Emerging Perspectives: Student Chapters

An Existential Analysis of Environmental Values and the Other

Cael Jones

Foremost, the existential doctrine is one of choice and freedom. This creates an interesting set of implications for the area of environmental ethics, as the existentialists believe we are responsible for everything we do. In fact, we are not only responsible for ourselves, but the world around us and the effects our actions have on it. Likewise, as with environmental issues, existentialism reveals the intimate relationship one has with others. Just as Sartre expresses, we are always with the other. Similarly, our environmental consequences affect every person in the world, in a multitude of ways. Furthermore, nature itself has been treated as an other and I argue that this is coherent with many existentialist notions. In this sense, I believe existentialism and environmental values share some important similarities which could illuminate how one should act. Moreover, the philosophy of existentialism is one that is deeply related to the human condition, especially as it questions the meaning of existence. For this reason, I will devote a brief portion of this endeavor to reflect on my own relationship with existential values and how they have influenced my worldview. Meanwhile, I provide a substantive comparison with David Loy and Buddhist thinking. In order to develop an understanding of existentialism, I will predominantly draw on the works of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Franz Fanon. Finally, I place this existential environmentalism in the context of multiple moral paradigms, including: an existential ethics, virtue ethics and social justice movements. Thus, existentialism provides a unique framework for understanding our relationship with “the other” and nature, by defining the meaning of our actions. Therefore, I intend to show how this philosophy is particularly useful for directing environmental values, especially with the assistance of ethical theories which bridge the gap between reason and action…


Find the rest of this chapter in Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America HERE.


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Religion and Environmental Values in America Copyright © 2019 by Cael Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.