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Ecological Hermeneutics

analytical Essay
4355 words
4355 words
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To what extent does Hans-Georg Gadamer’s theory of science provide a basis for the articulation of an ecological hermeneutics? As "hermeneutics" is the art of interpretation and understanding, "ecological hermeneutics" is understood as the act of interpreting the impact of technology within the lifeworld. I consider the potential for ecological hermeneutics based upon Gadamer’s theory of science. First, I outline his theory of science. Second, I delineate ecological hermeneutics as an application of this theory. Third, I discuss what can be expected from the act of ecological hermeneutics. Finally, I make some general comments about the affinity between ecological hermeneutics and brute common-sense.

Our question is: to what extent does Hans-Georg Gadamer’s theory of science provide a basis for an articulation of an ecological hermeneutics? As "hermeneutics" is the art or activity of interpretation and understanding, "ecological hermeneutics" is to be understood as the activity of interpreting the impact of uses of technology within the context of the lifeworld. (1) Our considerations of the uses of technology (2) include the spheres of scientific research on one hand and industrial production processes on the other, specifically capitalism. The similarity which makes these two spheres felicitous to ecological hermeneutics is their respective detachment from the lifeworld, a detachment which characterizes each of their decision procedures.

Gadamer’s hermeneutic enterprise is modeled on a retrieval of the Aristotelian model of science which calls into question the modern notion of ratiocination detached a priori from experience, from the lifeworld. Through this hermeneutic enterprise Gadamer develops a theory of science whic...

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(15) Op. cit., trans. David Ross (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 3.

(16) Reason in the Age of Science, p. 8

(17) Ibid., p. 105. Italics mine.

(18) In passing it is interesting to note that from the perspective of ecological hermeneutics, such attempts such as Julian Simon’s to discount any aspect of human life which cannot be quantitatively measured are exceedingly tenuous. As he sees it, the "simplest and most accurate measure of health is length of life, summed up as the average life expectancy." But in an effort to remain objective, Simon blatantly overlooks the possibility that life expectancy might have nothing to do with quality of life, as in the cases of terminally ill patients kept alive on respirators. See The Ultimate Resource (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1981), p. 130.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that hans-georg gadamer's theory of science provides a basis for the articulation of an ecological hermeneutics.
  • Explains that hans-georg gadamer's theory of science provides a basis for an articulation of an ecological hermeneutics.
  • Analyzes how gadamer's hermeneutic enterprise is modeled on the aristotelian model of science which calls into question the modern notion of ratiocination detached a priori from experience.
  • Analyzes the potential for ecological hermeneutics based on gadamer's theory of science.
  • Explains the claim of modern cartesian science: pure reason is detached from the corporeal world, objectively observing it. modern science is built upon a fundamental separation of objective theory from subjective practice.
  • Explains that gadamer's aristotelian worldview is fundamentally different from modern science. it assumes reason is not detached but rather part of the lifeworld.
  • Argues that hermeneutics confronts the separation of theory and practice entailed in the modern notion of theoretical science and practical-technical application with an idea of knowledge that has taken the opposite path leading from practice toward making it aware of itself theoretically.
  • Analyzes how the aristotelian model of science provides gadamer with a theory of modern science. this theory says that we cannot move from pure theory to practice.
  • Illustrates how a destitute mechanical engineering graduate student became enthralled with the idea of alpine skiing. he read magazines on the latest equipment, psia (professional ski instructor of america) ski instruction manuals, books on physiology, tuning, waxing, binding adjustment, etc.
  • Narrates how the intrepid adventurer, confident of his vast technical knowledge of the art of snow skiing, detrams to hidden peak, turns the tips downhill and lets gravity do the work from there.
  • Explains that objectified theory cannot be founded independently of subjective experience. we all bring the past experiences we have into the observations we make.
  • Argues that all of the customs, feelings, biases and prejudices which each of us bring into our encounter in the lifeworld are the preconditions for the ability to experience.
  • Explains that prejudices are not necessarily unjustified and erroneous, so that they inevitably distort the truth. they are biases of our openness to the world.
  • Analyzes how gadamer's primary agenda is to debunk the epistemological cartesian dichotomy between objective and subjective knowledge, and the derivative notion that objective theory is free of subjective practice.
  • Analyzes how the manhattan project developed the atomic bomb at los alamos, new mexico, during the 1940s. oppenheimer realized that nuclear detonation needs to be interpreted within the context of the lifeworld.
  • Explains gadamer's theory of science is a way of articulating this need to interpret all natural sciences in light of the human sciences through hermeneutical philosophy.
  • Explains that iiecological hermeneutics is an application of gadamer's theory of science to problems of contemporary environmental degradation.
  • Explains that ecological hermeneutics provides us with an environmentally sensitive decision procedure to distinguish justifiable uses of technology from unjustified uses in both spheres.
  • Compares ecological hermeneutics with cost/benefit analysis in that it is consequentialist in essence. it endeavors to interpret the uses of technology within the lifeworld.
  • Analyzes how oppenheimer re-evaluated his position as a nuclear physicist and realized that his narrow scope of technical knowledge should have been interpreted within the larger context of the lifeworld.
  • Argues that ecological hermeneutics demands the scientist consider the implications of its use in the lifeworld. the answer to the first question is affirmative, but the second is likely negative.
  • Explains that ecological hermeneutics has a bearing on industrial production processes and the mechanism of capitalism.
  • Argues that laissez-faire capitalism is myopically atomistic and doesn't consider the broader ecological ramifications of clear-cutting or strip-mining to all the other living or non-living entities of the mountain.
  • Argues that ecological hermeneutics acknowledges the value of things which do not have economic value by recognizing their biotic worth.
  • Recapitulates that laissez-faire capitalism puts no restrictions on the use of industrial technology unless such uses have an effect on capital gain. ecological hermeneutics provides a decision procedure for distinguishing uses of technology which are justifiable.
  • Explains that bicycles and automobiles provide transportation and have a negative impact on the environment in the sense that they require the extraction of minerals.
  • Argues that since bicycle production and use is more justifiable than that of automobiles, this does not necessarily mean that all uses of motor vehicles are unjustified. the automakers and oil companies of america do not support this conclusion.
  • Compares the decision procedure of capitalism versus ecological hermeneutics. venture capitalists build more malls in one area than there are people to shop at all.
  • Explains that ecological hermeneutics attempts to grapple with such considerations which modern science and capitalism do not acknowledge. it uses a broader criteria by including the impact of technology in the lifeworld.
  • Explains that ecological hermeneutics is multi-ethnological and sensitive to cultural prejudices.
  • Argues that ecological hermeneutics' insights are never unambiguous or uncontroversial, and that ethical and political wisdom can never be as precise as knowledge of mathematics or geometry.
  • Analyzes how gadamer echoes this feeling when he writes, "the domain of human affairs is one that chiefly falls into the realm of chance."
  • Argues that ecological hermeneutics can never be apodictic because it does not claim the possibility of objective rectitude in decisions of human action; there can be no rigorous method in ascertaining whether a certain technological practice will fit back into the lifeworld.
  • Explains that ecological hermeneutics is interpretive and arises from one’s own experiences in the lifeworld, and denies the possibility of detached, objective reason and its accompanying decision-making procedures regarding the use of technology.
  • Explains that ecological hermeneutics is more felicitous to life on earth than modern science or capitalism. its insights are often in direct contradiction with the doctrines of modern
  • Opines that one does not need to be aware of ecological hermeneutics to arrive at the conclusions they have in this paper.
  • Opines that ecological hermeneutics does not advocate the abolition of all of the uses of technology.
  • Argues that the maxim of ecological hermeneutics is that any use of technology must always be interpreted within the context of the lifeworld in terms of biotic harmony.
  • Explains that lifeworld refers to the domain of corporeal experience. it includes the idea of a fusion of the human horizon of being with the nonhuman life worlds.
  • Explains that technology refers to the human production and use of synthetic chemicals, machines, the methodical extraction of natural resources, and generally any process related to modern industrial manufacture.
  • Explains the meaning of 'theory' in reason in the age of science, p. 131, and the universality of the hermeneutical problem.
  • Explains that the locus of truth in the aristotelian sense of unconcealment, aletheuein, is in a unity which entails both.
  • Opines that ecological hermeneutics has application to all industrial production processes—communistic, socialistic or capitalistic.
  • Analyzes ehrlich's "impact of population growth," a sand county almanac, p.
  • Analyzes how julian simon's attempts to discount any aspect of human life which cannot be quantitatively measured are exceedingly tenuous.
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