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Erazim Kohák

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coverThe Green Halo : A Bird's-Eye View of Ecological Ethics by Erazim Kohák, Laura Smith, Charles Elliott

In The Green Halo Kohák presents a wide range of conflicting views and strategies in ecological ethics, including many with which he disagrees. Kohákbegins by sketching the problematic relation of humankind to the rest of the natural world, including other animals. He then outlines various ways of conceiving of nature and its value, discussing the views of, among others, Al Gore, John Muir, Albert Schweitzer, Paul Taylor, Aldo Leopold, and Garrett Hardin. Kohák concludes by discussing different approaches to the ecological crisis, including depth ecology, ecofeminism, the GAIA hypothesis, and sociobiology.

An accessible introduction to the vast field of contemporary ecological thought, The Green Halo will provide a basic education in environmental philosophy and an understanding of the most important problem facing humankind in the coming century: How can we live on this Earth in a way that we do not destroy our own preconditions for existence?

Here is perhaps the most remarkable of the several introductions to environmental ethics available in a growing literature-remarkable both for the unusual career of its author and for the multi-dimensional nature of the work. [Kohák] is able to combine theory and practice most effectively. On every page he joins multiple tensions in the field, often finding complementary insights: the contemporary and the historical, facts and values, the is and the ought, reason and emotion, the real and the ideal, ethics and metaphysics, the subjective and the objective. . . I am privileged to endorse this work. -- Holmes Rolston III, author of Philosophy Gone Wild

The Green Halo can be read at many levels. It is enjoyable reading and can serve as an introduction for those who know little or nothing about environmental philosophy. At the same time, it makes a new contribution to the field, both at the movement and mainstream levels. Because Kohk is equally knowledgeable about environmental ethics in North America and his native country, the Czech Republic, he provides insight and perspectives not available from any other philosopher. The book is likly to become a classic in the field. -- Eugene C. Hargrove, author of Foundations of Environmental Ethics

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Toward an Agathocentric Ecology 

Erazim KOHÁK, Prof., PhDr., DrSc.,
Charles University, Prague, Czechoslovakia,
and Boston University, Mass., USA


I should like to submit to you a simple, basic thesis--that what we are accustomed to calling the "ecological crisis" is not a product of a conflict between human needs and the needs of nature but of a flawed perception of what our needs in truth are. It is, I believe, a crisis of our humanity rather than one of nature or technology, and so requires not only technological but also humanistic answers.

In saying that, I do not in the least mean to question the crucial and urgent ecological importance of technology. It seems to me beyond question that we need urgently to address the question of the most effective use of raw materials, of the most effective means of conservation and recycling as well as of environmentally friendly ways of purifying and disposing of our waste.

However, noble as such efforts are, I believe they will prove futile if the overall orientation of our civilization bears within it the destructive contradiction of infinite expansion and finite resources. Thus it seems to me no less important for those charged with caring for humankind's long-range dwelling on this earth to raise the question of our goals--what is really important for us as humans, what is the aim of our civilization and what is our place in the economy of nature. Or, in time honoured philosophical terminology, I believe we need also to raise the question of what is the place of humans in the cosmos...


Emeriti Faculty

Boston University Philosophy Department


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