Religion and Ecology

Religion and Ecology: Developing a Planetary Ethic

whitney a. bauman
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Religion and Ecology
    Book Description:

    Moving beyond identity politics while continuing to respect diverse entities and concerns, Whitney A. Bauman builds a planetary politics that better responds to the realities of a pluralistic world. Calling attention to the historical, political, and ecological influences shaping our understanding of nature, religion, humanity, and identity, Bauman collapses the boundaries separating male from female, biology from machine, human from more than human, and religion from science, encouraging readers to embrace hybridity and the inherent fluctuations of an open, evolving global community.

    As he outlines his planetary ethic, Bauman concurrently develops an environmental ethic of movement that relies not on place but on the daily connections we make across the planet. He shows how both identity politics and environmental ethics fail to realize planetary politics and action, limited as they are by foundational modes of thought that create entire worlds out of their own logic. Introducing a postfoundational vision not rooted in the formal principles of "nature" or "God" and not based in the idea of human exceptionalism, Bauman draws on cutting-edge insights from queer, poststructural, and deconstructive theory and makes a major contribution to the study of religion, science, politics, and ecology.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53710-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Religion, Political Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Emergence of Planetary Identities
    (pp. 1-16)

    This book is an attempt to think about new ways of understanding self-and-other beyond substance-based notions of identity. Substance-based notions of identity work on the assumption that all things have essential components to which they can be reduced, whether these components be material (genes) or immaterial (a soul or mind). Substance-based identities rely also on a metaphysic of substance that claims reality can be reduced to some smallest common denominator. As such, the book begins from questions of how to think self, other, and difference without the narrated markers of substance-based identity boundaries. In other words, it addresses the question...

    (pp. 17-36)

    One of the most crucial insights of the last four hundred years, I would argue, is the one that Nietzsche articulates in the opening quote of this chapter. Philosophies and religions, science and matter are but different ways of trying to account for the worlds we inhabit: neither is transcendent to the other, but rather both exist always already together. There is no origin, no transcendent point from which either an idealist or materialist account of the world can recapitulate reality because eventually they must account for their own accounting and the ouroboros of thinking and being eats its own...

  6. 2 DESTABILIZING NATURE: Natura Naturans, Emergence, and Evolution’s Rainbow
    (pp. 37-62)

    As mentioned in the previous chapter, the always already of religion and science together is covered over in attempts to make one side of the religion and science equation the foundation by which the other can be explained. Most often this is accomplished through stories about what nature or ultimate reality is. Such stories are created through histories of cultures and their institutions reflecting upon the type of knowledge that is under investigation and the methods for gaining that knowledge. These practices all too often become foundational and cover over the process by which they were constructed over time. When...

  7. 3 DESTABILIZING RELIGION: The Death of God, a Viable Agnosticism, and the Embrace of Polydoxy
    (pp. 63-84)

    Inasmuch as there has been a destabilization of the concept of nature complete with a geneaology of scientists who understand nature as something other than stable, mechanical, or anything that can be contained, it is also true with religion or meaning making. Furthermore, inasmuch as religion has helped to destabilize nature, so science has helped to destabilize foundational understandings of religion, meaning, and value. In other words, religion and science are always already involved in codefining one another. This chapter will explore the ways in which religion can be rethought if grounded in these evolving ecosocial contexts. Religion, rather than...

  8. 4 DESTABILIZING IDENTITY: Beyond Identity Solipsism
    (pp. 85-106)

    If we are working from the assumption that religion and science, the ideal and material, and values and facts always already mutually inform our ways of knowing and becoming in the world, and that the realities these different concepts describe are nonsubstantial, evolving, and always open toward an unknown future, then the ways in which we think of our own selves must also be nonsubstantial. In other words, the “I” to which we refer is not some sort of essence, whether that be based upon materiality (e.g., genetics) or immateriality (e.g., theimago dei, cogito, or soul). Such essences reify...

    (pp. 107-126)

    Truths matter and that which you assent to becomes the world you work to create. The nature of truth is persuasion. What is true becomes the cocreation of the world that you live in. Certain systems support truths and thought habits that become natural or given. As meaning-making creatures, the two-fold bind we live in is constantly criticizing accepted truths while at the same time inevitably living by truths that are equally contentious. This is what it means to become a response-able meaning-making creature.

    On the one hand, this book is only arguing that we are coconstructors of our reality:...

    (pp. 127-150)

    According to ecocritic Ursula Heise, “The crucial insights of the last twenty years of cultural theory into the ways local and national identities depend on excluded others, how these rely on but often deny their own hybrid mixtures with other places and cultures, and in what ways real and imagined travel to other places shapes self-definition” have not really been taken up in Western forms of environmental discourse.¹ Much of ecological and religious thinking is tied up in securing home, community, place, identity, value, and meaning. This is juxtaposed with the globalized, postworlds in which we live, where such stability,...

  11. 7 CHALLENGING HUMAN EXCEPTIONALISM: Human Becoming, Technology, Earth Others, and Planetary Identities
    (pp. 151-172)

    Here, in the final chapter of this book, we encounter a boundary writ ultimate by religious and scientific thinking about nature and truth: that of our very species. To a great extent, our species, like our subjective experiences, is always already not our own. In order to claim a species boundary one must make out of the present evolutionary moment an ultimate foundation and background the millions of other species, plants, animals, minerals, and other organisms that have produced this very moment. Such space-time belongs to the linear space-time of eternal foundations, linear progression, and monological identities critiqued throughout this...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 173-192)
    (pp. 193-216)
    (pp. 217-226)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 227-240)