Synopses & Reviews
] is one of the few books that begins to integrate theological narratives with scientific ones, looking for a compelling correlation between them where modern and religious sensibilities might both be affirmed. This is a unique work."Bron Taylor, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and author of Ecological Resistance Movements: The Global Emergence of Radical and Popular Environmentalism.
"Being Human succeeds at accounting for people's conception of humaness and human's relationship with natureno easy task, but one that is a crucial starting point for any discussion of environmental ethics."Kay Read, Associate Professor of Comparative Ethics and Native American Religions, DePaul University, and author of Time and Sacrifice in the Aztec Cosmos
"Anna Peterson's Being Human is a stellar work of integration. Peterson argues that the ideology of human exceptionalism and disconnection from the rest of nature is a major source of social and ecological harm. She draws together cultural constructionist, Asian, Native American, feminist and evolutionary thought to present a view of the human as both an integral part of nature and a creator of culture, called to develop an ethic of interrelationality for the sake of the wellbeing of the whole earth community."Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett Theological Center, author of Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing.
"In the postmodern academic climate of slice-and-dice, take-no-prisoners 'analysis,' and 'critical theory,' Anna Peterson's book is a welcome breath of fresh air. She positions her discussion as a development ofrather than a deconstructive triumph overearlier work in the field of environmental philosophy. Peterson takes up the themes that are absolutely central to the fieldthe nature of nature, human nature, and the appropriate relationship between the two. Her conclusions are well-informed, well-reasoned, reasonable, and last but not least, beautifully and engagingly expressed."Baird Callicott, Professor of Philosophy and Religion Studies, University of North Texas, and author of Earth's Insights: A Multicultural Survey of Ecological Ethics from the Mediterranean Basin to the Australian Outback (California, 1997), In Defense of the Land: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, and Beyond the Land Ethic: More Essays in Environmental Philosophy.
"Peterson challenges us to think critically about the ideas about nature and humanity that shape our ethical behavior. She also brings into critical dialogue insights from a wide variety of religious traditionsBuddhist, Taoist, Navaho, Koyukon, Catholic and Protestant. Peterson helps us think creatively and critically about the task of comparative ethics, and the imperatives of environmental ethics. This book is a must-read for any one concerned with environmental ethics and with comparative ethics."Sharon Welch, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and author of A Feminist Ethic of Risk, Sweet Dreams in America: Making Ethics and Spirituality Work, and Communities of Resistance and Solidarity: A Feminist Theology of LIberation.
Being Human examines the complex connections among conceptions of human nature, attitudes toward non-human nature, and ethics. Anna Peterson proposes an "ethical anthropology" that examines how ideas of nature and humanity are bound together in ways that shape the very foundations of cultures. Peterson discusses mainstream Western understandings of what it means to be human, as well as alternatives to these perspectives, and suggests that the construction of a compelling, coherent environmental ethics will revise our ideas not only about nature but also about what it means to be human.
By bringing out the role of various anthropologies (how people conceive "humanness") and their relationship to their conceptions of nature, Peterson offers a new and necessary way to approach environmental ethics. She investigates these stories from both religion and science in search of a usable past and a more sustainable future.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 271-286) and index.
About the Author
Anna L. Peterson is Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Florida and author of Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion: Progressive Catholicism in El Salvador's Civil War (1997) and co-editor of the forthcoming Christianity, Social and and Globalization in the Americas(2001), with Manuel Vasquez and Philip Williams.
Table of Contents
2. Not of the World: Human Exceptionalism in Western Tradition
3. The Social Construction of Nature and Human Nature
4. The Relational Self: Asian Views of Nature and Human Nature
5. Person and Nature in Native American Worldviews
6. Relationships, Stories, and Feminist Ethics
7. Evolution, Ecology, and Ethics
8. In and Of the World: Toward a Chastened Constructionist Anthropology
9. Different Natures