Anthropocentrism is the human-centered view of the universe. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, anthropocentrism is a view “centering in man; regarding man as the central fact of the universe, to which all surrounding facts have reference.” Wikipedia defines this term as the view that humans are most important species on earth because humans have morals and values unlike all other living beings. Encyclopedia Britannica states that anthropocentrism is the philosophical view of human life being the most substantial of all life on earth, based on Western religions and viewpoints.
Though anthropocentrism has a religious origin, it is expressed in cultures universally. A common secular view is that the earth is owned by humans and we can do with it as we please. Some disputes against anthropocentrism are that humans depend on the environment to thrive; if it isn’t a healthy environment, humans can’t survive. Critics argue that humans can’t be the center of the universe because we wouldn’t be able to live without taking care of the environment or the environment caring for us.
One could draw anthropocentrism from the Book of Genesis in the bible. According to the bible, humans were created in the image of God to have dominion over the earth, things living and nonliving. The first book of the bible states that humans had the responsibility of naming the animals, which one could say implies a power or ownership over the animals.
"Anthropocentricism/ Anthropocentrism, n." Home : Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., 2016.
Web. 29 Jan. 2016.
"Anthropocentrism." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Jan. 2016. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.
Boslaugh, Sarah E. "Anthropocentrism | Philosophy." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 Jan. 2016. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.)
Anthropomorphism (Chris Sievers)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines anthropomorphism as the “Ascription of a human attribute or personality to anything impersonal or irrational”(Anthropomorphism). This definition is by and large uncontested. However, many critics dispute the efficacy of using anthropomorphism as a rhetorical device. Alexandra Horowitz at the University of California, for example, makes the point that instances of anthropomorphism carry a negative connotation and a typical reader will view “an ‘anthropomorphic’ characterization [as] an erroneous one: at best premature or incomplete, and at worst dangerously misleading”(Horowitz).
More often, though, anthropomorphism is used as an effective tool that allows a reader to imagine situations from another perspective. Some argue that anthropomorphism is inevitable when considering the experiences non-human objects or animals because we have no way to understand the world other than through what we can experience ourselves. For this reason, anthropomorphism plays a large role in environmental literature. Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees,” for instance, relies very heavily on the anthropomorphism of natural objects. In one line she writes about “A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast”(Kilmer). This exemplifies how anthropomorphism is often used in environmental literature to connect humans to nature and allow the reader to imagine the world from the perspective of a non-human object. Further reading of environmental literature will show countless more instances anthropomorphism such as this.
"Anthropomorphism." Def. 1b. Oxford English Dictionary. 2016. Xavier.edu. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. <http://www.oed.com.nocdbproxy.xavier.edu/view/Entry/8449?redirectedFrom=anthropomorphism&>.
Horowitz, Alexandra. "Anthropomorphism." Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships (2007): 60-66. Greenwood Publishing Group. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
Kilmer, Joyce. "Trees, by Joyce Kilmer." Trees, by Joyce Kilmer. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
Bioregionalism (Matthew Gibson)
A fancy name for “living a rooted life,” it calls for action over protest, lifestyle over legislation, and it is an ecological philosophy that advocates the belief that human activity is should be constrained by bioregional (rather than political) boundaries along with individuals being aware of ecology, economy and culture of the place where you live and are committed to making choices that enhance them.
Bioregionalism is a fairly new term. According to Peter Berg and the Oxford English Dictionary, this term was established in the early 1970s. Bioregionalism does not have a specific definition. In fact, according to the Oxford English dictionary, human activity (food production) should be regulated by the environment and not government. On the other hand, Peter Berg believes that within bioregionalism the environment calls for action over protest, and lifestyle over government. Compared to another argument, made by the Living Awareness Institute, they believe that within bioregionalism, humans should be aware of ecology, economy and culture of the place where they live, and they should be committed to making choices that enhance them.
Appearance of the word (books): “Origins of Gardening & Farming,” “Garbage,” M. Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
Conservationism (Theresa Mokrzan, Matthew Mockensturm)
Conservationism has its root in the word conservation which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the “preservation of life, health, perfection, etc.; (also) preservation from destructive influences, natural decay, or waste.” To put this into simpler terms, conservation is protecting something from being harmed or depleted. Conservationism is simply a movement towards conservation. This manifests itself in several ways including movements to preserve historical artifacts and monuments, and also the movement to take care of natural resources. Our definition will focus on the conservation of nature movement.
Throughout most of the 19th century, people were wastefully exploiting natural resources, with the mindset that there were unlimited resources. Conservationalists stepped in and advocated for federal monitoring of natural resources so that future generations would be able to use them as well. The idea of preserving nature also appears in a separate movement called Environmentalism. It is important to note that while there is some overlap with the actions taken by these groups, some argue a distinction can be made. Ultimately, the debate is about the motive for preservation. It is argued that the conservationalist movement in the United States is preserving natural life for humanity’s sake, rather than for its own sake. This view of conservationism stems from a critique on capitalism, because it ties a value to nature as a product that can be exchanged for other value instruments. This view also relies on the capitalist mindset because it constantly relies on innovation of efficiency to fill humanity’s need for goods while still preserving resources. Although ultimately conservationalist motives may be rooted in capitalism, they still advocate for environmental protection by eliminating wasteful practices and limiting the depletion of natural resources.
Deep Ecology (Tony Pereira, John Cataldo)
Deep ecology can be defined as an environmental movement that thinks of humans as equal to every other organism in the world (OED) Deep ecology is about seeing ourselves as part of earth so we can have a deeper connection with the life itself. Humans are no greater or lesser than the world and its environment (the green fuse). In 1973, a Norwegian Philosopher and Mountaineer by the name of Arne Naess introduced this phrase “deep ecology” to environmental literature. When Naess went to the Third World Future Research Conference he gave a presentation that “discussed the longer-range background of the ecology movement and its concern with an ethic respecting nature and the inherent worth of other beings”. This is where the real birth a deep ecology comes from. He also presented two different forms of deep ecology, “long-range deep ecology movement” and the other, the “shallow ecology movement.”. He used the “deep” to mean and refer to the heavy level of questioning we should explore when it comes to our purposes and values when arguing in environmental conflicts. Additionally, he offered up a definition that is all about respecting the intrinsic values of richness and diversity. This in turn leads us to a critique of industrial culture, whose developmental models construe the Earth only as something that is to be viewed and looked at as raw materials to be used for our own consumption.
One dispute of Deep Ecology is called Social Ecology. Social Ecology is the belief that the reason why we have ecological problems is because of humans trying to attacking each other. Because of this, the environment has suffered greatly. A big difference between the two is that deep ecology focuses more on philosophical questions like ‘Why do we want to dominate nature’? Social ecology also gives humans more credit saying we’re the most advanced life form ever created and we have the power to change things for good or bad.. Deep ecology says that everything in the world has equal value and humans shouldn’t think themselves as better than the world around us (social ecology). Anthropocentrism is another belief that goes against deep ecology. Anthropocentrism is the belief that humans are and should be the center of the universe.
One way deep ecology could come up in our everyday lives is when a big ecological crises come up like an oil spill. News shows like CNN, Fox, and NBC could get people that believe in deep ecology, to talk about the oil spill. Deep ecology could also show up in movies and art. You can tell if an artist believes in deep ecology if they paint nature as beautiful and wonderful. They could also have humans in the painting but very small to show that we’re not bigger than nature.
Ecocentrism is an ecological political philosophy term used to portray a nature centered world. Ecocentrism challenges the western anthropocentric notion that the world revolves around humans, and nature is just a means for human advancement. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ecocentrism means “environmental concerns taking precedence over the need and rights of human beings considered in isolation” (OED). Human beings take a back seat to nature, which is an attitude that is not popular among common people today. Ecocentric art tends to invoke attitudes of beauty and awe when depicting nature.
Ecocentrism can be found in a lot of literature and art. According to Robyn Eckersley, Ecocentrism provokes a “sense of compassion for the fate of other life-forms (both human and nonhuman) and a keener appreciation of the fact that many of our activities are likely to have arrange of unforeseen consequences for ourselves and other life forms” (Environmentalism). Enviornmental problems are a legitimate problem in our world today that people cannot seem to fix.
Often times ecocentrism is confused with biocentrism, which is the locating of intrinsic value of animals and plants but as individual organisms. Biocentrists believe that species are only collections of individual organisms so similarly, ecosystems are only collections of individual organisms while ecocentrists believe in locating the intrinsic value of more than just the individual organism. While these two are often confused for one another, they are distinctly different. Ecocentrists also face other issues besides the misunderstanding. For example, “ecocentrists might need to worry about getting their metaphysics from biology and ecology. There is controversy over how to define a species and whether species are natural kinds or simply human-imposed categories.” (University of San Diego). Finally, “ecocentrists might fall prey to what philosophers call the naturalistic fallacy – a mistake in reasoning when trying to derive value from natural facts. For example, just because a species exist (fact) it does not follow that species have a value or ought to exist” (University of San Diego).
Ecocentrism: University San Diego
Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach by Robyn Eckersley
Oxford English Dictionary: Ecocentrism
Ecocriticism (Alex Smithers)
Ecocriticism is when readers analyze a text with the intent of analyzing the environmental concerns and how the text treats nature along with how nature is portrayed. Ecocritics also look at the role that nature plays in the text and the relationship it shares with humans, along with how humans interact with nature. There is not much dispute when it comes to the definition of ecocriticism so “the common ground on which all strands of ecocriticism stand is the assumption that the ideas and structures of desire which govern the interactions between humans and their natural environment… are of central importance if we are to get a handle on our ecological predicament” (Bergthaller).
We have already analyzed a text in class through an ecocritics lens, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth. Looking at the relationship between the man in the poem and how he views nature’s beauty. We analyzed the interactions the man in the poem had with nature, more specifically the daffodils and saw how he respected nature’s beauty and then reminisced on said beauty.
Environmental Justice (Moira Smith)
All citizens, regardless of socioeconomic class and ethnicity, should be involved and abiding to environmental laws, regulations, and policies. The definition of environmental justices is widely debated, and the details of the specifics can be different to everyone. Many arguments made revolve around the idea that those who live in better neighborhoods pay for that environment and expect little to no visible pollution. In response to this, many people point out the fact that some people are unable to pay for these environments, and should not be denied basic health standards that would be compromised by pollution. Basically, it is the idea that people of poverty receive the negative effects of pollution and environmental regulation more than those with money. For example, there are more landfills and polluting industries in areas of poverty, and jobs of those in poverty are often more subjected to toxicants. The Environmental Justice Movement has been in the works since the early 1960s. People that do not have the ability to get higher paying jobs or move neighbors found it unfair that their environment was more polluted than other neighbors. Since there is a higher minority population in low income neighborhoods, environmental justice is associated with environmental racism.
Human Ecology (Alex Burnett)
Human ecology is the study of the relationship between humans and their natural social and physical environments. It is the nature of the human race and humans belonging to that species. Being human is defined as having the characteristic of people and not of animal, and ecology is defined as the biology that deals with relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. Ecology is also considered to be something that protects the environment. Human ecology is the biological study of human communities and populations as concerned with protecting the environmental quality through applying appropriate conservation and civil engineering practices. A theory of human ecology is a way of looking at the interactions of humans with their environments and considering this relationship as a system. Even though the definition seems it could be stable and simple, it is new and devolving to help us realize how the natural and human created environments affect how we act and what we do. Human and nature are to be viewed as one in this case. Ecology comes from the Greek root meaning home, which helps to understand how humans react in their “home”, their surroundings.
"Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years." Home : Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
Nature writing (Alex Roberts, Justin Lee)
Nature Writing is a general term usually used to describe a genre if writing that is about the natural environment. Some think the term is only used to describe poetry, nonfiction, and fiction prose, and others think it can describe all kinds of writing that involve the natural environment. Wordsworth, a famous poet of the 18th century, and other famous poets of that time, went to nature for inspiration of their poems and have since then helped form a characteristic note in modern verse, nature writing. Today, nature writing is not just poetry but any genre of writing that often draws inspiration from scientific information and facts about the natural world. It can range from definite scientific facts about nature to philosophical views about the natural world. A website solely dedicated to nature writing today says, “Nature writing begins with observation. Nature writing records what the writer has seen and seen again. It may begin with a casual, serendipitous occurrence, but it moves far beyond the casual to record details noticeable only by those who have looked deeply. Nature writing often adds to personal observation the observations and experiences of others. Nature writing is concerned with what scientists have discovered, but the focus always returns to the personal observations of the writer. The writer is part of the natural world and draws the reader into that world, too.
Pastoral (Nick Zenger, Connor Crory)
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Pastoral is “a person or thing associated with spiritual care.” Pastoral is a type of literature that employs different techniques to place a complex life into a simple one. Pastoral literature occurs in a variety of poetry and dramas, as well as many different genres. Pastoral literature tends to hold a special perspective towards natures. Terry Gifford, a pastoral literature theorist, defines pastoral into three different ways. First way he defines it as the perspective of the pastoral discussing life in the country and in particular life of a shepherd. The second way is literature that “describes the country with an implicit or explicit contrast to the urban.” The third way depicts the country life with derogative classifications. Pastoral poems tend to be located in breathtaking rural landscapes often in rural regions of Greece.
"Pastoral." Home : Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
"Pastoral." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
Preservationism (Matthew Deegan)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines Preservationism as “the practice or advocacy of preservation.” Preservation is the idea to preserve or repair what is in existence that of which is decaying, damaged or from being completely destroyed. When someone uses the word preservationism they could be talking about two different things. The first meaning being used talks about preserving the natural beauty of the world from wildlife, natural areas and resources. The second meaning used talks about preserving the beauty of the human world, human made things such as historical places, buildings, or works of art.
Preservationism in the world today is a political movement that wants people and governments around the world to start protecting the environment. One big driver of preservationists is the fact that we are starting to see the effects that humans have had on the world and how it has effected the environment negatively. They want to preserve the world for themselves and for future generations. They want governments to set aside land that is protected, preserving wildlife, air, water, etc. Preservationists want the government to enact laws that force companies to reduce their waste and emissions and they want to turn away from fossil fuels to green energy like solar and wind.
"Preservationist." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Dec. 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
"Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years." Home : Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.
Romanticism (Lisa Ottum)
Romanticism is a political, social, and cultural movement that transpired first in Europe (from the late 1700s-1830s) and then later in America (to about 1860). The French Revolution is often cited as the beginning of Romanticism, however, its exact dates are contested; while some scholars associate it with political revolution, others emphasize its cultural and aesthetic dimensions (Wu). Often, Romanticism is often seen as a broad reaction to the Enlightenment, and/or to various forms of modernization across Europe, such as industrialization.
Romantic art is characterized by certain themes and patterns. As the Oxford English Dictionary notes, the term Romantic is sometimes contrasted with the term “Classical”; whereas classical art favors proportion, symmetry, and order, Romantic art emphasizes emotions, sublimity, and scale (OED). The grandeur and beauty of nature, especially “wild” nature, is a key theme in Romantic art and literature: many famous Romantic poems, for example, focus on individuals’ deeply-felt encounters with landscapes, animals, and natural phenomena. For this reason, British and American Romanticism is the subject of many ecocritical studies: James McKusick, Lawrence Buell, and others argue that Romanticism was key to the development of modern environmentalism (McKusick).
McKusick, James. “Introduction.” Romanticism and Ecology. Romantic Circles, 2001. Web. 29
"romanticism, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2015. Web. 17 January
Wu, Duncan. “Introduction.” In Romanticism: An Anthology. Ed. Duncan Wu. 4th ed. Malden,
MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2012. Print.
Speciesism (Allie Matuzak, Emily Kribbs)
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Speciesism is defined as the “discrimination against or exploitation of certain animal species by human beings, based on an assumption of mankind’s superiority. Wikipedia states that Speciesism “involves the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely based on their species membership”. Speciesism is based on the belief that one animal species is above another. Typically this term is used in regards to mankind in which the human species believes that it is superior in comparison to any of type of animal. Speciesism and the arguments behind it are supported primarily by prejudice. The term itself first appeared in a privately printed pamphlet in 1970, written by a British psychologist Richard D. Ryder. The purpose of this pamphlet, titled “Speciesism”, was to protest against animal experimentation. Ryder argued that scientist like Darwin “have agreed that there is no ‘magical’ essential difference between humans and other animals, biologically speaking.”
Often times this term is used when referring to animals’ rights and how they contrast to humans’ rights. It raises the question as to why it’s alright to test on animals but not on humans. BBC answers that question by defining Speciesism as “the idea that being human is good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral right than non-human animals”. Many people believe that humans are superior to other non-human animals simply because we can communicate through, what we believe is, a more intellectual way than other species. Some argue that because we have evolved to a more advanced level technology we, therefore, should have more rights. Supporters say that there is a clear difference between humans and others species, and that this difference should affect our moral status. Opponents of speciesism argue that it is discrimination and bias based on our needs to improve.
Sustainability (Connor Scherer, Harrison Lioce)
Sustainability is a concern or regard for the world and its social, environmental, and economic preservation through the use of resources which do not compromise future generations. This term however can be broken down into three different facets that are commonly referred to in today’s society.
“Social Sustainability” relates to a country or culture’s ability to continuously promote an “optimized quality of life” (thwink.corg). However, there is often global discrepancy as to what a happy life is, leading to war, political parties, and other forms of cultural separation. Society therefore, cannot continue on happily if war and disagreement are common events. Therefore, Social Sustainability is considered the least achievable or weakest of the three aspects, as most of today's world is not living in harmony.
“Economic Sustainability” can be defined as a country or cultures ability to actively control their poverty rate. This means avoiding poverty in general and controlling the number of people living below what is considered the standard for living within that country or region. Currently, the global poverty rate continually rises, which if not fixed, could have drastic consequences for future populations.
Most familiar is “Environmental Sustainability,” which refers to the preservation of the environment for future generations through the use of renewable resources, as well as the reduction of the world's pollution and use of non-renewable resources. As of recent, Environmental Sustainability’s “green movement” has gained global attention through its alternative forms of energy, design, and overall lifestyle. Environmental Sustainability uses new advances in clean energy (wind, solar, and water) to combat climate change, global warming, and other man-made threats to our environment.
Sustainable art and literature are thought provoking fields that lead its followers to question their relationship to the earth. Particularly, Sustainable art attempts to see past the hierarchy where humans often reside atop of, and instead leads people to see everything as equal. With this in mind, Sustainable art and literature encourage individuals to be open to the lifestyles of Social, Environmental, and Economic Sustainability in order to save our earth.