Asian and European Responses to the Loss of BioDiversity: Cultural Attitudes in China and Denmark to the End of Nature

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This paper is an exercise in comparative philosophy to understand different cultural approaches to the crisis of rapidly depleting natural bio-diversity. To illustrate dominant cultural values embedded in their respective traditions, the introductory philosophical discussion includes examples of "nature poetry" in traditional China and Denmark and then moves quickly forward to a consideration of contemporary social and cultural attitudes and responses to the accelerating loss of bio-diversity, the marked increase in "weedy" species, and other phenomena that represent the consequences of human intervention in and dominion over natural processes. The different approaches in China and Denmark to the consequent problem of sustainability, with particular regard to the notion of appropriate technology, are considered in light of their differing traditional cultural attitudes toward land use and nature. It is argued that the philosophical traditions of China, due to their generally greater practical and material approach, provide a greater basis for addressing the environmental crises of today than do the major schools of philosophy in the European tradition. The paper concludes with a discussion of how a generally European view of technology can be reconsidered together with some aspects of Chinese neo-Confucian thinking to offer a philosophical basis to deal with the crisis of sustainability.


Keywords: Asia, Europe, China, Denmark, Bio-Diversity, Comparative Philosophy
Stream: Environmental Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Harold Sjursen

Professor of Philosophy, Associate Provost, Philosophy and Technology Studies Center
Institute for Global Alliances for Technology Education, Polytechnic University

New York, New York, USA

Professor of Philosophy, Associate Provost for International Education and Research and Executive Director, Institute for Global Alliances for Technology Education,Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York. Director of Center for Liberal Arts in Engineering Education (a satellite center of the UNESCO International Center for Engineering Education). Publications range widely and include studies of European phenomenology and existentialism, the neo-Confucian thought of the Song dynasty, East-West comparative philosophy, the ethics of technology and globalisation. Current research centers on the ethical problems posed by technology in the global context. Completing a book entitled From Tradition to Technology: the Ontological Ethics of Hans Jonas.

Ref: S08P0117