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The self and the ecological : towards an integration of selfhood and environmental responsibility / Kenneth John Stockfeld Stockfeld, Kenneth John

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Stockfeld, Kenneth John
Ecological integrity.; Human ecology.; moral phenomenology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) It is not a new question as to whether there might be an ecological ethic. This study examines contemporary efforts to engage this question philosophically. These are found to assume some conception of environmental value, however the way in which it is conceived is seen to have significant implications for the role of philosophy in the question of how we might understand environmental responsibility. If this is to be understood in a substantial sense, thus as more than mere prudent self interest and therefore prompting genuine philosophical questions, then substantial questions about the nature of values and the process of valuing must be addressed. The study shows that addressing these questions requires that we address fundamental questions about the nature of the self, and the way in which the self is constituted by the process of engaging its fundamental goods and values. However, environmental responsibility is found to be something which cannot be understood in terms of a self which engages an environmental good. This is the contemporary notion of the ‘ecological self,’ and it is found to be untenable. It is shown that environmental responsibility, if it is to be tenable in a substantial sense, must be intrinsically part of being a self, such that the task of being environmentally responsible is integrally part of the task of being a self. Kierkegaard provides an account of selfhood as a task, and his account of the self is explored. Courting paradox, Kierkegaard challenges us to understand the self as essentially a matter of both immanence and transcendence. Understanding the self in this way is the means to accommodate the possibility that environmental responsibility is an integral part of selfhood, thus an immanent potential to be realised by the individual rather than something which must be grounded philosophically.
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