We may be enjoying the last act of a piece of tragic theatre. Aristotle explains that a tragedy begins with an overweening, aggressive act on the part of some hero, which angers the gods or disturbs the balance of nature. The restoration of order after such hubris is called nemesis, and involves catastrophe for the hero.
But this seems too biblical a narrative, moving inexorably from creation to apocalypse. Surely something can be done to arrest this progress?
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Long ago, we would have awaited a deus ex machina, a god descending from the heavens to save us. Even postmodern theology, however, agrees with radical humanism that there remains only the existentialist answer: we have to save ourselves from an impending world-destruction which we ourselves have set in train. How can this be done? Clearly, by coming to our senses and by first rejecting the absurd myths that the twentieth-century industrial world has lived by and tried to foist on everyone else: the primacy of economics; the inevitability of progress defined as more; the value of action over reflection; the importance of materialism; and the patently ridiculous belief that happiness derives from having rather than from being.
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IPP 507: Environmental Ethics
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Author J. Douglas Porteous, Dou Porteous J. Porteous is professor of geography at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Town and country planning E.
Porteous, J. Douglas (John Douglas) 1943-
Social and economic aspects of conservation H. Cultural landscapes H. Historic landscapes H.
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