The Evolution of Cooperation and Consciousness

Rebekah L. Miles

in The Bonds of Freedom

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780195144161
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834495 | DOI:

Series: An American Academy of Religion Book

 The Evolution of Cooperation and Consciousness

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An examination is made of Rosemary Radford Ruether's naturalist moral realism, whose naturalist, ecofeminist ethic locates both God (divine presence) and human norms in natural processes, particularly in evolution. Transcendence of immediate context and experience is possible through conscious participation in natural evolutionary development into the future. Ruether's moral realism is evident in her confidence that humans can know the good by looking to nature, including human nature, and this same confidence makes her an idealist about the potential to eliminate domination by creating new selves, theologies, and social structures. Moreover, Ruether's description of normative human nature focuses on boundedness to nature and the self's unique faculty of consciousness as an expression of nature; it does not include the human capacity for radical transcendence of or freedom over nature and consciousness. Thus, it is argued, Ruether offers grounding for moral norms in her naturalist moral realism, but she lacks a mechanism to judge those norms and to account for the resilience of human sin and the potential of human creativity to transmute nature.

Keywords: consciousness; divine presence; ecofeminism; evolution; human boundedness; moral realism; naturalist moral realism; Rosemary Radford Ruether; transcendence

Chapter.  14923 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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