Keith Peterson’s talk, titled “Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives on the Environment,” focused on what he referred to as Anthropocentrism of the Anthropocene. Professor Peterson provided a wealth of information, and while I was unable to understand some of the jargon he used I learned new perspectives from him about a topic I rarely think of.
The main questions that I came away grappling with were how important are humans, how should our (un)importance affect the way we live and how we impact other species’ lives, and why do we think we are more important than we actually are if that is the case? I especially found interesting some of the interpretations of the aspects Anthropocentrism that professor Peterson included (Also I’m not sure I’m interpreting these correctly but either way here we go):
Cosmic: “humans are at the center of the universe,” which taken very literally obviously is not geographically true, but as a culture, I think humans see themselves as the most important thing in the universe. What’s interesting, is until more recently science had assumed that there was little chance of intelligence life elsewhere, but now we know of the vast amount of planets that could potentially harbor life. Axiological: “human interests outweigh all others.” Very true in the world that I see around us. Our interests are being fulfilled at the expense of others. This transitions us into the perspective, Epistemic: “a human perspective is inevitable.” I disagree, I think humans have the ability to understand other perspectives, and therefor we are able to not live by a fully human perspective. However, I think it’s natural that a human perspective would be inevitable – especially if we consider humans like any other life form. As a disclaimer, I consider myself part of western culture, and as the professor said, natural domination culture is prominent in the west. There are other human cultures with vastly different views than those in the west who are much better at living in harmony with nature, whatever that harmony may be.