mercoledì 18 aprile 2018

On the concept of the value of nature in itself



"A philosopher has defined this imponderable essence as the noumenon of material things. It is in opposition to the phenomenon, which is ponderable and predictable, even in the motion of the most distant stars "(Aldo Leopold, 1949-1997). The knowledge of a phenomenon is purely empirical, that is the fruit of the sensitive mediation of the subject. This acquisition, however, can not be elevated to a universal concept, since it is quite arbitrary to generalize a strictly individual experience. A personal experience, then, also presents limits to itself, because it is the result of a constantly changing empirical "moment".
The "intrinsic or intrinsic value" of a phenomenon (noumenon), a value devoid of subjective experiences and mediations, takes on a lasting, universal and real character. The "value in itself" is something superior, something undefinable perhaps not knowable, which transcends the subject in order to become the essence of the object: "the definite Tao is not the eternal Tao" (Lao Tse). Thus, a profound universal and "noble" concept appears in the mind.
Only at a later stage will we be able to "interpret" the noumenal transforming it into a "phenomenon", that is, an object of the senses. Thus the contraposition between "things in themselves" and "things with respect to us" is born. This dualism is a fundamental concept, as we shall see, also for the protection and conservation of nature. The dualistic vision of the natural world was imposed to a large extent in the West thanks to a negative religious influence (eg Christianity placed the dominant man on one side and the nature subjugated by the other), and was proper, among other things, the Greek philosophy that placed man, a thinking and sensitive subject, outside an objectified and subaltern nature. Only in Eastern thought will it be possible to discern, at least in part, a vital philosophy that is not anthropocentric and therefore missing dualism. In the West the ego is exalted to the detriment of everything, in the East everything is exalted to the detriment of the ego. "The control of nature is a sentence full of presumption, born in a period of biology and philosophy that we could define the 'Neanderthal age, when it was still believed that nature existed for the exclusive advantage of man "(Carson, 1963). The philosophy of life of most American Indians is another vivid example of globality and the absolute absence of dualism. "It is a culture of respect for nature, for all the forms in which it manifests itself; a vision of the world as a whole, continuous exchange and mutual dependence; a conception of life as an incessant participation in creation "(Kaiser, 1992). Still quoting Kaiser, it is emphasized that "dualism divides man from nature, thus separating him from himself, as he too is nature ... ... A dualistic conception of man's relationship with his neighbor implies that The individual feels first of all separated from the other, opposed to him ... The dualistic thought of divider sees the man as opposed to nature, for which man would be called to dominate over nature, submitting it to his own will. Nature has no ethical relevance and man therefore has no moral responsibility towards him .... In this respect, traditional Indian thought revolves around the concepts of a great cosmic family and solidarity with everything .... ".
However, we need to highlight the difference between the concept of duality. Kaiser (1992) writes in this regard: "In our reflection it is necessary to clearly distinguish between 'duality' and dualism. The confusion between these two concepts, which we can detect very often, prevents, in fact, a clear differentiation between the Western dualism and the way of thinking, in terms of balance, typical of Asian cultures and American Indians.
The idea of ​​balancing, of balance, of compensation, which distinguishes the Indian interpretation of the world, is based entirely on the concept of 'duality'. We have mentioned the duality between man and woman, but the whole reality is ordered on the basis of that concept: day-night; summer Winter; earth-sky; repulsion attraction; love Hate; joy-sadness .......
In the idea of ​​equilibrium it is fundamental to consider duality not as being formed by opposite realities, of different value, dominated by discord, but by realities of equal value, existing in a complementary relationship and therefore integrating with each other. The true engine of the world is therefore the desire for oppositions to reunite and reconcile. Moreover, it is important not to intensify or prolong indefinitely the divisions and dissonances within the dualities, because otherwise they become dualisms. The dualism, in fact, is a sign of a duality understood antagonistically and not in a complementary way ……..
Modern physics, therefore, interprets certain contradictions no longer as mutually exclusive realities, but as different aspects of a single reality ". J. Muir wrote: "....... It has been said that the world was created for man. It is a supposition completely contradicted by the facts. Many are astonished when in the universe of God find something, alive or dead, which is not edible or is not, as they say, useful for man. Not content to take everything from nature, they also claim the divine space as if they were the only creatures for which this unfathomable empire was designed ...
It is much more likely that nature has created animals and plants for their own happiness rather than for the happiness of only one of its elements. Why should man consider himself more important than an infinitely small entity that makes up the great unity of creation? ... .. ".
It is therefore recalled that the interpenetration of opposites, even in diversity, always generates unity within the dialectic of nature provided that the vision of the world is unifying and centripetal.
The "intrinsic or intrinsic value" of nature (natural noumenon) is the highest expression of thought. To affirm therefore that the natural substance (in the general sense of the term) must be preserved and respected for its value in itself, without our own mediation or intuition, is the highest conceptual elevation of conservation that can be formulated. Every action must always be an end in itself without attributing to it a positive or negative value in relation to the possible consequences it generates.
On the contrary, in the common mental speculation of knowledge, we refer "always" to concepts "with respect to us". In fact, interventions are stimulated only if they bring material or spiritual "gains" or in any case utilitarian. Translating, we will have: we protect a centuries-old forest so that in the present and future generations man can enjoy it materially and spiritually.
Here, however, is a superior concept: "Nature must be preserved and respected for its value in itself, not for our material or spiritual interest".
A natural phenomenon has its greatest value in itself, and manifests itself independently of knowledge and sensitive mediation. It is essential to understand that a "place" has something in itself that we can not and must not try to interpret. Only in this way will we succeed in giving the natural world the right value that belongs to it. At one time the human spirit had in itself, in the unconscious, this concept, as a wild wolf or a forest bear possesses it, but the traumatic detachment from nature has deprived it. Every being has its own "vision" of life and unknowingly posits itself (especially as an individual) to the "center" of reality. But this centrality is only apparent, useful for the needs of the survival of the moment. On the other hand, man transforms that centrality into a total subordination of all external reality from him, making only the universal and absolute rights of his own species prevail. All with the maximum of awareness.
When "studying" a natural phenomenon it is impossible to know it without being influenced by the personal speculations of those who carry out this investigation. The claim of Western science to understand aseptically the "objects" of nature without considering the contribution of the subject, is a pure Cartesian illusion. J. Wheeler, physicist at Princeton University reminds us that "there is no law except the law that there is no law".
If, as we have seen, man was in the past a full member of the wilderness of the world, he progressively became the only subject, he came out of the stage of nature, he falsified the truth, and he conditioned to his underhands interests almost all the elements of nature.
Faced with this deep dialectic so articulate and rich in variables, the need arises, within the same human thought, to reverse the state of things, mental and material, to recondition man to a "balanced and just" dimension. This "right" dimension was proper, as mentioned, in the wild peoples or in those who lived in each case in "essence" with nature.
If man remained in connection with the wild world, as an indistinct element in the ordered and unpredictable natural chaos, he did not raise any problem of destruction and intrusiveness and, consequently, of protection, respect or conservation of nature. But his rebellion against natural truth led him to extinguish inside if the sense of original harmony and purity, turning him into a voracious being blinded by his own affirmation and his own self-centeredness. Here, then, that the essential becomes superfluous and the vacuo becomes essential. The total detachment from nature takes place, the overwhelming of things happens and the annihilation of the external world by oneself. Man then considers himself the center of everything and the only yardstick of things. "Nature may have destined the fertile land also for other purposes than for the nourishment of human beings". (J. Muir).
Conservationist thought, seen in its entirety, has often ignored the concept of "noumenon" in proposing a new mental approach to nature, reiterating instead once again the centrality of man as the ultimate goal of protection (anthropocentric ethics). Only ecocentric ethics have introduced this new paradigm in the form of both non-utilitarian and transpersonal intrinsic value (deep ecology). On the other hand, what is recognized in the "concept of wilderness" is very important, in which much importance is given to the preservation of a territory for its value in itself and not utilitarian, spreading these principles profitably, taking fundamental steps towards a new and real conservation philosophy.
The superficial ecology, exclusively anthropocentric, is clearly inclined towards a utilitarian evaluation of nature (nature remains an instrument, a resource at the service of man - Naess, 1994). Deep ecology, on the other hand, tends to attribute an intrinsic value to the things of nature (living and not), universalizing the sense of identification.
Going beyond the intrinsic value of nature means losing oneself in conservative speculations that move away from the assumption of this value and are distorted into a subjective and egocentric profit. The next step, but already contained in the noumenon, is to reconnect with the natural one by crossing and dispersing the dualistic weltanschauung of life. We must dimension ourselves above the parts and the subjective mind. This does not mean that the personal ego must be overwhelmed, but on the contrary it must practice a real subjective revolution to merge into the infinite sea of ​​the impersonal.
"It would be a grave injustice to dismiss utopian thought as pure fantasy, imaginary and unrealizable; relegating it to the defined utopian literature means underestimating its wide diffusion at many levels in all cultures. In whatever way it is expressed, utopian thinking is essentially a critique of the defects and limits of society and the expression of something better "(P. Sears, 1965 in Devall and Sessions 1989).
It is not possible to ignore the wilderness and, I add, even more from its value in itself. Those who understand the intrinsic value of things will have a totalizing vision of life that will be new and profound (in the work it will be honest, in friendship it will be sincere, in love it will be loyal, in the breath it will be deep, the next will be kind, and so Street).
Aldo Leopold rightly asserted that environmental problems are fundamentally philosophical, in which the solution of a new relationship with nature must be sought (Hargrove, 1990).
"We have tried to relate to the world around us only through the left side of our mind, and we are clearly failing. If we intend to reestablish a livable relationship, it will be necessary to recognize the wisdom of nature, aware that the relationship with the earth and the natural world required the whole being "(Dolores LaChapelle in Devall & Sessions, 1989).
John Muir said: "I only went out for a walk but in the end I decided to stay out until sunset: because I realized that going out was, in fact, going inside".

"I declare to understand
what's better
what to say the best.
And always leave the best unspoken" 

(W. Whitman, A Song on the Rolling Earth)

"Wild nature is a spiritual need that each of us carries within us and that goes from the simple love of beauty to the overwhelming need for solitude that some feel. It is the sense of annoyance that we experience in nature in the face of the work of man, even when this work is minimal or has purposes of conservation or study. The wild nature is water free to flow, to erode, to swell and overflow; it is the freedom to fly and run animals; they are the intact horizons of mountains or flat marshes; it is the immensity of the sky on a grass landscape; it is the silence of nature and the roaring of water in the mountain valleys; the cry of the storm in the forest; the hiss of the storm and the fearful roar of the avalanche; the slow flight of the eagle that cancels the space between the mountains; it is the game of waves on the cliffs. The wild nature is to turn around the eyes and not to see the sign of a man; it is listening and not hearing man's noises "(Franco Zunino).

"The protection of a natural territory can certainly have many roles, many purposes, but I believe that only one should be the purpose for which it should be implemented: to preserve the territory as an end in itself. And to preserve it means, or it should mean, to make sure that it is not intentionally altered, it means deciding to remove it from the logic of development (which is the logic of profit) that is purely human.

Deciding to preserve a place is to decide to hold ancestral, animal behavior for that place, which is our origin, which is the only way to define ourselves in balance with the environment: no deer, no wolf, no bear has ever been able or required to "develop" or "enhance" or "produce" its habitat. They have been using it for millennia for what it spontaneously offers them and leaving it unchanged for other generations. It is only man the only animal species to have emerged from this "circle of life" (Franco Zunino).





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