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Nature - Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times Peter Coates

Nature - Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times

Peter Coates

Published
ISBN : 9780745616551
Hardcover
246 pages
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 About the Book 

Every civilization has high ideals for personal and social conduct- every civilization regularly violates those ideals. So one might conclude after reading Peter Coatess wide-ranging study of environmental ethics in Western society, populated byMoreEvery civilization has high ideals for personal and social conduct- every civilization regularly violates those ideals. So one might conclude after reading Peter Coatess wide-ranging study of environmental ethics in Western society, populated by Roman women who cry at the death of beloved pet birds and lap dogs after watching humans being tortured in the Coliseum, by 19th-century travelers who exalt the virtues of so-called primitive societies while participating in their destruction. All cultures are susceptible to the error of mistreating the land, Coates argues. Citing the work of recent historical geographers, for example, he believes that the North American landscape bore more signs of the human presence before 1492 than it did in the mid-1700s, largely as a result of destructive Native American farming practices. He also notes that Chief Seattles famed speech (How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land?), one of the classics of environmental thought, was in truth the invention of an Anglo screenwriter in the 1970s. While questioning the usefulness of the widely held, Western sense of shame over the sins of the past, Coates does reckon that we have a long way to go in aligning our ethics with our practices in this age of biotechnology and widespread extinction. I am tempted, he writes, to conclude that no matter what shape our tomatoes and frogs assume, the polarity of nature and culture will endure a good deal longer. --Gregory McNamee