In this paper, first, I examine the theological foundation of “integral ecology” in Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si’.Integral ecology is a comprehensive vision of man grounded in the threefold relationships that are constitutive of his humanity, namely, first, man’s relationship with the Triune God, and, consequently, his relation with his fellow humans, as well as his relationship to the whole of creation, which includes not only nature (the earth), but the full spectrum of culture, that is, marriage, family, schools, art, literature, and architecture, the economy, human relationships, human work, housing, urban planning and others. Ecology in this sense is about integral human development. Thus, man’s care for himself includes his care for all these aspects of his humanity that will promote authentic human flourishing.
Second, I examine Francis’ critique of a “tyrannical anthropocentrism” (LS §68), an “excessive [or] misguided anthropocentrism” (§116, §119), justifying an “absolute domination over other creatures” (LS §67; §82).This misguided anthropocentrism has intellectual roots of a metaphysical, anthropological, and epistemological nature, and Pope Francis endeavors to uncover those roots in what he calls “the dominant technocratic paradigm” (LS §101). Metaphysical because this paradigm is anti-realist, denying the logos-structure to reality, its enduring forms, disregarding “the message contained in the structures of nature itself” (LS §117), and, indeed, in the “‘ecology of man’ [that is] based on the fact that ‘man too has a nature that he must respect and thus he cannot manipulate at will’ [Pope Benedict XVI]” (LS §155). Epistemological because the primary stance of man to reality “has become confrontational” and hence “exploitative of the natural order” (LS §106). Francis is critical of the reductionism in that paradigm: the human person is reduced to a controller of reality, exercising not just stewardship over nature but domination; knowledge is reduced to the method of science, one-dimensional in that sense; and reality is “formless, completely open to manipulation.” Anthropological because man is understood, not as a responsible steward of reality, but rather as a dominator over reality, which is a stance that fails to respect not only the “logos-structure” of reality, its intrinsic dignity, but also man’s own nature, including his bodied person, “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity . . . if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different” (LS §155).In this connection, we can see the necessity for an “integral ecology” (LS §137).
In sum, integral ecology pertains to man’s transcendence over nature, the interconnection of all things (LS §76, §86), the rightful, law-governed autonomy of all things (LS §71, §80), the enduring structures of creation (LS §117), with each being having its own inherent form (§84), indeed, the world’s form has a “logos-structure” (LS §99; §155), the common good (LS §156; §157), the moral law (§155), and the depth dimension of God’s divine presence in the unfolding of creation, “which ensures the subsistence and growth of each being, [and] continues the work of creation” (LS §80).
- Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, Encyclical Letter, May 24, 2015. Online: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html.
- Louis Dupré, Passage to Modernity:An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1993).
- Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966).
- Pope John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996. Online: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/es/messages/pont_messages/1996/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19961022_evoluzione.html.
- Pope Benedict XVI, The Garden of God, Toward a Human Ecology, With a Foreword by Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2014).
Sustainability has become a fashionable term mostly used to describe ideal states of affairs and set goals in the political, economic, social and technological spheres than actual realities. Surely, its widespread use has enriched the term semantically. However, at this stage it is absolutely necessary to clarify what it actually means in order to assert its world-disclosing and world-transforming potential, which is currently at risk of getting diffuse and entirely irrelevant.
In this paper we will explore the interrelation between history, language and ethics entailed by the discourses on sustainability, by reflecting on its conceptual history and metaphorical universe.In other words, we will be posing the question as to how its political, economic and social conceptual history has contributed to an ethics of sustainable development.Such study is keyto any attempt at specifying its meaning as wells as outlining ethical guidelines for present and future courses of action. To this end, we will also discuss the “strong” and “weak” uses of the term sustainability as analysed by the German environmental philosopher Konrad Ott, on the one hand. On the other hand, we will consider the ethical implications of the extent to which life has become “green”.
Blumenberg, H., Las realidades en que vivimos (Barcelona: Paidós, 1999)
Koselleck, R., Los estratos del tiempo: estudios sobre la historia (Barcelona: Paidós, 2001)
Ott, K., Umweltethik (Hamburg:Junius, 2010)
Skinner, Q., Visions of Politics (Cambridge: CUP, 2002)
Prof. Dr. Maarten Verkerk – To a Sustainable World?
Philosophical Considerations on the Future of our Energy System
The supply of sustainable energy is one of the greatest challenges modern society faces (Veer, 2014). On the one hand, traditional sources like oil, coal, and gas are limited, polluting , and contribute to the heating of the earth. On the other and, nuclear energy remains disputed, because of safety concerns and the problem of radioactive waste. Governments, universities and industries are cooperating intensively to develop sustainable energy sources that will meet future requirements.
Many sustainable sources, such as sun, wind, and hydro energy produce energy in the form of electricity. A great advantage of our electric energy supply is that it can be transported easily over large distances. It is widely recognized that the development and integration of sustainable sources also requires innovation in the associated technologies like transmission, distribution and energy storage systems.
In this paper we will explore the challenge of the future of our energy system. This exploration will be done in a number of steps. First, we will address the scale of the global energy system. We will show that the energy system is so huge that a transition to renewable energy takes many decades. Secondly, we will explore the potential of sustainable sources. We will argue that a mix of renewable resources have to be developed. On short term, solar and wind energy are most promising. Finally, we will discuss the various models that are used to understand the future of our energy system. We will show that these models are dominated by a technological and economical perspective. We will propose an alternative model, the so-called Triple I model, to understand the dynamics and politics towards a sustainable world.
The normative practice model as developed by Jochemsen, Glas, Hoogland, Verkerk and others (Jochemsen & Glas, 1997; Jochemsen, 2006; Verkerk, Hoogland, Van der Stoep, and De Vries, 2016)is very supportive to understand the work of professionals but falls short in understanding complex societal processes. Verkerk (2014) has developed a variant, the co-called Triple I model, that does justice to the organizational embedding of professional practices. The first ‘I’ of this model represents the ‘identity’ or ‘intrinsic values’ of the primary process, the second ‘I’ the ‘inclusion of the justified interests of stakeholders’, and the third ‘I’ the ‘ideals, dreams and values’ of individuals, organizations, and cultures. In this paper we will show that a further development of the Triple I model is very promising in understanding and questioning the future of our energy system.
Jochemsen, H. &Glas, G., 1997, Responsible medical care (in Dutch), Buijten&Schipperheijn: Amsterdam.
Jochemsen, H., 2006, ‘Normative Practices as an Intermediate between Theoretical Ethics and Morality’, Philosophia Reformata 71:96–112.
Veer, J. van den, 2014, ‘Postcript on the future of energy’, in Van den Breemen, H. et al. , 2014, Breakthrough – From Innovation to Impact, Lunteren, Owls Foundation, p119-131.
Verkerk, M.J., 2014, ‘A philosophy-based “toolbox” for designing technology: The conceptual power of Dooyeweerdian philosophy’, Koers – Bulletin for Christian Scholarship 79(3), Art. #2164, 7 pages. http:// dx.doi.org/10.4102/koers. v79i3.2164
Verkerk, M.J., Hoogland, J., Stoep, J. van der, Vries, M. de, 2016, Philosophy of Technology: an introduction for technology and business students, London, Routledge.