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Identity, Community and the Natural Environment: Some Perspectives from Process Thinking

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

Alfred North Whitehead's and Charles Hartshorne's process thinking presents a complex and sophisticated metaphysical underpinning for a theory of self and self-identity. Their construction of the self has significant implications for understanding of the (human) community and the natural environment. Process thinking, I argue, undercuts the idea of self unity; of self-continuity over time; and of self-differentiation from the world. When combined, these three elements mean that it is hard to separate the individual, personal self from the community and the natural world. I compare these implications from process thinking with what might seem similar implications from radical ecological philosophies. Although there are ethical and metaphysical differences between process thinkers and deep ecologists, both kinds of theory need to be treated with caution in application to our thinking about the environment.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religious Studies University of Stirling Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland


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