chapter  Chapter 3
23 Pages

The Non-Scientific Roots of Ecological Environmentalism

WithDavid Pepper

The main tasks of Chapters 3 and 4 will be to demonstrate that modern ecological environmentalism (ecocentrism) has particular affinities with 19th-century romanticism – characterised as a ‘non-scientific’ root – and also the ideas of Malthus and Darwin – characterised as ‘scientific’ roots. However, before proceeding to these tasks it is as well to consider two powerful and related pre–19th-century ideas on the relationships between living and non-living objects on earth, and between earthly and ‘heavenly’ beings. These ideas of the Great Chain of Being and plenitude, superficially resemble some of the ideas of romanticism and modern biology, and thereby are linked with ecocentrism. We shall describe the ideas, consider their apparent links with ecocentrism and, finally, question how strong such links really are.