Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 33, Issue 2, 2023

Environmental Philosophy as World Philosophy

Wang Hai-qin
Pages 255-271

The Role of the Glance in Overcoming the Disunity of Knowledge and Practice in Environmental Philosophy

Statistics show, that even though an ethical respect for nature is both widely advocated by current mainstream environmental philosophy and is increasingly publicly accepted, this is not enough to ensure the needed practical actions to protect and preserve the natural world and its living beings. This reflects a disconnection between the related intellectual or theoretical appreciation of the integrity or value within the natural world and the sorts of practices needed to heal or to motivate the actions needed for ecological integrity and sustainability. Awareness of this disunity or disconnection calls for a philosophical examination of this disconnection. This paper argues that the disunity between knowledge and practice reflects a “blind spot” in those sorts of mainstream environmental philosophy that attempt to establish a rational basis for an ethical respect for nature and humans’ ethical responsibility to the environment. This paper shall reveal that blind spot and its origin by examining and building on Ed Casey’s analysis and phenomenological description of an original and authentic directly lived ethical response to the environment that he calls the “first moment of ethical response.” Casey’s description of this “first moment of ethical response,” rooted in his phenomenological horizon, allows him to break away from the horizon of current mainstream environmental ethics and uncover a field of original and authentic ethical experience that opens an area of investigation closed to current environmental ethics. In this way Casey’s work can reveal the limitations of the scientific horizon of mainstream environmental ethics and has great value in the overcoming of the blind spot and its ill effect.