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Darwinism: Towards a non-anthropocentric paradigm?

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Mathieu Munsch

on 12 December 2012

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Transcript of Darwinism: Towards a non-anthropocentric paradigm?

Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Paradigm? Darwinism: Anthropocentric paradigm? duh... anthropocentrism anthropo- (greek: anthrōpos):
man, human being -centrism:
tendency to put something as the center of attention paradigm: a system of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality. Aim of this research: -To rethink antropocentrism as a social construct -To give an overview of how our ethics concerning our environment have (or have not) changed since Darwin -To show that an idea alone is not enough to challenge a practice Way to do so: Structure I. (Very) brief overview of anthropocentrism in European philosophy and theoretical implications of Darwin's theory of evolution

II. Reframing of Darwin's theory

III. Anthropocentrism in contemporary history: a paradigm-shift in progress? History of anthropocentric thinking Ancient Greece Socrates, in a dialogue with Euthydemus:
"Tell me, Euthydemus, has it ever occurred to you to reflect on the care the gods have taken to furnish man with what he needs? [...] Now seeing that we need food, think how they make the earth to yield it, and provide to that end appropriate seasons which furnish in abundance the diverse things that minister not only to our wants but to our enjoyment." Christianity Book of Genesis, verse 1:26:
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." History of anthropocentric thinking Descartes Body/mind dualism:
Animals - who don't possess a mind - are purely mechanical beings, and are therefore unable to feel pain Hendrick Goltzius, Seated Monkey on a Chain. c. 1595-1600 Darwin's theory of evolution 'On the Origin of Species', 1859

Replacement of Man within the natural realm by acknowledging the common ancestry between humans and non-humans Structure I. (Very) brief overview of anthropocentrism in European philosophy and theoretical implications of Darwin's theory of evolution II. Reframing of Darwin's theory

III. Anthropocentrism in contemporary history: a paradigm-shift in progress? Structure I. (Very) brief overview of anthropocentrism in European philosophy and theoretical implications of Darwin's theory of evolution III. Anthropocentrism in contemporary history: a paradigm-shift in progress? II. Reframing of Darwin's theory Great Chain of Being Perpetuation of the belief in linearity and progress Pre-Darwinian Chain of Being New Chain of Being In search of a missing link If man is an improvement of the ape, then there must be a half ape/half human species Eugenics This linear view of man, coupled with knowledge of the processes of genetic inheritance led to misuses of the theory for the purpose of engineering society according to certain criteria. Aftermath of WWII Darwin's theories lost their appeal, as they became associated with Eugenics policies.

Revival of the Cartesian view of the human soul - the definition of a core humanity that unites us and distinguish us from the natural realm. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." Structure I. (Very) brief overview of anthropocentrism in European philosophy and theoretical implications of Darwin's theory of evolution III. Anthropocentrism in contemporary history: a paradigm-shift in progress? II. Reframing of Darwin's theory Breakthroughs in sciences and technology Our new knowledge of the natural world has forced us to question, once again, our place within it. Is our 'world dominance' an illusion produced by our anthropocentric bias? A change a perspective allow us to shed new lights on a seemingly clear-cut situation and to overcome our dominant/dominee paradigm. Environmental awareness We have gained consciousness of our destructive impact on our environment. Yet, this doesn't necessarily imply a shift in paradigm. Environmental awareness Conflicting responses Holistic worldviews Rooted in Darwinism, drawing from Eastern philosophies and focused on the well-being of ecosystems as wholes by drawing the links between all its individual components. Enlightened Anthropocentrism Perpetrates the dualistic worldview that nature is an object that exists to serve our needs.
Invests Man of the mission of 'rightful keeper of nature'
Uses comparable human attributes to determine the value of nonhuman species. Sustainable development strategy of the EU:
"Sustainable Development stands for meeting the needs of present generation without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" Conclusion Our understanding of the natural world has greatly improved since Darwin.
As the reframing of Darwin's theories show, knowledge itself may not be sufficient to change a long-established tradition of thinking.
Our views on how to interact with our environment conflict with the contemporary global problems: a paradigm-shift in process?
The challenges of the future will undeniably go beyond the scope of humanity. In order to deal with a pending global catastrophe, we will need to displace the human subject from the center of our concerns. -To question the capacity of such a man-centered model of thinking to deal with current global issues
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