The self in deep ecology: A response to Watson

Asian Philosophy 30 (1):30-39 (2020)
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Richard Watson maintains that deep ecology suffers from an internal contradiction and should therefore be rejected. Watson contends that deep ecology claims to be non-anthropocentric while at the same time is committed to setting humans apart from nature, which is inherently anthropocentric. I argue that Watson’s objection arises out of a fundamental misunderstanding of how deep ecologist’s conceive of the ‘Self.’ Drawing on resources from Buddhism, I offer an understanding of the ‘Self’ that is fully consistent with deep ecology, and does not lead to the anthropocentric contradiction that Watson identifies. The paper will proceed as follows: First, I articulate Watson’s objection, and briefly discuss the traditional deep ecology position. Next, I turn to a discussion of the ‘Self’ and show that there are conceptions of human nature that are not separate from ‘Nature.’ It will thus be shown that deep ecology is not inconsistent and need not be rejected.

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Joshua Anderson
Virginia State University


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