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Notes on ‘Self-Realization: An Ecological Approach to Being in the World’

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

How to conceive and experience one’s self is the linchpin for achieving an efficacious environmental philosophy. Naess was among the first to put the question of self at the center of environmental philosophy and laid cautious claim to ‘introduce … a concept of ecological self’ for the first time. Naess’ ‘ecological self’ is vitiated by at least four flaws: (i) an eclectic and mutually inconsistent set of informative sources (Freud, Fromm, William James; Mohandas Ghandhi and Advaita Vedanta); (ii) a narrow conception of ethics drawn principally from Kant; (iii) inattention to state-of-the-art ecology (the science) as a model for an ecological self; (iv) reinforcing rather than deconstructing the insidious notion of self as substance. A self resonant with ecology would posit the self as a knot, nexus, or node in a skein of social and environmental relationships. Such relationships are internal. The classical antecedent of such an ecological self is not the Hindu Ātman/Brahman—the universal substance in all—as per Naess, but the Buddhist Anātman or Anattā (No-self)/Śūnyatā (Emptiness). In the hybrid philosophical expression of Japanese Buddhism by members of the Kyoto School, the core of the internally related ecological self is the topos of mu.

Affiliations: 1: University of North Texas


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