Keith Peterson’s lecture on the “Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives on the Environment,” was fascinating. His lecture was centered on the topic of Anthropocentrism of the Anthropocene. He discussed the different perspectives within Anthropocentrism, specifically: cosmic: that humans are at the center of the universe; axiological: the human interest is most important; and epistemic: the human perspective is inevitable. These were all very intriguing perspectives, each varying slightly, and conveying a different issue.


This also led me to think about not only the human-centric nature of human beings, but also the self-centered nature of human beings. Maybe I should phrase it differently—the self-interested nature of human beings, and many other organisms. Biologically, all organisms are wired to ensure the survival of themselves there in the immediate moment, and in the next generation (i.e. passing on their genes). Perhaps when you consider this, the human-centric nature of human beings becomes something that strikes you as more, natural and less selfish.


Listening to this lecture also made me think about what other perspectives there might be, other than an anthropocentric one. Coming from Japan, a country where Shintoism is a dominant religion, putting nature as the center of the universe was another perspective that came to mind. In Shintoism, objects and aspects of nature all have a god/deity. The monks hence always live in nature, respect it and worship it. This perspective contrasts with the anthropocentric one that was being discussed in the lecture.