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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Can non-Western traditions offer the West intellectual resources to re-conceptualize the human–nature relationship, and transform our ethical relationship to the natural world? This essay argues that there have been two kinds of approaches to this question: first, an almost purely ethical approach that is termed “civilizational,” which follows the logic inherent in biocentric critiques of Western anthropocentrism and instrumentalism; and second, a more political approach which is called “neo-Gandhian,” which takes inspiration from the political thinking of Mahatma Gandhi. After describing each approach at length, the chapter argues that the latter is a more sophisticated way to turn to non-Western traditions for environmentally just solutions to the global environmental crisis. It not only avoids reproducing the binaries and dichotomies to which the former approach seems indebted, but it also marries normative environmental concerns with practical, material concerns and explicitly political critique and action.

Keywords: non-Western traditions, M. K. Gandhi, anthropocentrism, biocentrism, environmental justice

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