This text offers a critique of the ideological roots of the "deep ecology" movement spreading throughout Germany, France and the United States. Traditional ecological movements, or "democratic ecology," seek to protect the environment of human societies. But another movement has become the refuge both of nostalgic counterrevolutionaries and of leftist illusions, namely "deep ecology." The human species is no longer at the centre of the world, but subject to a new god called Nature. For these purists, man can only soil the harmony of the universe. In order to secure natural equilibrium, the only solution is to grant rights to animals, to trees and to rocks. Ferry examines early European legal cases concerning the status and rights of animals and then demonstrates that German Romanticism embraced certain key ideas of the deep ecology movement concerning the protection of animals and the environment. Ferry deciphers the philosophical and political assumptions of a movement that threatens to infantalize human society by preying on the fear of the authority of a new theological-political order.
Far from denying our "duty in relation to nature," this text cautions against the dangers of environmental claims and against the threat to democracy contained in the deep ecology doctrine when pushed to its extreme.
Luc Ferry has taught at the Sorbonne and at the University of Caen and is the former Minister of Youth, National Education, and Research in the French government. He is the author or coauthor of eight previous books published by the University of Chicago Press, including, most recently, The New Ecological Order and Man Made God.
Preface. The Passing of the Humanist Era Pt. 1: Animals, or The Confusion of Genres 1: Antinatural Man 2: "Animal Liberation," or The Rights of Creatures 3: Neither Man nor Stone: The Enigmatic Being Pt. 2: The Shadows of the Earth 4: "Think Like a Mountain": The Master Plan of "Deep Ecology" 5: Nazi Ecology: The November 1933, July 1934, and June 1935 Legislations 6: In Praise of Difference, or The Incarnations of Leftism: The Case of Ecofeminism 7: Democratic Ecology and the Question of the Rights of Nature Epilogue. Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism: The Three Cultures Index