Ethic and Engagement

Michael J Lannoo

in Leopold's Shack and Ricketts's Lab

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780520264786
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520946064 | DOI:
Ethic and Engagement

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Aldo Leopold formalized the mature view of his land ethic sixty years ago, and as a philosophy it garnered wide appreciation forty years ago. But appreciation is not acceptance. The future of humanity lies not in the old mind-set of individual self-preservation, but rather in the new comprehension that all life, even human life, must fit within the limits of the Earth's ecosystems. Edward F. Ricketts and John Steinbeck perceived that in today's world the features that we universally admire, such as wisdom, tolerance, kindliness, generosity, and humility, are “invariable concomitants” of failure, while features such as cruelty, greed, self-interest, and rapacity are regarded as the cornerstones of success. One way to overcome people's resistance to changing their views and behaviors involves a synthesis of Leopold and Ricketts's worldviews. Together, their ideas create a unified, natural history-based worldview representing something broader than ecological thinking. The benefits of an ecology that is focused more on natural history extend far beyond the practice of science.

Keywords: Aldo Leopold; Edward F. Ricketts; ecology; science; natural history; philosophy; ecosystems; land ethic; John Steinbeck

Chapter.  1346 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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