Aristotle said something to the effect that nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man and that the value of non-human thing in nature is merely instrumental. This line of thinking troubles me. And, it continues till this day. The inherent drive for dominion of man over nature. It is not just Aristotle, although he seems to be foremost in a long line of similar thought. Genesis 1: 27–8 states:
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Thomas Aquinas, being the great follower of Aristotle, shares his view that non-human animals are “ordered to man’s use”. (Source)
What do we do to blunt, if not reverse, this "arrogance of anthropocentrism"?
Habitat Collective is an initiative that we are starting at Raga Svara to think about, understand and take action on this issue. Like Raga Svara, Habitat Collective is an evolving idea. It opens up opportunities to take the Raga philosophy to areas outside of Raga, in to the world. We all know the importance of understanding and maintaining healthy habitats. At Raga our goal is, first, to understand and maintain a healthy body and mind. However, we cannot separate ourselves from our habitats. A healthy habitat is essential.
Habitat Collective is a shared space for thought and action. Understanding the interconnectedness and interdependences of ecosystems. Our goal is to experience the interactions between individual organisms and their environments. By experience I mean deep embodied experience. Experience you get while walking with naked feet on a seashore, or when seeing the stunning blue sky of the mountains, or breathing clear cold air of the forests. It is a community undertaking, driven by naturalists, conservationists, environment scientists, volunteers and everyone who loves our natural world.
Thinking about questions such as: Should we reduce usage of resources and conserve environment because a sustainable environment is essential to human well-being? Or is such behaviour also wrong because the natural environment has certain values in their own right and they must be respected and protected in any case. Does our habitat have any intrinsic value or merely instrumental value? To me, thinking about this is as important as taking action.
Habitat Collective creates an environment to think about ethical, and even aesthetic, responses to nature. Our goal is thoughtful action in conservation of biodiversity and conversation of environmental ethics.