The Philosophy of Social Ecology : Essays on Dialectical Naturalism

By Murray Bookchin

Entry 5018

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(1921 - 2006)

Father of Social Ecology and Anarcho-Communalism

: Growing up in the era of traditional proletarian socialism, with its working-class insurrections and struggles against classical fascism, as an adult he helped start the ecology movement, embraced the feminist movement as antihierarchical, and developed his own democratic, communalist politics. (From: Anarchy Archives.)
• "Broader movements and issues are now on the horizon of modern society that, while they must necessarily involve workers, require a perspective that is larger than the factory, trade union, and a proletarian orientation." (From: "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Book....)
• "The social view of humanity, namely that of social ecology, focuses primarily on the historic emergence of hierarchy and the need to eliminate hierarchical relationships." (From: "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bo....)
• "...real growth occurs exactly when people have different views and confront each other in order to creatively arrive at more advanced levels of truth -- not adopt a low common denominator of ideas that is 'acceptable' to everyone but actually satisfies no one in the long run. Truth is achieved through dialogue and, yes, harsh disputes -- not by a deadening homogeneity and a bleak silence that ultimately turns bland 'ideas' into rigid dogmas." (From: "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bo....)

Chapters

8 Chapters | 57,563 Words | 384,790 Characters

Dedication For Janet Biehl, dearest of companions and closest of colleagues (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Preface to the Second Edition This edition of The Philosophy of Social Ecology has been so radically revised and corrected that in many respects it is a new book. I have retained in most of their essentials the essays that appeared in the first edition, but I have significantly altered many of my original formulations. I have also added a new essay, “History, Civilization, and Progress” written early in 1994, which critically examines in general terms the social and ethical relativism so much in vogue today. Most of the essays in this book were written as polemics, directed against various tendencies that surfaced in the American ecology movement in the 1980s. “Toward a Philosophy of Nature,” published in Michael... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Introduction: A Philosophical Naturalism What is nature? What is humanity’s place in nature? And what is the relationship of society to the natural world? In an era of ecological breakdown, answering these questions has become of momentous importance for our everyday lives and for the future that we and other life-forms face. They are not abstract philosophical questions that should be relegated to a remote, airy world of metaphysical speculation. Nor can we answer them in an offhand way, with poetic metaphors or unthinking, visceral reactions. The definitions and ethical standards with which we respond to them may ultimately decide whether human society will creatively foster natural evolution, or whether we will render the pl... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Toward a Philosophy of Nature: The Bases for an Ecological Ethics [6] Few philosophical areas have gained the social relevance in recent years that nature philosophy, with all its ethical implications, has acquired. A considerable segment of the literate public is now deeply occupied with seeking a philosophical interpretation of nature as a grounding for human conduct and social policy. The literature on the subject has reached truly impressive proportions and has collected a sizable public readership. In fact, it is fair to say that this interest in nature philosophy is comparable to that which Darwinian evolutionary theory generated a century ago — and it is almost equally disputatious, with equally important social implicati... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Freedom and Necessity in Nature: A Problem in Ecological Ethics[40] One of the most entrenched ideas in Western thought is the notion that nature is a harsh realm of necessity, a domain of unrelenting lawfulness and compulsion. From this underlying idea, two extreme attitudes have emerged. Either humanity must yield with religious or “ecological” humility to the dicta of “natural law” and take its abject place side by side with the lowly ants on which it “arrogantly” treads, or it must “conquer” nature by means of its technological and rational astuteness, in a shared project ultimately to “liberate” all of humanity from the compulsion of natural “necessity” &mdas... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Thinking Ecologically: A Dialectical Approach [48] In a time of sweeping social breakdown and intellectual fragmentation, it is not surprising to find that patchwork eclecticism and ideological faddism are seriously corroding the very notion of coherent thinking. Although such ideological deterioration has occurred in earlier periods of social decay, one might have hoped that ecological thinking — with its emphasis on the organic, the holistic, and the developmental — would have provided an ideological terrain from which we could resist the general fragmentation of our times. Tragically, this hope has not been fulfilled. Many contemporary ecophilosophies, in fact, far from countering the trend toward eclecticism and faddis... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism I Rarely have the concepts that literally define the best of Western culture — its notions of a meaningful History, a universal Civilization, and the possibility of Progress — been called so radically into question as they are today. In recent decades, both in the United States and abroad, the academy and a subculture of self-styled postmodernist intellectuals have nourished an entirely new ensemble of cultural conventions that stem from a corrosive social, political, and moral relativism. This ensemble encompasses a crude nominalism, pluralism, and skepticism, an extreme subjectivism, and even outright nihilism and antihumanism in various... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
[1] The notion of a unilinear social development, like the one Friedrich Engels presented in Anti-Duhring, had already fallen into considerable disrepute among serious Marxists in the first half of this century, as I myself recall. One of the most troubling problems with this notion, I should note, was the “transition” from feudalism to capitalism. For my own part, I clearly challenged the idea that capitalism was the “inevitable” successor of feudalism in Urbanization Without Cities. There I argued that capitalism, from the fourteenth century until well into the eighteenth and early nineteenth, was merely part of “a mixed economy which was neither feudal, capitalist, nor structured around simple commodity prod... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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