The philosophy of social ecology [2° ed.] 155164018X

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The philosophy of social ecology [2° ed.]
 155164018X

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Citation preview

The Philosophy of Social Ecology

Essays

on

Dialectical

Naturalism

Murray Bookchin

Books by Murray Bookchin Urbanization Without Cities (1992) The Ecolqgyof Freedom, revised edition (1991) Defending the Earth (with Dave Foreman) (1991) The Philosophy of Social Ecology (1990) Remaking Society (1989) The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (1987) The Modern Crisis (1986) Toward an Ecological Society (1980) The Spanish Anarchists (1976)

The Philosophy of Social Ecology

The L imits of the City (1973) Post·Scarcity Anarchism (1971) Crisis in Our Cities (1%5) Our Synthetic Environment (1962)

Essays on Dialectical Naturalism

Murray Bookchin

BLACK ROSE BOOKS

Copyright

@ 1996 MURRAy BOOKCiDN

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any fOfm. by any means electronic or mechanical. including photocopying and recording. or by allY infomlation storage or retrieval system - "ithOUI

wrinen pemlission from the publi5.her. or, in the other reprographie copying. a license f rom til(:

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HISTORY, CIVILIZATION, AND PROGRESS

Outlinefor a Crititfue of Modern Relativism

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71

147

For Janet Biehl,

Preface to the Second Edition

dearest of cnmpanions and closest of colleagues

This edition of The Philosophy of Social £cnlogy has been so radi­ cally revised and corrected that in many respects it is a new book. I have retained in most of their essentials the essays that appeared in the first edition, but I have significantly altered many of my original formulations. I have also added a new essay, "History, Civilization, and Progress," written early in 1994, which critically examines in general terms the social and ethical relativism so much in vogue today. Most of the essays

in

this book were written as polemics,

directed against various tendencies that surfaced in the American ecology movement in the 1980s. "Toward a Philosophy of Nature," published in Michael Tobias's misnamed collection, Deep Ecology, i n

f)ii

viii I Tht PhilOSOflhy of Social Erology

Preface J ir

1985 but written three years earlier for the journal Telos, was directed against the then-current enthusiasm for turning systems theory into ecological philosophy. "Freedom and Necessity in Na­ ture,� published in the Canadian journal AllfTtultrves in 1986, chal­ lenged the neo-Darwinian view of the natural world fostered by a cluster of very conventional ecologists and initiated my critique of "biocentrism." "Thinking Ecologically,'" initially published in 1987 in another Canadian journal, Our Generation, was written to criticize the New Age "paradigm" that was then being inflicted on the ecology movement, as well as certain leaders of Earth First!, who were then advancing a crudely misanthropic message from their stronghold in the American Sunbelt. Appearing here in the order in which they were written (except for the introduction), they are thus set in very distinct time frames, with emphases ap­ propriate to issues that have emerged over the past fourteen years. 1 wish to thank all previous publishers of these essays for their permission to republish them, both in the original and in this revised edition. Although times have changed since these essays first ap­ peared, the problems they tried to address

are

still with us. Gregory

Bateson's views no longer enjoy the preeminence that they did in the 1980s, for example, but his subjectivism and many of his argu­ ments played a major role in forming the innerworldly, relativistic, and personalistic Zeitgeist of present New Age ideologues, while systems theory approaches still surface in many current theoreti­ cal works on ecology. Fritjof Capra is still fostering his eclectic medley of science and mysticism, of Prigoginian systems theory and "California cosmology." "Biocentrism," antihumanism, deep ecology, and neo-Malthusianism have become even more popular than they were when I wrote "Thinking Ecologically." New views

have melded with older ones: today, it is philosophical relativism and postmodernism that are percolating through the ec-ology movement; hence the new dosing essay, "History, Civilization, and Progress." In revising all the essays, 1 have tried to generalize the views expressed in the original versions to make them as relevant as possible to present-day discussion. Let me add that without the assistance and editorial insights of Janet Biehl, to whom this book is dedicated, these revisions would have been difficult to make. I would also like to express my thanks to Nathalie Klym at Black Rose Books for her valuable work in producing this book. Two other changes in the present edition should be singled out. First, 1 have excised favorable references to the Frankfurt School and Theodor Adorno. Uke Leszek J