Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1981

Abstract

Our attitudes and behavior toward nature and toward other forms of life are clearly in the forefront of contemporary ethical concern. It thus becomes necessary to examine critically the metaphysics which has traditionally grounded these attitudes. Unquestionably, the key feature of the dominant underlying conceptual scheme has been the positing of a clear-cut dichotomy between man and the natural world. For most of the Greeks, man is radically separated from nature- he lives in the realm of nomos, convention, somehow above the realm of physis, nature. He can reason, communicate, choose, create a social order, apprehend ultimate reality, and even remove himself by his own efforts from whatever vestiges of raw nature adhere to him by virtue of the fact that he inhabits a body. For the Jews, man was again set apart, and the rest of nature was given to him as a tool-chest- not to be abused, to be sure, but to be dealt with as something ready-at-hand. The Greek and the Hebrew fuse in Christianity, and an even greater wedge is driven between us and the world.

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