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Ecology as New Enlightenment

Scientific rationalism and technological domination have led us to the brink of climate catastrophe. Unless we embrace a new, incipient ethos that places ecology and care at its core, our civilization will not survive, much less continue to flourish.

PARIS – Enlightenment ideas of scientific rationalism and technological domination have led us to the edge of an abyss. Unless we embrace a new Enlightenment – one that places ecology and care at its core – we will have no way back.

The Enlightenment that took root in eighteenth-century Europe cast aside old norms and held out the promise of a limitless future. Individuals came to believe that they were free to take charge of their destinies and emancipate themselves from the bonds of religion, tradition, and nature. Rationality would liberate them from prejudice and scarcity, ushering in a new world of peaceful abundance, equality, and universal human rights.

The experience of the twentieth century suggests that this vision, while commendable in many respects, was deeply flawed and bears some responsibility for a train of environmental degradation and industrial-scale murder. And the destructive logic of the false dualism of man and nature continues to threaten our civilization.

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