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The origin of beauty : a metaphysical foundation for ecophilosophy


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Griffin, JG 2007 , 'The origin of beauty : a metaphysical foundation for ecophilosophy', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Ecophilosophy is distinctive in its willingness to find a solution to the ecological crisis by engaging with the conceptual resources of the past. However, this thesis argues that the influence of the paradigm of modem science has prevented ecophilosophy from adequately assessing the significance of religion, and this has limited its potential. Hence, an appraisal of both the central principles of science that underpin environmental thought, and the central principles of religion is undertaken, in an attempt to further ecophilosophy's standing.
The perception of beauty recognised as a pre-rational response to nature is seen as an essential element in both environmentalism and the esoteric dimension of religion. Beauty is therefore utilized as a catalyst to reveal the limitations of environmental thought, the adverse ecological consequences of the scientific paradigm, and the importance of esoterism.
The demise of the quality beauty is linked to the emergence, after the Renaissance, of a historically anomalous 'metaphysical' system. The determining aspect of the new cosmology, ontology, and epistemology is identified as quantifcation the reducing of reality to a quantifiable state. The process of quantification has, it is argued, been responsible for the image we have of both ourselves and nature, and therefore our treatment of the world. One consequence of quantification has been an ecological viewpoint, which has, through guiding the emergence of an ecocentric outlook, been responsible for obscuring the traditional metaphysics, or Sophia.
A traditional metaphysics affirms a faculty of consciousness capable of transcending the subjectlobject divide, thus invalidating the quantifying approach to nature and reinstating the objective nature of qualities such as beauty. This thesis asserts that a traditional metaphysics validates the phenomenological experience of the beauty of nature, and suggests that nature itself may be used to transform our consciousness of nature. It concludes that an opportunity exists for ecophilosophy to extend its vision and, therefore, relevance by aligning itself with a system of thought adequate to the resolution of the ecological crisis.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Griffin, JG
Keywords: Aesthetics, Ecology, Environmentalism, Metaphysics, Nature conservation, Philosophy of nature
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Copyright 2007 the author

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