The Ecology of Environmentalism

Written by Sam Vaknin

The concept of "nature" is a romantic invention. It was spun byrepparttar likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau inrepparttar 132503 18th century as a confabulated utopian contrast torepparttar 132504 dystopia of urbanization and materialism. The traces of this dewy-eyed conception ofrepparttar 132505 "savage" and his unmolested, unadulterated surroundings can be found inrepparttar 132506 more malignant forms of fundamentalist environmentalism.

Atrepparttar 132507 other extreme are religious literalists who regard Man asrepparttar 132508 crown of creation with complete dominion over nature andrepparttar 132509 right to exploit its resources unreservedly. Similar, veiled, sentiments can be found among scientists. The Anthropic Principle, for instance, promoted by many outstanding physicists, claims thatrepparttar 132510 nature ofrepparttar 132511 Universe is preordained to accommodate sentient beings - namely, us humans.

Industrialists, politicians and economists have only recently begun paying lip service to sustainable development and torepparttar 132512 environmental costs of their policies. Thus, in a way, they bridgerepparttar 132513 abyss - at least verbally - between these two diametrically opposed forms of fundamentalism. Still, essential dissimilarities betweenrepparttar 132514 schools notwithstanding,repparttar 132515 dualism of Man vs. Nature is universally acknowledged.

Modern physics - notablyrepparttar 132516 Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics - has abandonedrepparttar 132517 classic split between (typically human) observer and (usually inanimate) observed. Environmentalists, in contrast, have embraced this discarded worldview wholeheartedly. To them, Man isrepparttar 132518 active agent operating upon a distinct reactive or passive substrate - i.e., Nature. But, though intuitively compelling, it is a false dichotomy.

Man is, by definition, a part of Nature. His tools are natural. He interacts withrepparttar 132519 other elements of Nature and modifies it - but so do all other species. Arguably, bacteria and insects exert on Nature far more influence with farther reaching consequences than Man has ever done.

Still,repparttar 132520 "Law ofrepparttar 132521 Minimum" - that there is a limit to human population growth and that this barrier is related torepparttar 132522 biotic and abiotic variables ofrepparttar 132523 environment - is undisputed. Whatever debate there is veers between two strands of this Malthusian Weltanschauung:repparttar 132524 utilitarian (a.k.a. anthropocentric, shallow, or technocentric) andrepparttar 132525 ethical (alternatively termed biocentric, deep, or ecocentric).

First,repparttar 132526 Utilitarians.

Economists, for instance, tend to discussrepparttar 132527 costs and benefits of environmental policies. Activists, onrepparttar 132528 other hand, demand that Mankind considerrepparttar 132529 "rights" of other beings and of nature as a whole in determining a least harmful course of action.

Utilitarians regard nature as a set of exhaustible and scarce resources and deal with their optimal allocation from a human point of view. Yet, they usually fail to incorporate intangibles such asrepparttar 132530 beauty of a sunset orrepparttar 132531 liberating sensation of open spaces.

"Green" accounting - adjustingrepparttar 132532 national accounts to reflect environmental data - is still in its unpromising infancy. It is complicated byrepparttar 132533 fact that ecosystems do not respect man-made borders and byrepparttar 132534 stubborn refusal of many ecological variables to succumb to numbers. To complicate things further, different nations weigh environmental problems disparately.

Despite recent attempts, such asrepparttar 132535 Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) produced byrepparttar 132536 World Economic Forum (WEF), no one knows how to define and quantify elusive concepts such as "sustainable development". Evenrepparttar 132537 costs of replacing or repairing depleted resources and natural assets are difficult to determine.

Efforts to capture "quality of life" considerations inrepparttar 132538 straitjacket ofrepparttar 132539 formalism of distributive justice - known as human-welfare ecology or emancipatory environmentalism - backfired. These led to derisory attempts to reverserepparttar 132540 inexorable processes of urbanization and industrialization by introducing localized, small-scale production.

Ethical Relativism and Absolute Taboos - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

I. Taboos

Taboos regulate our sexual conduct, race relations, political institutions, and economic mechanisms - virtually every realm of our life. According torepparttar 2002 edition ofrepparttar 132501 "Encyclopedia Britannica", taboos are "the prohibition of an action orrepparttar 132502 use of an object based on ritualistic distinctions of them either as being sacred and consecrated or as being dangerous, unclean, and accursed".

Jews are instructed to ritually cleanse themselves after having been in contact with a Torah scroll - or a corpse. This association ofrepparttar 132503 sacred withrepparttar 132504 accursed andrepparttar 132505 holy withrepparttar 132506 depraved isrepparttar 132507 key torepparttar 132508 guilt and sense of danger which accompanyrepparttar 132509 violation of a taboo.

In Polynesia, whererepparttar 132510 term originated, saysrepparttar 132511 Britannica, "taboos could include prohibitions on fishing or picking fruit at certain seasons; food taboos that restrictrepparttar 132512 diet of pregnant women; prohibitions on talking to or touching chiefs or members of other high social classes; taboos on walking or traveling in certain areas, such as forests; and various taboos that function during important life events such as birth, marriage, and death".

Political correctness in all its manifestations – in academe,repparttar 132513 media, and in politics - is a particularly pernicious kind of taboo enforcement. It entails an all-pervasive self-censorship coupled with social sanctions. Considerrepparttar 132514 treatment ofrepparttar 132515 right to life, incest, suicide, and race.

II. Incest

In contemporary thought, incest is invariably associated with child abuse and its horrific, long-lasting, and often irreversible consequences. But incest is far from beingrepparttar 132516 clear-cut or monolithic issue that millennia of taboo imply. Incest with minors is a private - and particularly egregious - case of pedophilia or statutory rape. It should be dealt with forcefully. But incest covers much more besides these criminal acts.

Incest isrepparttar 132517 ethical and legal prohibition to have sex with a related person or to marry him or her - even ifrepparttar 132518 people involved are consenting and fully informed adults. Contrary to popular mythology, banning incest has little to do withrepparttar 132519 fear of genetic diseases. Even genetically unrelated parties (a stepfather and a stepdaughter, for example) can commit incest.

Incest is also forbidden between fictive kin or classificatory kin (that belong torepparttar 132520 same matriline or patriline). In certain societies (such as certain Native American tribes andrepparttar 132521 Chinese) it is sufficient to carryrepparttar 132522 same family name (i.e., to belong torepparttar 132523 same clan) to render a relationship incestuous. Clearly, in these instances, eugenic considerations have little to do with incest.

Moreover,repparttar 132524 use of contraceptives means that incest does not need to result in pregnancy andrepparttar 132525 transmission of genetic material. Inbreeding (endogamous) or straightforward incest isrepparttar 132526 norm in many life forms, even among primates (e.g., chimpanzees). It was also quite common until recently in certain human societies -repparttar 132527 Hindus, for instance, or many Native American tribes, and royal families everywhere. Inrepparttar 132528 Ptolemaic dynasty, blood relatives married routinely. Cleopatra’s first husband was her 13 year old brother, Ptolemy XIII.

Nor isrepparttar 132529 taboo universal. In some societies, incest is mandatory or prohibited, according to one's social class (Bali). In others,repparttar 132530 Royal House started a tradition of incestuous marriages, later emulated byrepparttar 132531 lower classes (Ancient Egypt). The list is long and it serves to demonstraterepparttar 132532 diversity of attitudes towards this most universal practice.

The more primitive and aggressiverepparttar 132533 society,repparttar 132534 more strict and elaboraterepparttar 132535 set of incest prohibitions andrepparttar 132536 fiercerrepparttar 132537 penalties for their violation. The reason may be economic. Incest interferes with rigid algorithms of inheritance in conditions of extreme scarcity (for instance, of land and water) and consequently leads to survival-threatening internecine disputes. Most of humanity is still subject to such a predicament.

Freud said that incest provokes horror because it touches upon our forbidden, ambivalent sexual cravings and aggression towards members of our close family. Westermark held that "familiarity breeds repulsion" and thatrepparttar 132538 incest taboo - rather than counter inbred instincts - simply reflects emotional reality. Both ignoredrepparttar 132539 fact thatrepparttar 132540 incest taboo is learned - not inherent.

We can easily imagine a society where incest is extolled, taught, and practiced - and out-breeding is regarded with horror and revulsion. The incestuous marriages among members ofrepparttar 132541 royal households of Europe were intended to preserverepparttar 132542 familial property and expandrepparttar 132543 clan's territory. They were normative, not aberrant. Marrying an outsider was considered abhorrent.

III. Suicide

Self-sacrifice, avoidable martyrdom, engaging in life risking activities, refusal to prolong one's life through medical treatment, euthanasia, overdosing, and self-destruction that isrepparttar 132544 result of coercion - are all closely related to suicide. They all involve a deliberately self-inflicted death.

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