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Showing posts from August 29, 2010

Our logical leaps: monkey shines in the artificial paradise

The Lynn White thesis, advanced in his 1967 article, The Historical roots of our Ecological Crisis, is that Christianity provided a paradigm that allowed the “West” to develop the kind of mechanical technologies that subordinated the whole of nature to man. This isn’t an original thesis, nor does White claim it as such. The young Hegelians present a similar picture of the historical meaning of Christianity. What was original with White is the thesis that this subordination is at the root of our present ecological crisis. LI has already put his fork and knife into this article, as it doesn’t accord with our sense of before and after. We locate the shift of the human limit in the early modern era. And we maintain that the ‘subordination’ of creation to man and is different in kind from the subordination of nature to man. Here is Lynn White: Especially in its Western form, Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen. As early as the 2nd century both Tertull

verum and factum

LI lept, in our last post, upon Vico’s passage concerning the material transmission of the masterpieces. As I pointed out, it is an odder passage than it might at first appear. Consider – it sounds themes – notably, the warning that mechanization works against authenticity – which are distinctly post-revolutionary. Furthermore, the man writing this is the son of a bookstore owner, who – one can say, literally – owes his bodily being to the printing press. Furthermore, the chance to study came to him from a chance conversation in a bookstore with a Bishop, carefully recorded and placed in the autobiography. The ancients versus the moderns was a battle of the books, as Swift puts it (at about the same time as Vico), but it is the making of books as well as their content that concern our man. While it may seem that the analysis of mechanization is far removed from Vico’s protest against the geometric method, in fact, it is part of the same problem of exteriority. Just as the deductiv