BEYOND THE BIFURCATION OF NATURE: A COMMON WORLD FOR ANIMALS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The view that human beings are the center of the natural world was characteristic of the modern period. This anthropocentrism was part of a bifurcation of nature in which only human beings were intrinsically valuable. The remaining “nonhuman” world existed to fulfill human purposes. But it is now quite common to find anthropocentrism and the bifurcation of nature criticized, if not fundamentally undermined. Indeed, the ecological crises facing the environment and animals requires such criticism.
Once anthropocentrism is destabilized, however, several questions arise: Is there any sense in which there is a defensible hierarchy of life forms or should the matrix of life be “flattened out” completely? To what extent is the bifurcation of nature the result of traditional philosophical and theological concepts and to what extent, if any, can these concepts point the way toward a more defensible view of nature and animal life? Finally, what role, if any, can philosophy and theology play in the realm of public opinion, discourse, and consumer culture? These and other related questions will be discussed at this interdisciplinary and interreligious conference.
Conference Chairs: Dan Dombrowski and Brianne Donaldson
Communications Coordinator: Clemette Haskins