page:
contents page
previous next
zoom out zoom in
thumbnails double page single page large double page
fit width
clip to blog
Look up postcode 94133 click to zoom in click to zoom in  
page:
contents page
previous next
zoom out zoom in
thumbnails double page single page large double page
fit width
clip to blog

(1881-1955) is routinely rejected by deep ecologists because he is supposedly an arch anthropocentrist. For this reason, his entire interpretation of evolution is rejected. This is throwing out the baby with the bath water. Teilhard was limited in many ways,4 but what thinker is not? His adulation of the human species, and within the human species his denigration of the yellow species, are serious shortcomings. We have to see Teilhard's blind spots. But we also have to see the magnificence of Telhard's opus - and there is much that is magnificent in Teilhard! I have a deep suspicion that many who reject him out of hand have never read him carefully.

Teilhard transcended the dreary Darwinian view of evolution. "Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow."5 He clarified and unified our world view. He wove one huge homogeneous tapestry in which the prehistory of life; life; the phenomenon of man; and life beyond man are parts of one unbroken, unfolding glory. He explained the rise of life and its incessant self-perfectability through one single law: complexification/consciousness - the increasing compexity of the inner organization of organisms being seen as the key to their increasing performance, and to their status on the evolutionary ladder. He introduced the idea of the noosphere - that is, the sphere of the mind or of thought as another natural envelope of life at large - and showed that all life has been groping to articulate itself in the shape of noosphere. He broadened our conception of evolution, and with it our conception of seeing, so that

The International Rivers

Network Subscribe to The World Rivers

Review Published six times a year, The World Rivers Review brings you the latest news on the international fight to halt large dam projects and other schemes which would destroy the world's rivers.

NGOs and individuals: $15 Organisations and Institutions: $40 Send a cheque or money order in US $ to: World Rivers Review, 300 Broadway, Suite 28, San Fransisco, CA. 94133, USA.

126

"A far-reaching ecological conception of the world is incomplete without some form

of Eco-Theology."

it becomes a vision of one continuous homogenenous unfolding. He also enlarged our conception of science and of ourselves, introducing the notion of

4 Omega Point' or the point of ultimate conversions, in terms of which alone we can make sense of all previous stages and strivings of life.

Al l these points are of some importance to a new ecological view of the world. In general it seems foolish to me to think that we can propose and articulate a new cosmological Weltanschaung while bypassing or ignoring evolution. The attributes of Gaia - the earth which is alive, the universe which is alive, the mind which is alive, and the capacity of compassion for and solidarity with all forms of being - are products of evolution: they are the stages of evolution unfolding. I f we do not perceive at least that much, we lock ourselves into a vision which is so restricted that we actually doom ourselves to conceiving the universe as being as small as our immediate gaze .. . or we must return to older conceptions of the universe in which God has created all, and is controlling all.

Evolution must be taken seriously because only then can we take ourselves seriously, as evolving creatures, limited in our capacities, yet capable of taking the responsibility for all there is, including future generations and the future shape of the universe.

We need to be creative and evolving in our views of evolution. To think of evolution in Darwinian terms alone is lamentably backward. After all, over 125 years have passed since the publication of Darwin's magnum opus. Henri Bergson was actually born in 1859, the year Darwin's Origin of the Species was published. By the time Bergson achieved maturity, the Darwinian story of evolution was not only absorbed, but could be creatively transcended. This is what Bergson did in Creative Evolution. Bergson does not deny the idea of evolution, he only gives it wings and a creative potency. For Darwin and Neo-Darwinians, evolution is an almost dreary process of chance and necessity (Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity6 is a prime example); for Bergson, by contrast, evolution is an exquisitely creative process. This was the

first step in liberating evolution from the dreariness of the semi-deterministic and, at the same time, semi-incomprehensible, framework of Darwinism.

Teilhard made another step, as he showed creative evolution to be all-pervading and leading from matter to spirit. Teilhard not only considered evolution creative but also spiritual in character. This contribution was to demonstrate that there is no inconsistency in considering evolution to be both scientific and spiritual in character, thus obeying the laws of science and the laws of the spirit. And for a good reason: i f evolution embraces all, it lends itself to scientific and spiritual interpretations. Cosmogenesis is both a material (physical) and a spiritual process: matter is transformed into matter, but also matter is transformed into spirit. Evolution must be taken seriously, i f we are to take ourselves (and other species) seriously.

Cosmology

Because evolution is not taken seriously by leading proponents of Deep Ecology, its cosmology and ethics do not have a solid foundation. To say that the fundamental intuition of Deep Ecology is that "everything does indeed hang together"7 is to say close to nothing. Every moment and every school of thought which has rebelled against the crippling narrowness of the modern mechanistic worldview embraces this notion of 'wholism' - an admirable doctrine to assert, but not in itself sufficient as the foundation for a new cosmology.

Such notations as 'realistic praxis,' 'egalitarianism in principle,' and 'antianthropocentrism,' point to a new metaphysics. But these notions (which seem to be so important for the distinctiveness of Deep Ecology) are not coherently woven together into one structure. Warwick Fox is right, I think, when he says that:

In pursuing their central intuition of 'unity' (i.e., of no boundaries in the biospherical field), deep ecologists have possibly lost sight of the significance of the 'in process' aspect of their 'unity in process' metaphysics.8

But then, Fox does not seem to perceive that the very notion of "the significance of processes" implies the recognition of the process of evolution. Without the notion of evolution (of things evolving, 'getting better', in one sense or other of the term 'getting better'), the idea of processes, and particularly the idea of 'significant processes' - and, above all, the idea of new states of consciousness and new values - is lost or becomes groundless.

The Ecologist, Vol.18, Nos 4/5, 1988 Finally, let us be aware that a new cosmology requires an over-arching metaphor. For the mechanistic cosmology, this metaphor is a clock-like mechanism. Within the Eco-Cosmology that I have developed, the main metaphor of the universe is that of the sanctuary:9 we are its guardians and its dwellers; also its stewards, in the best sense of the term4 steward'. We are the guardians and stewards of the cosmic sanctuary within the matrix of unfolding evolution, which gives the raison d etre for our responsibility; for our care for our brothers and sisters, within the human family and within the biotic community; for our interactions with the universe at large (we are evolution conscious of itself, helping the cosmos to evolve further); for our valves, one of which is frugality, which means grace without waste; and for our ultimate strivings - in helping ourselves and evolution to arrive at Omega Point, or whatever name we use for the point of ultimate perfection by which we are somehow bound.

My central point is that the three constituents: cosmology, eschatology and value (or ethics) must be coherently connected together, must support each other, and must co-define each other. May I be presumptuous enough to notice that they are so connected in my Eco-philosophy? May I also point out that they are not so connected within Deep Ecology?

Conclusion

So, in conclusion, I shall observe that as admirable as the intentions of Deep Ecology (of the Californian School) are, its foundations are not deep enough, its assertions constantly beg questions, its cosmology leaves too much to be desired, and its spirituality is completely lacking. The umbrella Deep Ecology provides is definitely leaky. Without spirituality, there is no deeper justification of our eschatology - if, that is, we aim at an eschatology capable of transcending the consumer eschatology. Without assuming the significance of evolution, there is no meaningful way of ascribing significance to 'processes'. Yet, without processes, the idea of the seamless web of organic unity does not make sense. A new cosmology cannot be established by mere critique of old cosmologies.

Against the triviality, and constantly trivializing influence, of the old mechanistic world view, we have to have the courage to ask what is the meaning of the universe, what it takes delight in and what it abhors. The universe does not delight in just 'being'. It delights in life. The universe does not delight in life. It delights in consciousness. The universe does not delight in consciousness. It delights in love. The universe does not delight in love. It delights in us reaching the orbit of God.

When the primordial explosion of light becomes New Light in the shape of God, then the universe truly delights.

References: 1. Henryk Skolimowski, Eco-Philosophy: Designing New Tactics for Living, Marion Boyers, London, 1984. 2. Bill Devall and George Sessions, Deep Ecology, Living as if Nature Mattered, Gibbs M. Smith, 1984. 3. Henryk Skolimowski, Eco-Theology, Eco-Philosophy Centre, 1002 Granger, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48104. The book can be obtained directly from the Centre at $1.50, including postage. 4. Thomas Berry has written an in-depth critique of Teilhard's unduly anthropocentric positions in 'Teilhard in the Ecological Age', Riverdale Papers, VIII, 1983. 5. Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, Fontana, 1974, p. 219. 6. Jacques Monod, Le Hazard et La Necessite, Le Seuil, Paris, 1970. 7. Warwick Fox, 'On Guiding Stars to Deep Ecology', The Ecologist, Vol.14, Nos 5/6, 1984, p. 204. 8. Warwick Fox,' Deep Ecology: A New Philosophy for Our Times?' The Ecologist, Vol. 14, Nos 5/6, 1984. p. 199. 9. For a more detailed discussion of the idea of the universe as a sanctuary, see my monograph Ecological Humanism, Gryphon Press, 1977, subsequently incorporated as chapter 3 of my book on Eco-Philosophy (see note 1).

Sff^SSSsr" - ™ 0 * "CH E MALA y HOUS E

HHE MALAy HOUSE Rediscovering Malaysia's Indigenous Shelter System

Urn }ee Yuan

• 160 pages # 2 50 fullcolour photographs • 28 cm x 21 cm and 3-D drawings. • ISBN: 967-9966-05-4

Rediscovering Malaysia's Indigenous Shelter System

THE MALA Y HOUSE book brings t o yo u one o f the finest and richest components o f Malaysia's cultural heritage.

Fully illustrated b y over 250 full-colour photographs and threedimensional drawings, this book documents the architecture o f the Malay house, giving details o f the various house-types, the constructio n systems, the climatic design and the adaptations o f the house t o the social and cultural needs o f the Malays. I t also traces the many forces that are working against the survival o f this excellent housing solution.

The Malay house is extremely well designed t o suit the warm and humid Malaysian climate and also for the optimal and multi functional use o f space. I t also has a sophisticated and flexible construction system which allows the house t o be extended t o meet the growing needs o f the family.

This book is essential for those interested i n Malaysian culture, indigenous architecture and the future o f housing for people i n the Thir d World. Available from The Ecologist, Worthyvale Manor Farm, Camelford, Cornwall PL32 2TT, United Kingdom.

The Ecologist, Vol.18, Nos 4/5, 1988

127