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View Diary: Green Diary Rescue & Open Thread (161 comments)

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  •  As an ex-UU, (0+ / 0-)

    I always found that inference (the Seventh Principle supports environmentalism) hard to understand.

    There are of course many ways in which "all existence" is indeed connected in an "interdependent web." For example, physics holds that every bit of matter in the universe attracts every other bit, as described by powerful equations refined by Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, and many others.

    Now, what could it possibly mean to "respect" such arrangements and connections between unfeeling, uncaring inanimate objects? (The use of "all existence," rather than "our world" or something more understandably local is significant--as the result of that choice, the vast, vast majority of the referents of the Principle are billions of light years from Earth. Are conditions Way Out There really worthy of such deep concern?)

    When I exhale, I expel CO2 into the atmosphere, changing the concentrations of the gases in the room I'm in--and indeed in the Earth's atmosphere at large. I've changed the "interdependent web of all existence of which [I am] a part." Is that "disrespectful"?

    Indeed, every single thing that every single human being has done in human history--whether it's eating or excreting or signing the Clean Air Act or blasting off to the Moon or dumping toxic waste in rivers or walking out the door in the morning--has irrevocably changed "the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." How are any of the above "disrespectful" of that web in ways others aren't?

    The "interdependent web of all existence" shows no sign of caring--of being capable of caring--about anything at all that we do. If we enact all of the most worthwhile environmental policies imaginable (and follow them doggedly), the "web" won't--can't--care; it will continue long after we're gone. If we utterly abandon environmental concerns and pollute and scorch ourselves into extinction, the "web" won't--can't--care; it will keep grinding without any concern about us or anything for billions of years after humanity disappears.

    So what could it possibly mean to "respect" that totally inanimate (and unbreakable) "web"? Indeed, what could it possibly mean to "respect" any inanimate thing at all?

    Isn't the Seventh Principle just pretending that environmental concerns are an external teleological matter, when in fact they're all about maintaining the health and preferred status of us (a stupendously miniscule portion of "all existence") and a very small range of other elements of the "web" we care about?

    I submit that the Seventh Principle is bad poetry. Well meaning, and full of pretty language, but not really coherent.

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