JUSTICE AND THE EARTH by Eric T. Freyfogle


Images of Our Planetary Predicament
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 Freyfogle (Law/University of Illinois) joins the burgeoning chorus calling for a new land ethic--a new ecovision--before Earth's slow decline reaches the point of no return. To subdue and conquer--this confrontational attitude toward our natural surroundings, Freyfogle says, has ruled our land ethic since Adam, and unless we reinvent the norms that guide our appreciation of the environment, we'll soon find ourselves in a horrific Armageddon. Freyfogle's remedial course first requires a tour of Western philosophy to identify the moments and movers that have shaped our environmental perceptions, from Plato and Descartes to the Utilitarians and Chicago-school adherents--developers, the author says, of a mind-set dedicated to the exploitation of the land we inhabit. With modest population numbers and frontier after frontier to pursue, the wrongheadedness of this attitude went unchallenged, but quarters are getting too cramped, resources too limited, for such behavior to continue. Freyfogle urges that we set aside our self-serving aspirations; start operating on a broader, more cooperative plane; admit the real level of our ignorance of natural things; recognize that the more we come to understand our environment, the more its mystery deepens; and allow the gaps in our knowledge to be filled with the intuitive sensibilities of humility, respect, and magnanimity toward all living things. The author's call to arms hasn't many specifics, but his conviction and sincerity are relayed with power, and his gentle reflectiveness may well outlast the brassiest battle cry.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-910695-8
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993