The third ecological way of Fabrice Hadjadj | The USA Print

The third ecological way of Fabrice Hadjadj

Some have characterized modernity as the struggle of various pairs of opposites: rationalism and emotivism, liberalism and communism, relativism and moralism… It’s a good characterization, true, but I can’t avoid the temptation of scabs. It is, in truth, a struggle that is only apparent. Opposites need each other, they feed each other; in the good of one lies the good of the other: rationalism only prospers on the condition that emotivism prospers with it; there is nothing more beneficial for communism than the triumph of capitalism; Only in a relativistic world, a world in which the foundations of morality have tottered and fallen, can moralism emerge as a desirable alternative. More than a struggle, there is a dependency; more than conflict, there is pantomime.

In his recent essay What is nature? (Rialp, 2023), the philosophers Fabrice Hadjadj and François-Xavier Putallaz present us with another pair of opposites, this referred to the relationship between man and the rest of the species. Two visions in this regard face each other and prosper: the anthropocentric one, according to which man can sovereignly dispose of the planet, with no more restrictions than those he sees fit to impose on himself; and the biocentric one, according to which the human being has degenerated into a threat to the natural world and, therefore, it would even be opportune to eliminate it («¿Do you want to fight climate change? don’t have children»).

The logic is the same as in the other cases. Whoever thinks that the hypothetical triumph of one of the conceptions will imply the defeat of the other is mistaken. The more biocentrism, the more anthropocentrism; the more anthropocentrism, the more biocentrism. To the predation of the anthropocentrists, the biocentrists respond by affirming the divinity of the planet; To the pantheism of the biocentrists, the anthropocentrists reply by affirming the sovereignty of man.

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The mistake of biocentrism

Hadjadj and Putallaz propose to overcome the dichotomy, to think according to a logic different from that of anthropocentrism and biocentrism, not to oppose each error with its opposite but with its different one. Recognizing the truth that is in both, would be missing, but facing the obligation to also state its falsehood, what less. The error of biocentrism is clear: presenting the relationship between man and nature as necessarily conflictive. There seems to be, in the opinion of the biocentrist, an irresistible force that pushes the human being to devastate ecosystems, prey on forests, and extinguish species. Civilization and nature would be excluded; the existence of one would necessarily mean the non-existence of the other.

After biocentrism, as the reader will have intuited, there is an underlying optimistic idea of ​​nature ―whose perfect state is virginal, original, before man― and a very pessimistic idea of ​​the human being, who seems doomed to predation and to plunder. We see, however, the error from afar, strutting around, showing off shamelessly. Can’t man beautify nature with his action? Haven’t there been occasions when man has not only not preyed on nature, but has also brought out the best in it? Hadjadj cites a fragment of serotoninHouellebecq’s novel:

“This forest was poorly cared for – the density of lianas and parasitic plants was too strong, the growth of the trees had to encounter difficulties -; It is false to imagine that nature, left to its own devices, produces splendid trunks in strong trees, those trunks that have been compared to cathedrals, which have also been able to provoke pantheistic religious emotions; Nature left to herself produces in general nothing more than a shapeless and chaotic tangle, composed of various plants and on the whole quite ugly.

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Human action would no longer be a threat to the natural world, no matter what, but the condition of its splendor. Wherever today we see conflict, we have to see, instead, complementarity and dependency: Nature is realized when man works on it and man is realized by working on nature.

How many times do we call anthropocentrism what is nothing but a form of Adamism!

The mistake of anthropocentrism

It is more difficult for us, of course, to refute the anthropocentric error. Doesn’t man, the highest of creatures, the most highly developed of species, have the right to freely dispose of the natural world? Is not this one at his service and not the other way around? Yes but no. Man has the right to dispose of the natural world on the condition that he recognizes his obligation to do so responsibly. It is true, how can one deny it, that the rest of creation is at his service, but it is also true, oddly enough, that he is at its service. It is not enough to affirm our right to dispose of the planet; we must also affirm our duty to care for and beautify it.

“Far from being the owner and possessor of nature, man is the mayor and manager. It is convenient,” says Putallaz, “that he stop considering himself as a pure subject that would impose his hand on an insignificant nature. That he rather tend his hand to nature to fulfill its own destiny, as a usufructuary responsible for making the world fruitful and transmitting it to future generations in a better and more fulfilled state”.

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How important is this last one! How many times do we call anthropocentrism what is nothing but a form of Adamism! We depredate the natural world as if we were the first generation to inhabit it and the last to inhabit it, as if we had not received the planet from others, our ancestors, and as if others, our descendants, were not to receive it in turn from us. . Anthropocentrism, in truth, only puts the present generation at the center, the generation that today, by chance, steps on the earth. Aren’t our ancestors human? Aren’t our descendants, who don’t exist now, but tomorrow they will? As paradoxical as it may seem, the only way to take care of them, the only way to bequeath them a better planet than the one they bequeathed to us, is to accept that nature is not so much at the service of man as man is at her service.

An alternative proposal

Against biocentric and anthropocentric reductionism, against the idea that man and nature compete, Hadjadj proposes an integral ecology: “To this selective ecosystemization, to this belief that nature is there where man is absent, one can rightly prefer an integral ecology in which humans and non-humans perfect themselves together, and where culture and justice are the most natural thing there is. For the rest, how could an ecology worthy of the name be contrary to the oikos and logos that constitute it, that is, to human habitation and thought?

Chesterton said, always so accurate, that Catholicism always stands in the middle of two extremes.: of Pelagianism and Lutheranism, of materialism and spiritualism, of pantheism and atheism. Hadjadj and Putallaz, both Catholics, show us that the teacher was not wrong.