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Western Cultural Values

Western Cultural Values - They could each be debated at...

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Western Cultural Values First argument I want to consider is that the CEC is best understood as a consequence of Western cultural values There are several variants of this argument, differing primarily by which specific values are charged as guilty, and why: 1) Judeo-Christian religion (Lynn White 1967): for placing humans apart from (and superior to) nature, giving humans "dominion over nature" and reduced motivation to take care of the planet given expectation of an eternal afterlife and coming Armageddon 2) Cartesian dualism (after 17th century philosopher Descartes) and/or scientific rationalism: for robbing nature of spiritual significance, and conceiving of humans (or at least human thought or culture) as separate from nature 3) Patriarchal or phallocentric ideology: for identifying nature with the feminine, and seeking to subjugate both to a masculine "will to power" This is of course a very brief and simplistic summary of some rather complicated arguments
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Unformatted text preview: They could each be debated at length (and I expect we'll do some of that in class), but let me just mention a few critiques of such views First, it can be argued that most of these "western values" arguments paint with too broad a brush; thus, Judeo-Christian religion has been around for several thousand years, so if the CEC is an inevitable product of it, it's sure been a long time coming On other hand, it may assign blame too narrowly, since non-Western cultures do not have perfect environmental records (e.g., extensive deforestation in China goes back several thousand years, and coexists with refined art, poetry, and philosophy celebrating transcendent beauty of nature; extensive deforestation in the circum-Mediterranean preceded the spread of Christianity) This suggests that these explanations are at best partial; perhaps it takes a certain set of values (not necessarily Western) plus something else to produce widespread environmental damage...
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