Volume 8, Issue 4, Winter 1986
Asian Traditions as a Conceptual Resource for Environmental Ethics
Roger T. Ames
Taoism and the Nature of Nature
The problems of environmental ethics are so basic that the exploration of an alternative metaphysics or attendant ethical theory is not a sufficiently radical solution. In fact, the assumptions entailed in adefinition of systematic philosophy that gives us a tradition of metaphysics might themselves be the source of the current crisis. We might need to revision the responsibilities of the philosopher and think in terms of the artist rather than the “scientific of first principles.” Taoism proceeds from art rather than science, and produces an ars contextualis: generalizations drawn from human experience in the most basic processes of making aperson, making a community and making a world. This idea of an “aesthetic cosmology” is one basis for redefining the nature of the relatedness that obtains between particular and world-between tao and te.