A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTALISM III

A further first commandment from the Creator is for the first man, Adam,—before the creation of Eve—to give names to all the animals. Without names they have no value, for without names they cannot be adequately objectified in the human consciousness so as to be properly relegated to their inferior status as there for human beings. Without names our communion with other creatures would have to be more one of equality and mutual commensurability. Yet, even with names, or perhaps because of them, the animals did not provide Adam with a sense of belonging; he was unable to commune with and feel at home among them. He was lonely. God therefore took one of Adam’s ribs and created Eve to be his “helpmeet”, the help. And thus is Eve derivative of and secondary to Adam. Her value is derived from his. Like Mother Earth, she too is there for man’s use and pleasure.
This is the root Judaeo-Christian-Islamic myth that has underpinned Western civilization for millennia. But can we really say that it is the cause of its abuse of the planet and of women? We think not. In the concrete world, civilizations with very different origin myths, with the partial exception of many indigenous shamanistic cultures, have been similarly abusive of both. There are, as we suggested early on in the Introduction, other much more primal forces at work. All species seek to flourish, and in this, necessarily at the expense of others. All species that are able evince male competition for domination over and possession of the female. This philosophy and others are but the justifying myths for pre-existing conditions. They are the creation of humanity, not the other way around.
This does not obviate the need to understand and deconstruct these myths, however. Though in their original creation they reflected the prevailing subconscious values, their continued dominance retards the expression and adoption of new, more helpful paradigms. For humanity has, we believe, made some cognitive progress toward a healthier interface with the world and with itself. It is time for significant paradigm shifts. It is time for us to adopt new myths. For we agree with Zhuangzi that all points of view are ultimately myths; but we also agree with him that they are unavoidable. What is most important is to recognize them for the myths that they are, and to thereby be enabled to choose those that prove most helpful.

2 thoughts on “A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTALISM III”

  1. “There are, as we suggested early on in the Introduction, other much more primal forces at work. All species seek to flourish, and in this, necessarily at the expense of others. All species that are able evince male competition for domination over and possession of the female. This philosophy and others are but the justifying myths for pre-existing conditions. They are the creation of humanity, not the other way around.”

    Wow. Great description of where the source of myths comes from. This coincides with my belief that psychology precedes philosophy.

    It would be interesting to understand why shamanistic myths seem to not be tied into this human trait. I once visited a Mayan community and went through a ceremony that was lead by the Shaman elder. The Mayan village was the caretaker of a monkey sanctuary called Punta Laguna Nature Reserve. After the Shaman finished the ceremony I went up to him to thank him. He couldn’t speak English but his amazing presence was more than sufficient. He was very in-tuned with nature and that could be convincingly felt without him talking.

    What is also interesting is that there is another animal sanctuary near this one that was owned by an American. He didn’t just have monkeys there. He had all sorts of animals from all over the world. Then on October 13th 2014 a 1200 pound Camel got loose and attacked this owner as he was walking past the animal. It dragged him, was kicking him, biting him, and then sat down on top of him where he then died. Oh well, so much for human dominance over animals. Such is the randomness of life!

    1. Yes, I like that: “Psychology precedes philosophy.” A very important thing to realize and explore. It’s certainly true in my case.
      As for shamanism and indigenous cultures, I haven’t studied these much. My sense is that they have much to teach us, though it would be silly to imitate them for a number of reasons.
      Some, like David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous), make the case for understanding them as a means to better understanding how we can “return” to a similar world view in the context of environmentalism. That they have not reduced everything to verbal representations is part of this. Mystery remains.

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