From Particular Times and Spaces to Metaphysics of Leopold´s Ethics of the Land

Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Studies (No 1) (2014)
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Modern rationalism transformed the modern homeland to a discursive space and time by means of institutes governing the modern society in all its walks. Based on the Newtonian and Kantian conception of space and time the discursive field is just a scene wherein any human individual adopts stewardship to create progress by reducing landscape and non-human life to auxiliary items for human’s benefit. In contrast, Aldo Leopold considered humans, non human life and the landscape as mutually influencing participants and enlarged ethical care to all living participants and the landscape, called ´the land´. Integrity and autonomy of the homeland are the central topics of Leopold’s land ethics. Baird Callicott suggested to complete it with new metaphysical conceptions of space and time. We formulated a metaphysical background for Leopold’s land ethics by phenomenology of space and time based on the Leibnizian conception of space-time. The latter is constructed by particular places and events called ´ecotopois´ embracing all human participants, locals and foreigners in a varying symbolic temporal and spatial field of dynamic process of identification and self consciousness. Adopting Warwick Fox´ transpersonal identification idea non-human life and landscape enriches these processes. Finally, it is not a matter of conquering the land, it is matter of making a community. Though landscape and participants are particular, integrity and autonomy of the homeland claim the universal status of the land. Adopting Gadamer hermeneutical way of understanding, we reject mutual and equally understanding. Only acceptance of mutual prejudice makes room for asymmetric praxis between locals and foreigners as well as between humans and non-humans. What is more, Gadamer´s hermeneutics makes an ontological status of the foreigner possible and recognizes the interest of homeland’s particularity. This universal status is guaranteed as a priori space-time that links subject’s tradition and that of the land to actual contact with the foreigner. Transpersonal identification is a consequence of converging hermeneutical understanding of foreigner’s particularity and that of the landscape. Ethics of the land evolves from the ethical status of any foreigner in the own homeland.

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Verstraeten Verstraeten
Vesalius College (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)


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