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Being-in-Creation: Human Responsibility in an Endangered World

Being-in-Creation: Human Responsibility in an Endangered World

Brian Treanor
Bruce Ellis Benson
Norman Wirzba
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 254
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  • Book Info
    Being-in-Creation: Human Responsibility in an Endangered World
    Book Description:

    What is the proper relationship between human beings and the more-than-human world? This philosophical question, which underlies vast environmental crises, forces us to investigate the tension between our extraordinary powers, which seem to set us apart from nature, even above it, and our thoroughgoing ordinariness, as revealed by the evolutionary history we share with all life. The contributors to this volume ask us to consider whether the anxiety of unheimlichkeit, which in one form or another absorbed so much of twentieth-century philosophy, might reveal not our homelessness in the cosmos but a need for a fundamental belongingness and implacement in it.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-6503-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. Introduction: The Human Place in the Natural World
    (pp. 1-22)
    David Brian Treanor

    Philosophers, theologians, poets, and storytellers have all wondered about their place in the universe, aboutourplace—the place of humans—in the wider cosmos or in creation. The very fact that we feel compelled to ask the questions about where we fit and how we belong implies something significant about the human condition: that we don’t fit—orfeelwe don’t fit—into the wider fabric of the world. We find ourselves suspended, like Ezekiel, between heaven and Earth, challenged to find our way in a world that is both familiar and foreign, one that both fits and chafes....

  5. Creation, Creativity, and Creatureliness: The Wisdom of Finite Existence
    (pp. 23-36)
    Rowan Williams

    Bishop Kallistos has already mentioned the significance in the twentieth century of Father Sergei Bulgakov as one who elaborated a comprehensive theory of the wisdom of God as the key to understanding a whole range of theological issues, and indeed issues more than just theological. (If any issue is “really more than theological”; perhaps I should say less than theological!)

    But Father Bulgakov’s thought has often seemed impenetrable to the casual Western reader, or even the not-so-casual Western reader, and the not-so-casual Eastern reader, as well. It has seemed to be a piece of metaphysical elaboration without immediate relation to...

  6. Rowan Williams and Ecological Rationality
    (pp. 37-50)
    Jarrod Longbons

    Ecological anxieties loom large in the popular mythos. Films such asAvatar, television programs likeLife After People, “Climate Gate,” and countlessfeuilletonsreveal widespread concern about the health of our planet. Amidst the wilderness of messages is a voice crying out like Nietzsche’s “mad man.” His name: Slavoj Žižek. But whereas the “mad man” announces the death of God, and too early for his time to hear it, Žižek announces the death of ecology, claiming that ecological obsession is ideological. This ideology says that the ecological crisis is the result of human activity, because modern humanity is itself “becoming...

  7. The Art of Creaturely Life: A Question of Human Propriety
    (pp. 51-73)
    Norman Wirzba

    In 1988 Jean-Luc Nancy convened a group of leading French philosophers around the question “Who comes after the Subject?” Nancy wanted to assess the status of human subjectivity after much reflection upon it by thinkers as diverse as Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Bataille, and Wittgenstein, but he also wanted to explore what such reflection looks like in the wake of a century punctuated by war, fascism, Stalinism, the camps, decolonization, the birth of new nations, American economism, and the proliferation of (increasingly uncompelling) signs. Far from being a nihilistic exercise in the obliteration of subjectivity or the self, Nancy...

  8. Face of Nature, Gift of Creation: Thoughts Toward a Phenomenology of Ktisis
    (pp. 74-99)
    Bruce Foltz

    Words matter. This is known to philosophers. And to poets. It is known to theologians. And to jurists, as well. Words matter in different ways. And to different degrees.

    A certain word, for example, might exercise such power in a poem that it serves as a key word. Thus, in the earliest of his Hölderlin essays, Heidegger suggests that the wordnatureis a key word (Leitwort) in Hölderlin’s poem “As When on a Feast Day. . . .” Yet Heidegger immediately adds that this key wordnaturelags behind, or falls short, of what the poet more aptly calls...

  9. Creativity as Call to Care for Creation? John Zizioulas and Jean-Louis Chrétien
    (pp. 100-112)
    Christina M. Gschwandtner

    Jean-Louis Chrétien, employing this quote by Philo and drawing on various aspects of the Christian tradition, argues for a “cosmic liturgy” centered in the human being who “can in his song, offer the world to God.”¹ Humans are able to provide an ark for all creatures as they offer them to the divine through their creativity and via what Chrétien calls a “eucharist of speech.” Offering the creation to God in praise and hymnody is both a special task for human beings and a response to the divine call. Humans hence carry a responsibility for the world: they shelter, protect,...

  10. Creature Discomforts: Levinas’s Interpretation of Creation Ex Nihilo
    (pp. 113-127)
    Jeffrey Hanson

    The notion of creationex nihilohas understandably been treated as a matter of theological or ontological interest throughout the overwhelming majority of Western history. The last century, though, has seen at least one remarkable effort to rethink creationex nihiloas a component of a meta-ethical philosophy, an effort mounted by no less a thinker than Emmanuel Levinas. Particularly inTotality and Infinity, Levinas is not shy about weaving creationex nihiloas a thread into the tapestry of interrelated concepts he wishes to explore and exposit.¹ It is one of the more underappreciated of a multitude of expressions...

  11. Reflections from Thoreau’s Concord
    (pp. 128-142)
    Edward F. Mooney

    With Thoreau in mind, I set out to reflect on creation, on being a creature among others in creation, and on the role of creativity as a vector animating creatures and creation. These might be philosophical or theological matters, but in any case, Thoreau would have me look beyond my would-be subtle thoughts on such august things. He’d have me ponder smoothly or subtly or awkwardly within the venture of myliving as such—the life I’dcall mine(andwouldbe mine) here and now. A philosopher willlive into and live out and live fromsuch reflections—as...

  12. Creation and the Glory of Creatures
    (pp. 143-158)
    Janet Martin Soskice

    Near the Colosseum in Rome stands the Basilica of San Clemente, a medieval church built upon the ruins of a fourth-century basilica. It is the apse of the medieval church that concerns us here, for it contains a Byzantine mosaic, dating from 1110 to 1130 C.E., depicting the Tree of Life or (it is the same thing to the mosaic artist) the cross of Christ. The crucified Christ rests peacefully on a dark cross, eyes shut, flanked by Mary the Mother of God and St. John. Standard so far; but less so are the twelve doves that adorn the cross:...

  13. Care of the Soil, Care of the Self: Creation and Creativity in the American Suburbs
    (pp. 159-172)
    T. Wilson Dickinson

    The smell of freshly cut grass caught on the breeze carries, for me, largely positive associations. Indicative of summer—a time of relaxation and frequent celebration—the first hints of this aroma after a season of cold and solitude are typically welcome. As I have been among the numbers of the itinerant intelligentsia for quite a while, it has been some time since the activity of mowing has been my responsibility. When that changed this past summer, and I found myself pushing a strange, unpleasantly loud contraption around the yard, different associations were brought to mind. As the sweat from...

  14. Dream Writing Beyond a Wounded World: Topographies of the Eco-Divine
    (pp. 173-184)
    Susan Pyke

    If it is accepted that pro-environmental actions are related to positive perceptions of the external environment, then it can be argued that literature has the potential to shift readers’ preparedness to act for constructive ecological change.¹ Texts that discern communications from nonhuman matter play a particularly interesting role in this conditional context. Anne Carson’s passionate contemporary poem “The Glass Essay,” together with Emily Brontë’s excessive nineteenth-century novelWuthering Heights, forms a case in point.² Carson, like Brontë, describes the effect of an exchange between the human and nonhuman, which necessarily occurs beyond the limits of signification, and her poem’s engagement...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 185-232)
  16. List of Contributors
    (pp. 233-236)
  17. Index
    (pp. 237-242)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-244)