GB No. 4(23)/96


In Lech Ostasz's book titled "Ku etyce uniwersalistycznej i zarys teorii wartości" I found a compact and well written chapter titled: Ecological Problems and the Rights of Living Creatures. One feels hopeful while reading the following words: It is important to stress here, without going into details, that we care for the development of ethics free from any influences of political ideologies, religions, social establishment or pressure.

So let us follow the way of the author's settlements and philosophical considerations from which I intend to make a "patchwork of quotations".

A man is nature capable of thinking about itself. Therefore everything that he thinks about himself, how he cares for himself and what he generates within himself is directly manifested in his treatment of nature. It is something more than mutual conjunction. One may not protect the environment without intensive and subtle work with his consciousness and mentality; and, on the other hand, consciousness will not be creatively active and responsible if it does not integrate a man, if it does not care for his environment, respecting its balance and important inter-relations. Among inter-relations reaching or coming from deep inside, according to the author, we find an inexplicable, pre-reflexive consciousness in the broadest possible meaning of this word. It is crumbled in nature and at the same time is transformed into an individual - reflexive consciousness so characteristic for a man.(...) It is a mistake to take into consideration only a man to man relation, as it turns out to be too narrow and partial. What is more, if one wants to understand this relation and treat it satisfactorily, one should not limit himself to it, but consider the natural environment, present in the man and around him. And then (...) to find the right place for a man among other living creatures one should go beyond anthropocentrism and even humanism. Ethics, as such, should not make a man and other living creatures equal, as it is a man who creates ethics and thinks about the natural environment. The author names two attitudes in the discipline of ecology : the anthropocentric and the naturocentric ones.(...) For a man, himself, it is vital to understand that there will never be harmony between human beings and the nature they deal with every day. Then he mentions the rights of living creatures, the most important one among them being: the right to survive in accordance with predispositions and limits, resulting from their structure and natural context, and develops the topic titled Schemes of thinking about nature and the confrontation with animal treatment.(...) The scheme of "creating" the existence as a whole, as a ready-made object created by an assumed god(...) In our cultural circle this scheme was strongly advocated by Judaism and Christianity ( and a sort of confession ethics of a teocentric character) from its definition, ignoring nature and a man as its part.(...) "Being created" assumes the possibility of being a subject of manipulations. A man's behavior towards the rest of "creation" reflects the "creator's" behavior towards a man. In another place we can read: When the human species enlarges its population in a way that can be dangerous to the balance with other species, it becomes ethically vital to limit the number of its reproductions ( as seems to be the present situation ). Among other dangers for the environment, the author mentions the syndrome of a dustbin around a man, directly related to a man' s internal state and the degree of chaos within him. He also writes about disturbances in electromagnetic balance, about the mess and increasing "hum" on information channels, excessive acoustic stimuli and noise ( lack of silence ) as well as the littering of space surrounding the Earth.

What are, according to the author, the chances of counteractions against the destruction performed by men? There is a necessity to introduce many legal regulations which could be respected as ethical demands. For example, it is vital to stop the production and usage of chemicals which cannot be quickly introduced harmlessly into natural cycles of recycling; limits on the use of mechanical vehicles producing fumes ( not only in big cities ); limitations of felling woods by their owners; introduction of the limit of meat consumption for each person .(...) Any legal regulations concerning ecology (and not only it) should have a twofold character: preventive and compensating.

The readers of the book will have the possibility to compare their own opinions with the propositions and knowledge of the author.

To finish, I would like to refer to pre-reflexive consciousness mentioned by the author and per analogy, turn your attention to a concept of primary wisdom, also called clear mind or clear consciousness: or mind, such as it is, as developed in the spirituality of the Far East. This primary wisdom which cannot be expressed, is the nature of all things; staying away from any moral and legal procedures, scientific conventions, moral rules and even away from the space of art, closest to touching this unimaginative state. What I also lacked in Lech Ostasz's work was a mentioning, even a short one, of the newly-born interdiscipline of deep ecology. It still remains a new, multi-topic discipline. Deep ecology, which developed from the realm of sciences, and is enriched by the context of social experience, is contained implicitly in ideal and creative centers of great religions, particularly Buddhism.

Jerzy Oszelda
reprinted from Zielone Brygady, Feb. '96

GB No. 4(23)/96 | Contents