environmentalism plato

Eco-Republic:What the Ancients Can Teach Us about Ethics, Virtue, and Sustainable Living by Melissa Lane

In this provocative and accessible reflection on the potential contributions of Platonic political thought to the resolution of contemporary environmental problems, Lane (Princeton) attempts to craft “an intuitive and imaginative model inspired by the ancients” (p. 6).  As a work in political theory, the book offers new insights into Plato and contemporary debates regarding climate change as well. The book is divided into three coherent parts, each focusing on a central aspect of her interpretation. Part one is devoted to inertia, a critique of the limitation of our current approaches to everyday life and the environment. Instead of a simple refutation of current attitudes, Lane argues for improvement, suggesting the West can be “saved from itself” (p. 43). Part two addresses how an improvement in our thinking about politics and society through a revitalized imagination can help offer new approaches to resolving environmental dilemmas. Her use and explication of a moral imagination would have benefited greatly from the integration of the work of a greater variety of theorists. Lane’s erudite integration of Plato’s Republic is a significant accomplishment. Part three deals with initiative, or how we can respond to change. Lane argues that we must change, but how we respond to the change is the most important consideration.

Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

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3 replies to this post
  1. All,

    If you want a cleaner world, influence the market by making choices that reflect your desire. Reduce greenhouse gases by purchasing a small car. Reduce energy consumption by going for the 30-inch instead of the 52-inch TV. When fall comes, use a rake instead of a leaf-blower. Personal choices will go much farther than government toward improving the environment.

    Respectfully,

    Ken

    P.S. No environmental crisis will make me switch from conventional to swirly light bulbs. Ugly look, ugly light. Everyone has his non-negotiables.

  2. I consider myself a conservationist. I believe it is crucial with the size of the world population to conserve and make good use of what we have. However I reject the notion the CO2 is a pollutant that brings horror to our planet. Without CO2 life on Earth would not exist. I suggest rather than focus on CO2 that we focus more on use of the resources we have and create inventive ideas to bring clean water to parts of the world where it is almost impossible to get healthy drinking water. I don't believe we are in an environmental crisis. The Earth has a cycle that remains in play. The news media reports an increase in world temperatures yet when it cools to more traditional temperatures or the polar ice caps thicken to unprecidented levels the silence is deafening. And the size of your tv will make or break the Earth Mr Cote? Energy saving technology makes this arguemnt pointless. Usually tv's can run on almost the same amount of power. The amount of time that tv is on would be more of an issue given the American culture. The average American watches more tv in a week than they eat, sleep and (God forbid) pray. I think we need to shift from the cult of environmentalism (which hates capitalism and the free market) to that which conserves our resources and addresses the real crisis, a world shortage of food, clean water and resources. The world population isn't getting any smaller. I don't believe we are all going to burn up under the sun but I do believe our resources can dry up if we misuse what God has given. There lies our greatest challenge.

  3. I consider myself a conservationist. I believe it is crucial with the size of the world population to conserve and make good use of what we have. However I reject the notion the CO2 is a pollutant that brings horror to our planet. Without CO2 life on Earth would not exist. I suggest rather than focus on CO2 that we focus more on use of the resources we have and create inventive ideas to bring clean water to parts of the world where it is almost impossible to get healthy drinking water. I don't believe we are in an environmental crisis. The Earth has a cycle that remains in play. The news media reports an increase in world temperatures yet when it cools to more traditional temperatures or the polar ice caps thicken to unprecidented levels the silence is deafening. And the size of your tv will make or break the Earth Mr Cote? Energy saving technology makes this arguemnt pointless. Usually tv's can run on almost the same amount of power. The amount of time that tv is on would be more of an issue given the American culture. The average American watches more tv in a week than they eat, sleep and (God forbid) pray. I think we need to shift from the cult of environmentalism (which hates capitalism and the free market) to that which conserves our resources and addresses the real crisis, a world shortage of food, clean water and resources. The world population isn't getting any smaller. I don't believe we are all going to burn up under the sun but I do believe our resources can dry up if we misuse what God has given. There lies our greatest challenge.

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