Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Steinbock, Anthony

Abstract

In this dissertation I examine our relationship with the Earth and our natural environment by clarifying what it means to be human. I do this by looking at the interpenetration of spheres of being or philosophical anthropology to articulate how the human being is the dynamic meeting point of life and spirit. In this interpenetration of life and spirit, the task of the human being as loving flashes forth. On the basis of this task, it is possible to realize a loving relationship with the Earth and our natural environment that is not based on domination or use. To understand further how we are situated in relation to the earth and our natural environment, I discuss shortcomings of both the conservation and deep ecology movements. I also discuss problems with traditional philosophical anthropologies to highlight how some of these presuppositions have been incorporated into our relationship with the earth and our natural environment. To illuminate how life and spirit are enmeshed in one another, I describe Nicolai Hartmann's new ontology and Edmund Husserl's regional ontology as well as Scheler's philosophical anthropology since all of these philosophers ground their reflections in experience. However, since Scheler grounds being human in loving, his approach is unique and not only resolves the supposed dualism between life and spirit but gives us a fresh outlook on the responsibility inherent to being human. This opens the possibility for living a loving relationship with the earth and our natural environment.

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