A thought-provoking look at the value of not making separations between humans and nature
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Peter S. Wenz
In the West, humans tend to separate themselves from nature, valuing nature only as a means of meeting their own needs and happiness. This domination of nature often fosters human oppression instead of freedom and progress, as those who ignore abuses of nature tend to disregard human injustice as well. Peter S. Wenz argues that this oppression involves such destructive forces as sexism, ethnic strife, and political repression, including repression of the nuclear power industry's victims. Catastrophes like the Holocaust and the Gulf War are the result.
In contrast to the destructive "separate from nature" attitude, Wenz looks to various indigenous peoples as an example of societies where human beings revere nature for itself--societies where human beings flourish as individuals, in families, and in communities. Unlike societies dependent on commerce and industry, many indigenous peoples consider themselves part of a circle of life, reaping benefits far greater than the technological advances of the West. Wenz considers how to adopt the perspective of some indigenous cultures and how to make it work in our fast-food world. Additionally, he uses a trip to the World Uranium Hearings in Salzburg as a vehicle for understanding complex philosophical issues from consumerism to anthropocentrism.
"Nature's Keeper is an eloquent critique of what might be termed the central myth of modernity: that scientific and technological progress and the increased control of nature make for a better life for human beings. For Wenz, 'progress' is a 'tragedy.' Via the dominant religious paradigm, the rise of what he calls 'commercialism' and industry, the modern state, and rule-bound bureaucracies, a five-part pattern is repeated over and over again. The end result of this pattern is an increase in human misery, insecurity, exploitation and injustice."
1. Our Christian Heritage
4. Nationalism, Bureaucracy, and the Holocaust
5. Nuclear Power and Radiation Exposure
6. Nuclear Power and Human Oppression
7. Indigenous Peace and Prosperity
8. Indigenous World Views
10. Practical Suggestions
The Flight Home
Peter S. Wenz, Professor of Philosophy and Legal Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is the author of Environmental Justice, Abortion Rights as Religious Freedom (Temple), and co-editor with Laura Westra of Faces of Environmental Racism.
In the series
Ethics and Action, edited by Tom Regan.
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