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From transport and housing to food production and fashion, our civilisation is driving climate and ecological breakdown.
It's no coincidence that almost every single sector of industry is contributing to the planet's downfall, either. A deeper issue underlies each one's part in the malaise enveloping the planet's ecosystems—and its origins date back to long before the industrial revolution. To truly bring ourselves into harmony with the natural world, we must return to seeing humanity as part of it.
Story - Separation - Humans - Nature - Culture
Though a varied and complex story, the widespread separation of humans from nature in Western culture can be traced to a few key historical developments, starting with the rise of Judeo-Christian values 2000 years ago. Prior to this point, belief systems with multiple gods and earth spirits, such as paganism, dominated. They generally considered the sacred to be found throughout nature, and humanity as thoroughly enmeshed within it.
When Judaism and Christianity rose to become the dominant religious force in Western society, their sole god—as well as sacredness and salvation—were repositioned outside of nature. The Old Testament taught that God made humans in his own image and gave them dominion over the Earth.
Lynn - White - Values - Foundations - Anthropocentrism
As historian Lynn White famously argued, such values laid the foundations of modern anthropocentrism, a system of beliefs that frames humans as separate from and superior to the nonhuman world. Indeed, those who hold literal beliefs in the Bible tend to express significantly more concerns over how environmental degradation affects humans than animals.
In the early 17th century, French father of modern philosophy René Descartes framed the world as essentially split between the realm of mind and that of inert matter. As the only rational beings, Descartes saw humans as wholly separate from and superior to nature and nonhuman animals, who were considered mere mindless machines to be mastered and exploited at will. Descartes'...
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