beyond the actions of communities, or even of nations. We are presently concerned with ethical judgements on an entirely different order of magnitude.

Indeed, the human community has never previously been forced to ethical judgements on this scale because we never before had the capacity for deleterious actions with such consequences….(GW, chapter9, page 100-101)

We find ourselves ethically destitute just when, for the first time, we are faced with ultimacy, the irreversible closing down of the Earth’s functioning in its major life systems. Our ethical traditions know how to deal with suicide, homicide, or even genocide: but these traditions collapse entirely when confronted with biocide, the extinction of vulnerable life systems of the Earth, and geocide, the devastation of the Earth herself. (GW, chapter 9, page 104)

The present urgency is to begin thinking within the context of the whole planet, the integral Earth community with all its human and other-than-human components…. The ecological community is not subordinate to the human community. Nor is the ecological imperative derivative from human ethics….

The basic ethical norm is the well- being of the comprehensive community and the attainment of human well –being within that community. Here we find that we are dealing with a profound reversal in our perspective on ourselves and on the universe about us. …. (GW,chapter 9, page 105)

GW: The Great Work, Thomas Berry ISBN-0-609-80499



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