Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Environmental Ethics & a Yellow Warbler

Basic premise of environmental ethics: nature is mechanistic but has intrinsic value, therefore a moral perspective can be taken when contemplating mens actions within and toward nature. Note: this belief, as you can see, falls apart on its own, and doesn't account for the value of the world.
I was cleaning moss off the awning a couple mornings ago, during a rainstorm - splashing water around with brush and bucket, as torrents of water drummed on the corrugated metal above my head. A squirrel took cover under the awning with me, gnawing on some little seed or pod on the far end of the porch.
This morning I had my first sighting of a yellow warbler. The songs of the professional songsters are so smooth and bright - like shiny gold coins falling in a heap. If you sold the song of this bird, it would be expensive.
The world is beautiful, and the machine theory just doesn't hold up - not to our own being and relationship with nature, nor does it account for the obvious worth and beauty of the world. What keeps people from understanding this? If you think the world is beautiful, if you love creatures specifically, then you are believing tacitly in something more than a random cause and effect machine. You are believing in a designed creation. Be a deist with Antony Flew, but don't kill your own spirit by saying that none of it is real but only matter in motion, and any significance, or particularity, or sense of being and meaning that we feel towards anything is only an illusion for the good of evolution. The little warbler was singing on the branch before I came - he had his own existence there, separate from the branch, bending the air with waves of sparkling sound, before I was there - I did not cause, in my mind, an illusion of his distinct existence. In mechanistic evolution, he and all significant particulars are illusions. Yes, he will be swallowed up into the earth again in not too much time - but for now, magic!, he has been raised up from the grave and sings with his particular brand of birdish personhood.

1 comment:

KMOB said...

i'm a little bit tired, so this porbably won't be too eloquent. i ended up having to special order all of the trees for my show from a nursery in tennesse. because i bought so much stuff from them, they gave me three free plants of my choice from a special list that they had. i chose two raspberry plants, two red maples, and one hybrid yellow poplar. the maples and the poplar will each be between 3 and 5 feet tall when i get them next week. i wanted to share with you my delight =)