pp. 98-124 in Bioethics for the People by the People, Darryl R. J. Macer, Ph.D., Eubios Ethics Institute 1994.

Copyright 1994, Eubios Ethics Institute. All commercial rights reserved. This publication may be reproduced for limited educational or academic use, however please enquire with Eubios Ethics Institute.

Global bioethics & common hope

Jayapaul Azariah, Ph.D.

Professor of Zoology, University of Madras-Guindy Campus, Madras 600 025, India

1. Ecology and religion: spirtuality mode - A keystone in ecobalance


We live at a time when there is a gross need in humanity for an anchoring unifying belief and behaviour system to save our one-home-earth from wanton destruction. Planet earth is the largest ecosystem deriving its energy from the sun. The major component of this major ecosystem is humanity. Although earth is our cornucopia, or the amurthasurapee, it will nourish us only if we nourish it and take care of its subsystems. However at the present, humanity is taking what it wants from it and grows very rapidly at the expense of its very life support system. The labensraum and the living space is limited. From it we draw our three vital resources (land water and air: to meet our three basic human needs (food, fibre and fodder). But we have drawn more than we need. Thus we have created a condition of imbalance. Currently we have a three fold challenge:
1) to preserve the ecosystem and the biosphere
2) to preserve peace and
3) to minimize poverty (WCED 1987)

Therefore a challenging aspiration for the humanity of the 21st century is to find a new socio-economic-environmental ethics on the basis of new values that will cement human responsibility with morality.

The earth is a system of systems. It works on the principles of positive and negative feedbacks. The Greeks used the word OIKOS to mean the "house" or the dwelling place which has been used as the keyword to derive the following three disciplines: Ecology, Economics and Ecumenics. These three areas related to the book keeping of energy, book keeping of currency, and book keeping of love, respectively. These three, energy, currency, and love, couple the various interacting and interdependent parts and make the system a functional whole. Hence these three disciplines stress the unity of all living systems, the harmonious unity in the material cycle with the bios and the unity of all humanity.

The New Emerging Property

In a systems approach we recognise the organized working of various components, and the input and the output. The output of the system is necessarily a new emergent property which arises as a consequence of coupled interaction making the system a functional whole. The new emerging property is a property not shared by the two interacting components. Table 1 gives a few examples of this principle.

This property to spring a new feature out of meaningful interaction is the spiritual nature of the system and the ability in humanity to recognise such a new emerging property is spiritual too. Our forefathers recognised the above spiritual quality and developed their own concept of human-nature intimacy model wherein the man "Manushan" and woman "Manushi" components were unified into one component and called them Purusha which is masculine. They called the second interacting component as "Prakriti" (nature/female) which is feminine. It is a beautiful model and a system which not only recognised the women as a person but also emphasised the unity of man and woman. Such a system ensured a trouble free (pollution less) working system beside maintaining ecological justice and harmony. Hence the Indian family society and Indian environment survived nearly 4000 years. Such an ancient principle is spiritual. The ability to spring a new emergent property is a natural inherent trait of all systems but the human ability to recognize and appreciate and emulate that principle is spiritual.

Table 1: The new emerging properties of a few systems

Component A + Component B ----> Component C
New emerging property

Biotic + Abiotic ----> Biological system
Teacher + Student ----> Learning
Man (in marriage) + Woman ----> Family
Lemon + Salt ----> Pickle
Oxygen + Hydrogen ----> Water
Sulphur + Oxygen ----> Sulphur dioxide
Call + Off ----> Withdraw
God + Human ----> Eternal bliss

There are other characteristics of the global OIKOS and the universe. The presence of hierarchy within the global OIKOS is an universal phenomenon which stretches from the biological system (Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Family-Order-Genus-Species) to the Universe wherein there is "hierarchical distribution of cosmic rays reflecting the hierarchical structure of processes (Odum, 1983). So there are systems within a system. Another fundamental feature of all systems is their inherent property of oscillation i.e. a combination of constancy, away from equilibrium with regular oscillations about a mean value. It exhibits an upper boundary and lower boundary like a wave. For example, why two points on the axis and the y axis, respectively, if moved along their respective axis in relation to each other, should result in an oscillating wave curve, was a question that occupied the mind of Einstein. In a recent paradigm shift in the Western Science towards the existence of God, James Lovelock proposed a hypothesis called GAIA (Greek word meaning Earth goddess) which recognised the earth as a living organism with inherent oscillation about a mean (Lovelock 1972; 1990). In his opinion GAIA is both spiritual and scientific in nature and in our view GAIA is a picture which emphasises the mutual relationship between "Purusha" and "Prakriti". But our forefathers recognized such an inherent property of oscillation in all systems and linked it with a religious tradition of feasting with "Payasam" on one day followed by a "Viratham" (willful abstinence from food and fasting willingly) on another day. This was a weekly cycle. A pattern of pulsing food intake keeps the body system healthy and young. This is a weekly pulsating religious tradition. The longer cycles being "Bohgi Pongal" followed by "Matt Pongal" and "Ayutha Pooja" where all unwanted waste material is cleared off and burnt. The animal which helps in day to day life and the students of a profession are looked after at least once in a year. This is an ancient spiritual tradition.

Two "Ayur" (life) "Vedic" (knowledge) principles arise from the above pattern of pulsing in food intake. Our forefathers never kept the body always at the upper maxima (feasting) in a system. They took the body through an oscillating patterns of ups and downs. Such a cycle of ancient religious tradition is one of the major themes of GAIA hypothesis. Another point that arises out of the above consideration is the constancy away from equilibrium and regular oscillations about a mean which is the notion of ecobalance. When a system is balanced it works harmoniously. Therefore from a philosophical view point "balance is harmony", balance is peace, "balance is beauty", and balance is cosmos, and balance is "happiness". In our forefathers' consideration, rest (balance) was never a point but it was a condition. Balance is a condition which brings about the regular oscillations around a mean. In their opinion rest was never considered as the absence of work. It is rest "in work" rather than rest "from work". Rest to them was like health which is also a condition and not merely the absence of disease. Similarly peace is a condition and not merely the absence of conflict and war. Such a nation is spiritual.

The above two features, and feasting/fasting and work/rest and are both spiritual and ecological. They lead to material restoration and lengthen the depletion curve of natural resources on the one hand and on the other they cultivate "simple living with high thinking" i. e. peace loving and a desire not to fight. The ancient India is a country which has not waged a single full scale organized war outside its territory during its 4000 years of existence.

Indian Heritage and Religious Practices

It is well known that the Greeks and the Aryans have the same Indo-European linguistic cultural and racial stock (Connect 1991). The Greeks constantly brought the picture of man-nature relationship by providing their children toys of animal forms whereas the Aryans reminded themselves of their dependence on nature with religious symbolism in providing the vehicles of all Vedic gods and goddess with animals. In their social events like the "Kathakali" or the "Barathanatiyam" the personification of plants and animals was done by the artist who took the form of plants and animals. Secondly the dominant plant species or the trees were recognised as the temple tree "Stalaviruscham". As a result temple tree will never be cut however acute the need may be. Such a religious practice prevented the cutting of trees in Indian soil which was a sure way of preserving the components of the ecosystem. It has been reported in our history that during 1730 in Bishnooie village called the Khejadali in Rajasthan a woman by name Amritha Devi marched a team of people against the sword of the Maharaja. There people laid down their lives to save the temple trees. The Chipko movement has a similar motivation in saving the green trees from extinction.

The rivers were sacred. The material restoration was symbolically carried out by the throwing of coins into rivers which signified that persons' willingness to part with his material possessions on the one hand and on the other it ensured the return of raw material back to the womb of the mother earth. It signifies that earth and people are interrelated. One generation arises from the womb of the earth as the previous generation returns into the earth (Reuther 1990). This religious tradition is a symbolic act to represent the harmonious unity of material cycle with that of biotic component of the biosystems.

The concept of holism was a basic concept in the Indian thinking. Holistic ecology is a philosophy which "links practice with concepts". An example may be cited from the practice of "Sanga Kalam " (Sangam Period). A search was made to locate an equivalent word for the word 'Sewage'. However no such word could be found in the "Sangam" literatures (Azariah and Azariah 1987). The economics of the system was such that the waste water was used as a resource and hence there was no need to recognise it as a waste. In our forefather's thinking a holistic relationship between economics and ecology was based on their holistic understanding of natural resources.

One of the main reasons for the 4000 years of sustained maintenance of one's own home as well as the environment is the concept of considering earth and nature as "mother". This is a symbolic expression and human affirmation that all humanity depends upon the earth as its main source of life and nourishment. Since earth and nature are credited with motherhood and womanhood, any human act that would break natural laws or strip the earth of its natural resources, or kill her with pollution, is not only considered as immoral but also as an act of violence. Any violence against nature is violence against women and "vice versa". In India from time immemorial our forefathers have developed a group of elite "Purusha" and "Pandits" who were engaged in formulating such injunctions to prevent violence against nature and women and family which are enshrined in the "dharmasastras" and "dharmasutras". No wonder Indian society has set a record of unbroken cultural history of 4000 years.

In Indian thought, maintaining the relationship on a larger global scale between humanity and nature and at the local scale in his very own house (husband and wife) relationship is the "dharmaum" (duty/responsibility) of the "purusha". It may be worth pointing out that in ancient times words like "broken homes" and "divorce" were not a common household word in India. We have now lost our "dharmaum" (responsibility). It may be noted that 70% of Indian rivers are polluted and a river like Cooum in Madras contains 24 million bacteria in 10ml of its water (Azariah 1987). The concept of mother-earth is dying. We are wasting both our natural resources as well as human resources. Our attitude to women and unborn female child has changed due to misplaced economic values. In India about 12 million baby girls are born every year of which 1.5 million die before their first birth day another 8,500,000 girls die before their fifth and by the 15th year only 9 million will still be alive. In Bombay in 1984, 40,000 female foetus were aborted. In one hospital out of 8,000 abortions performed, 7,999 were females. This has created an imbalanced situation where there are 23 million excess males in the country. The ancient Indian "dharmaum" has lost its meaning now because of economic considerations have replaced human values. Soon we are in danger of loosing our one home earth because the "purusha" and "Prakriti" relationship is broken.

Man is a moral agent. He knows the "ought" and ideal possibilities. We want to save the biosphere from wanton destruction. But there is problem. The problem is where shall we start "Is it from religion, Or is it from Science"? Einstein said "Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind" (Chagas, 1980). He recognised the importance of realities which are above science. He rightfully said "Our times are characterized by extraordinary discoveries in science and its technical applications. Who of us is not impressed by it? However, let us not forget that knowledge and technical aptitudes do not lead humanity to a happy and dignified life . . . ". Heisenberg (1971) records a conversation he had with Wolfgang Pauli and Paul Dirac: One of us said "Einstein keeps talking about God: What are we to make of that" It is very difficult to imagine a scientist like Einstein should have such strong ties with religious tradition" "Not so much Einstein as Max Plank" some one objected. "From some of Plank's utterances it would seem that he sees no contradiction between religion and science. Indeed that he believes the two are perfectly compatible".

However, there is a duel nature to the relationship between science and religion. Both have resulted in exclusiveness. Science is sectarian in that it has created various water-tight non interacting departments. And religion has introduced dogmas rivalries and destructive animosities. Since both religion and science are man made it is that realization of the oneness of the humankind which can bring out such an unification is spirituality. Spirituality is the language that can speak to the whole person. Spirituality is the "atman" of the inner religion of the whole person. And social practices are the external manifestations of religion. Therefore the grip which religion holds upon human actions working as they do through the mind is so strong that it is not easy to isolate religious practices. Similarly the impact of science and technology on human beings is such that we can't just shed off its fruits. Hence spirituality which is the common denominator between science and religion is required to cater to the totality of human personality (Wholeness of man). Lovelock (1990) made a passionate plea when he said that each one of us "can rise above dogma, scientific or religious, and look down to see and cherish a most seemly earth". The same thought was subscribed by our Mahatma Gandhi the great environmentalist who went beyond religious boundaries and recognised spirituality as the basis of unity of human beings. He wrote in "Young India " (Sept 19 1929) "By Ramraj do not mean Hindu Raj. mean 'Ram Raji Divine Raj. The kingdom of God. For me Rama and Rahim are one and the same diety. acknowledge no other God but the one God of Truth and Rightness". To recognize the existence of God is spiritual and to recognizie Purusha as a spiritual being is spiritual too.

Mechanistic and Materialist Aspect of Science

Science as we know it today is western in all its aspects. Our forefathers were directed their attention to wider issues like cosmogony cosmology and the fundamental nature of substances (Azariah 1991). Science before the dawn of Darwinian thought was governed by religious thought. Since 1859 with the publication of the Origin of Species man began to pay attention to his "lineage" rather than his "linkage" with nature (Odum 1971). Darwinian classification recognised "manusha" rather than "Pursha". It divided the biosystems into "living "things"" and "non-living things". The usage of the word "living things"" is non-Indian and alien to ancient India religious philosophies. Such a Darwinian notion was brought into Indian thinking as early as 1960 through the teaching of the text books prepared by the American Science Curriculum Study (BSCS) which defines biology as "the science of living things" (BSCS 1963 page 3 and other pages). Today all our elementary school text books contain these phrases "living things". The recent UGC "report of the Curriculum Development Centre" (1990) section Zoology and the UNESCO-UNEP Environmental Education Newsletter (Connect 1991) are no exceptions. This phrase "living things" is in direct contradiction to Indian thought because our forefathers recognized Atman as the inner reality in humans "Pursha" and "Brahman" as the inner reality of all non-human components that were around them. Our forefathers would agree with the recent declaration (scientific) that "But the universe is not a thing" (Sandage 1990) though the universe has a size which can be conceived to be measurable in principle. If the universe is not a thing then it is wrong to continue to use the phrase "living thing". The correct wording is "living substances". Though all living creatures have a size and can be measured and quantified they were different in our forefathers eyes from non-living things in that the former have life (Prana). Then with the ancient notion of "Pranavayaivu" (Life Gas Oxygen), though it is a gas it has the principle which is essential for sustaining life. Hence it is different. It is a paradox.

The ancient "Prana" concept precludes the designation of living organisms as "living things". But it rather emphasises the spiritual nature of all creatures. On the contrary the mind of the present student generation is indoctrinated with the idea that living beings are things; things which can be used and thrown away. The ideal spiritual slogan is love people (purusha) and use things. The vice versa is a non-spiritual mode. Our forefathers studied wider issues of science and were unselfish. We study narrow issues of science and become selfishly materialistic. The science-today has provided a materialistic conception of nature people and history. If we are serious about the conservation of nature so as to bring about a sustainable development of natural resources and society then we must change our being to spiritual mode.

If we want to save our one home, earth, then we must change our techno-cultures that are not environmentally friendly. The three spheres-thinking-belief-behaviour-are interrelated. The Bhagavad Gita says Man is made by his belief . . . As he believes so he is. . . Therefore if we want a change, then that change must take place initially in people's mind. The Greek word "matanoia" indicates a thorough on-going transformation of our attitude to nature. We must change from treating nature from the materialistic and mechanical view point to one that has direction and purpose. To achieve such an aim science must take a teleological base and science teaching must strike the spiritual mode. In my opinion the GAIA concept of James Lovelock may serve as a guiding paradigm for the East and the West barring certain points. In principle it may help our students to rediscover spiritual order in nature and in scriptures. It may be mentioned in this context that a new bachelor's programme entitled "Bachelor of Environmental Management" is being offered at the University of Madras wherein students in their 3rd and final year undergo a course on Indian Heritage with a bias towards Indian Philosophy and Vedic and other eastern scriptures. More recently a Ph. D programme was conducted on "Environmental perception of Kapaleeswarar Temple" in the Madras city and we found to our dismay that the temple site which was once a centre of learning has become the centre of commerce and the youth (students) who come there have non-spiritual motives and outlook of life). Therefore attempts must be made now if we want to save our environment and society.

In any attempt to develop a fresh curriculum a stress on human values must be placed. Human values such as altruism and reciprocal altruism are inbuilt bioethical human traits which regenerate love in human- nature and human-human relationships. In my opinion therefore subjects like "evolution" which propagate the idea of "gladiatorial theory of existence. . . . and the swiftest and the cunningest live to fight another day..." (Hamburgh 1980) may be replaced with new subjects like "Bioethics" and "environmental ethics" which recognise the organic order and correlation in nature as well as the oneness of human race. By the unity of humanness do not mean the political / economical / racial / academic oneness. But "We must internalize the view of the indivisible human family that we are biologically and genetically one species with no scientific bases for divisiveness based on minor differentiations whether skin colour, ethnic stock, sex or social functions" (Henderson 1990).

The need of the hour is to identify spiritual discipline. Foster (1978) identified some classical (ancient) spiritual disciplines, namely, Meditation prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, guidance, worship and celebration which are common to all eastern religions (Hinduism, Islam and Christianity). These disciplines were infused (internalized) into ones being in our classical Guru-Shisya type of education. Although such a model is not possible to be introduced currently there is a possibility for infusing the spiritual discipline into our educational kits. It is difficult but possible.

The steps in developing suitable educational curriculum are many fold. They are:
1. Analyse ones' own curriculum materials.
2. Identify moral/spiritual issues present in them.
3. Create supplementary materials.
4. Develop appropriate teaching strategies to stimulate the moral development.
5. Search the scriptures to rediscover ancient Veda (Knowledge) which ensure stability of both local human home and the global home-the earth.
6. Search afresh the nature around us and the scientific literature to re-assess the natural value, ecological value, functional value, spiritual value of organisms around us.
7. Incorporate natural order / spiritual discipline/ moral values / human values in our educational curriculum and the study materials.
8. Separate from our present educational system those subjects that impart a materialistic-mechanistic nondirectional-purposeless view of nature and humanity.
9. Provide political will, academic will, people's will, and spiritual will.

In conclusion let me quote Leo Tolstoy "Everybody thinks of changing the humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself." (Mead 1965).

2. Eastern Environmental Ethics and 'Conceptual Resource' Transfer

Development of Ecological Global Consciousness

With the writings of Leopold (1949), who may be considered as the early prophet of ecology, a new consciousness of ecological relatedness with nature was created. Wells (1939), as well as Julian Huxley and G.P. Well, used the term "New Ecology" to denote systems ecology models which can be quantified. Thus the base for viewing ecosystems from an ethical perspective was laid. The writings of Naess (1973) evoked another new dimension of ecological ethical thought process and these ethicists called themselves the "deep ecologists". Naess differentiated the "deeper concerns which touch upon principles of diversity, complexity, autonomy, decentralization, symbiosis, egalitarianism and classlessness" from ecologically responsible policies which are "concerned only in part with pollution and resource depletion. Miller (1991) summarized the ideology of deep ecologists as follows. Shallow ecology is the establishment ecology - the ecology of Government, industry and University - limiting its concern at the very most to the fight against pollution and resource depletion. Its central objective is the maintenance of the status quo, attempting to do a bit better environmental biology and working for the health and affluence of people at home. Deep ecology, on the contrary, moves beyond formal reductionist biology and concerns itself with whole ecosystem values and with the well being of people in the poorer and developing countries. It rejects the "man in the environment" concern of most popular ecology and raises questions about the possibilities of there being intrinsic values within nature".

Environmental ethics is a subject of biophilosophy and it derives its directives from the general theory of ethics which deals with the moral dimensions of human life in relation to the various dimensions of human action on nature. Application of the action-guide principles of normative ethics in problem areas of human intervention in his natural environment would involve the consideration of nature/environment as an living organism. The GAIA hypothesis, (of considering earth as a living organism), introduced into scientific thinking, reinforces this notion (Lovelock, 1990). The biosphere consists of abiotic (non-living) and the biotic community which is composed of living organisms. The biospheric system is a living system. There is organismal ordering.

The Concept of Organism and Common Purposiveness

The question that can be raised is this: What is an organism? If the biosphere is considered as a living organism then what is the commonality between the organism and the biosphere? Or is the biosphere an organism of organisms? If so, are their self regulatory mechanisms common? What is the interplay between the regional ecosystem's working mechanisms and the biospheric working mechanisms? The progress ideology of Whitehead (1967, 1978) and his view on organism's mechanism suggest "the concrete enduring entities are organisms, so that the plan of the whole influences the very characters of the various subordinate organisms which enter into it. In the case of an animal, the mental states enter into the plan of the total organism and thus modify the plans of the successive subordinate organism until the smallest organisms, such as electrons, are reached." In other words, plurality of individuals are bound together by real connections (Donnelley, 1989a). Hence, there are similarities between the organisms and the biosphere. An organism consists of many organ's systems and a biosphere consists of may sub-ecosystems. The working mechanisms of one subsystem or the organ system work both individually and collectively. Donnelley (1989a) emphasized that there is a fundamental link between the purposive individual and the purposive whole (nature) in their existence and the commonality of purposiveness, "....... purposive activity is fundamentally the meeting of natural, biological necessities and the confrontation with worldly others to which the purposive individual is essentially tied. This is the fundamental message of the metabolic existence of biological organisms, nature's most elaborate entities. (Metabolic existence and purposiveness go hand in hand). Organisms can be, only by ever becoming and by riding the crest of relation to the worldly other". Hence, the commonality of purpose, the desired output, of all individual regional systems contribute to the collective and common aim of the whole system. The common aim of the organismal level is the total well being of the organism and the common aim of the regional system is the ecobalance. The word 'balance', in a philosophical sense can be equated with cosmos, beauty, harmony, peace, and happiness (Azariah, 1988). However, due to various belief systems it is not possible for some people to consider nature as a living organism with a purposeful existence. Such a difficulty has crept into our belief system due to pluralism in our educational paradigms.

Past Human Attempts

Although the discipline of environmental ethics can be treated as normative applied ethics, the moral problem of environmental crisis which include areas such as pollution, aesthetic degradation of nature, human over population, resource depletion, environmental degradation and loss of species diversity, is still a pressing and an unresolved problem for us. Therefore, Callicott and Ames (l989a) tend to consider "environmental ethics" as "a sort of anti-applied ethics, and suggest the creation of "environmental philosophy" which "begins with the idea that traditional metaphysics and moral theory are more at the root of environmental problems than tools for their solution. Environmental philosophy, therefore, has been more critically and conceptually oriented then the historically grounded and narrowly problem-centred species of applied ethics ..." Such a statement brings us to square number one as far as our attempts to save the environment from destruction and maintain the continuity of human life on this biosphere. This phenomenon is not new to human history. When DDT was created in our laboratories, it was considered as a breakthrough in the science of pest control but now DDT is banned. It did not work the way we programmed. Similarly, the development of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) was considered as the gas for the century. But now there is a hue and cry for its reduced production and use, though not its total ban in human civilization. Therefore, our attempts to develop a new philosophy for the preservation of the environment and the conservation of species diversity should be on a short term basis since we are not sure that our new creation will deliver the desired output. It is likely that the next generation may want a different base for bringing about the welfare of the biosphere.

A similar phenomenon of burnt-out (approaches and attempts) is also happening in the realm of religion. The publication of the paper entitled " The Historical Roots Our Ecological Crisis" White (l967) blamed the western form of Christianity as the principal cause of the environmental crisis. He also suggested that since the cause is religious the solution may also be found in religion itself. Therefore, he suggested that a way may be found to reform Christianity. Many thinkers have subscribed to the view of Lynn White. McHarg (1969) expressed his point of view as follows:

" The great Western religions born of monotheism have been the major source of our moral attitudes. It is from them that we have developed the preoccupation with the uniqueness of man, with justice and compassion. On the subject of man-nature, however, the Biblical creation story of the first chapter of Genesis, verse 28, the source of the most generally accepted description of man's role and powers, not only fails to correspond to reality as we observe it, but in its insistence upon dominion and subjugation of nature, encourages the most exploitative and destructive instincts in man rather than those that are deferential and creative...."

The Concept of Natural Resources: Anthropocentric or Biocentric

The phrase " natural resource" is an oft repeated idea in our science and technology. Rolston (l989) commented " Nature is whatever is, all in sum, and in that universal sense the word is quite unmanageable..... Nature is most broadly whatever obeys the natural laws and that also includes astronomical nature. Used in this way the word has a contrast only in the supernatural realm, if such there is." It is the material world around us, both living and non-living. For the sustained maintenance of life we need natural resources. The earth (the biosphere) is the source of resources which could mean that man, using his science and technological skill, can convert/modify the source into a resource. In doing so "our depreciation of the 'physical' reality continues, now in the form of exploitation. Nature came to be interpreted as both slave and raw material. Like the slaves, nature could revolt and the expression 'struggle against nature' has been in continuous use since then" (Naess, 1989).

In general, resources have been classified as non-living and living resources. In both senses, the idea of nature as a raw material for human use is inherent in our belief systems. As a result, human beings tend to consider nature as a means to draw out these so called human oriented (anthropocentric) resources without any consideration for the host system which provided the source. In a reductionist view point, nature has come to mean, in atomism, an inert material (mechanical) which is the slave-serpent of the 20th and 21st century (Kuhn, l957).

In other words, "nature ...., has no mind of her own, but merely performs God's will by which alone she exists. Thus the idea of a mindless or "blind" nature, which yet behaves lawfully-that is, which keeps an intelligible order without being intelligent - had become metaphysically possible" (Jonas, l966).

Does it mean that when human beings exploit natures' substance to an extent that affects the ecobalance, nature will take it and will not respond to deleterious human action? No. Nature does respond by showing a stress response and shifts to a new position in ecobalance which may be on the negative side. (Azariah, l99l). Such a change is gradual and cumulative. Nature can handle stress loading to a point and then nature has the ability to bounce back or recover the ecobalance depending on the nature and persistence of exogenous stress. (Rapport, 1989; Rapport, et al., l985.; Azariah. 1991). But an ecosystem has its own limitation in terms of its recovery. If it can't, then it will succumb to the external perturbations and it will become sick. In such a system the 'good' biological species which contributed towards species diversity and ecobalance will be replaced by the 'bad' component of the species which will reduce the species diversity and degrade the system with unpleasant colour and odour (Odum, l971). The system, once degraded, will take ages to carry out self purification or it may not be able to do so depending upon the resident and dominant biological and nutritional components.

An Irreversible Change is Possible

In consonance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, modern science and technology are turning out more waste materials into the biosphere. When energy is transferred from one trophic (nutritional) level to another, the ecological efficiency of the system is about 10%. As a result the waste dumped into various natural sinks is about 90%. The extent of environmental loading of waste is more than the self purification capacity of natural ecosystems. The nondegradable man-made wastes are the component of "dead nature" which can not be brought into the main line energy circuits. Too soon too far is pathological. And the biosphere may be filled with man-made materials that are born out of his mind (noosphere). Such an ecological system which is pathological is a dead system in the living biospheric system. The biosphere can be considered as one ecological system with many sub-ecosystems which have no specific boundaries. Various ecosystems transcend boundaries of each other to create the most productive intermediate zone of "ecotone" (Odum, 1971). In this context, the questions raised by Rapport (1989) are worth consideration. Can a part of nature be healthy yet contain unhealthy regions? Can a healthy ecosystem continue to remain so if it is surrounded by degraded systems. In the light of the discussions, referred to above, it is possible, in an ecophilosophical sense, to have an unhealthy ecosystem in the totality of the larger and healthy (global) biosphere. It is also possible to have degraded systems within healthy systems or vice versa. The winning side is one which has retained its capacity for self purification and self maintenance. This follows the rules of the number game. If the degraded system wins then we generate more of "dead nature". Such a situation, no thinking person wants to happen. Stress within ecological limits is acceptable to nature (Azariah,1991). In the context of the health of the ecosystem, natural standards are humanly desired.

Metaphorically and philosophically, the irreversible change from living nature to dead nature can be thought of as a change from the 'milk stage' to the 'curds stage'. To use a Samkhya idiom from South Asia, " we have reached the 'curds' stage of an earlier 'milk stage' in the unfolding of our natural habitat as a species, and we can not wish away the 'curds' stage by arguing for a symmetrical relationship between milk and curds. The curds can only become milk again at the time of the great dissolution (Mahapralaya), but, of course, when that happens, there can no longer be anything alive to enjoy the milk" (Larson, 1989). The biophilosophical metaphors of milk and curds correspond to the living nature and dead nature.

Such an exploitative attitude coupled with detrimental human action has brought upon humankind the current environmental crisis and a threat of human extinction from this planet. In the works of Hardin (l993) there is a move to move " to a new home (the star Alpha Centauri) after making a mess of our old one", which is a non-solution to the problem of environmental crisis. But the point is, should we make a mess of our present home and brand it as " our old one". Does the biosphere age? It only deteriorates due to man-made pollution.

The Asian Tradition of Environmental Preservation: The Base

Among the Eastern countries, India, in particular, has a long tradition of Science, culture and religion. India was at its height in the fields of agriculture and astronomy. Gates (1991) reported that mango Mangifera indica has been cultivated in India for at least 4000 years and Sorathia (1991) reported " India has a long tradition of astronomy stretching back beyond 3000 B.C. Between 5th and 12th century AD, Indian astronomers and mathematicians such as Aryabhata, Varahamihira and Brahmagupta made substantial contribution towards the development of astronomy" And in spite of India's advancement in science, mathematics and astronomy, the culture has preserved its ecosystem for ages. It can be argued that perhaps there were not too many people to exploit the natural resources. " An estimate suggested for the subcontinent (India) at the end of the fourth century BC, is 181 million. This estimate is based partly on the size of the Indian army as described in Greek sources when referring to the campaign of Alexander of Macedon in northern India". (Thapar, 1966). Therefore, there must have been, as there is today, a strong base which provided the people with a motivation to keep the ecosystem from degradation. The foundation of Indian tradition was/is its spiritual values. Historians consider " India was the genesis of the spiritual East..... Indian values being described as ' spiritual'...." values (Thapar, 1966).

The Eastern Alternative

Although White (1967) suggested that the solution to current technological problem of environmental degradation may be found in religion itself, he did not consider the option of eastern alternative as an viable one. Therefore, it is generally considered that "the Lynn White controversy effectively turned off the lights and closed and bolted the door against the possible influence of Asian traditions of thought in the constructive project of environmental philosophy" (Hargrove, 1989). However, a reconsideration was made with the publication of a paper by Rolston (1987) which asked the question "Can the East Help the West to Value Nature?" which was followed by the publication of the book Nature in Asian Tradition of Thought (Callicott and Ames, 1989, b). But the fear is "will it work in the Western tradition and culture?". For Hargrove (1989) states "As far as I am aware, the West has never been comparably damaged by anything that it has imported from the East".

Ecosystems and Creativity: The new emerging property

In a systems approach we recognize the organized working of various components with their input and output data. The output of the system is necessarily a new emergent property which arises as a consequence of coupled interaction making the system a functional whole. The new emerging property is a property which is not shared by the two interacting components. Table 1 in section 1 gives some examples of this ecological principle in a few areas of interest.

It may be noted that component C is a new property which is not shared by the two components which contributed to its making. The production of such a new component from already existing ones is the creativity of the system. The process that brings about such a property is the ability to interact with each other and be in an interactive state. It should be emphasized that such a property of creativity, due to meaningful interaction, will come only when there are (at least) two components. With one component the output is zero. This can be explained with the following equation: n(n-1) where 'n' is the number of components. If there are two or three components in a system then the total number of interactions are 2 and 6 respectively. Depending upon the output' a system could be termed as 'complex' or 'simple'.

This property to engender a new attribute, emerging out of a meaningful interaction, is the spiritual nature of the system which the eastern traditions of nature recognized very strongly.

Eastern traditions (Hinduism) developed this ability and extended such a notion also in the continuity between man and the rest of life. Such a concept of human-nature relationship model is unique to Hinduism. In this model, male and female components were united into one component and called it as 'Purusha' (masculine) meaning a person. Nature is the second component which is called ' Prakriti' (feminine). The interaction between the two creates 'awareness'. The interaction of awareness with Brahman (ultimate, indivisible reality which manifests itself in things) leads to the creation of consciousness. It is a beautiful model and a system which not only recognizes the women as a person but also emphasizes the unity of man and woman. Such a system ensured a trouble free (less of pollution) working system, beside maintaining ecological justice and harmony. Hence, the Indian family, society and the environment survived the test of time for nearly 4000 years.

The eastern notions of awareness and consciousness are linked with the cultivation of conscience, which is conditioned by the mental inputs through education which in turn shape human belief systems. Cultural historian, Roszak (1978) stated "Conscience and consciousness, how instructive the overlapping similarities of those two words is. From the new consciousness we are gaining of ourselves as persons perhaps we will yet create a new conscience, one with ethical sensitivity..."

Ontological Complements vs Ethical Opposites

The above conceptual resource of eastern environmental ethics appears to be a common feature among other eastern traditions such as Chinese, Japanese and Buddhist traditions. These traditions recognize the yang and yin transformations which consider " paired opposites" like male and female; positive and negative; light and darkness; life and death and good and bad (Kalupahana, 1989). It is difficult to consider 'male and female' as opposites. These components are ontological complements. While word pairs such as life and death; good and bad are ethical opposites. A merger of these ethical opposites results in chaos, confusion and pollution.

An interesting situation arises when the South Asian (Indian) and the far eastern conceptual notions are taken together, collectively. They can be grouped into two categories, namely complementary word pairs and paired opposites. The former may include word pairs such as those listed in Table 1 and the latter may include word pairs like truth and lie; good and bad; light and darkness; and life and death. These paired opposites may not / can not interact with each other in the same sense of ecological systems analysis principles and create a new component. However, the word pair "life and death" may be considered as a special category since in death there is life and in life there is death. Hence, life and death may not be seen either as an ontological complements or ethical opposites. It appears as though that only complementary word pairs have the ability for creativity. Secondly, the paired opposites, as listed above, which have an ethical connotation do not have the ecological conceptual creativity. On the other hand, Donnelley (1989b) recognized a certain word pairs as "fundamental opposites" such as Joy and sorrow, good and evil; disjunction and conjunction; flux and permanence; greatness and triviality and freedom and necessity. Certain other word pairs fall under the grey area. For example, the word pair 'positive and negative', in the field of electricity, will lead to short circuit with direct interaction. But in other areas of science such interaction may yield meaningful output. In the ecological sense, 'dead nature' is a 'paired opposite' of 'living nature' and there is no interaction between the two. It is an irreversible change.

Ecology: Conceptual resource of household

The biosphere is a system of systems. It works on the principles of positive and negative feedbacks. The Greeks used the word OIKOS to mean the " house" or the dwelling place which has been used as the keyword to derive three major disciplines, namely Ecology; Economics and Ecumenics. These three areas relate to the book keeping of energy, book keeping of currency and book keeping of love respectively. These three - energy, currency and love - couple the various interacting and interdependent components and make the system a functional whole. Hence, these three disciplines stress the unity of all living systems, the harmonious unity in material cycle with the bios and the unity of all humanity. Nature is considered as the house for the living and the mother or the source of human sustenance. Such a conceptual ecological thinking is inbuilt in its heritage and religious belief and practice system.

Indian heritage of Human-nature relationship

It is well known that the Greeks and the Aryans have the same Indo-European linguistic, cultural and racial stock (Connect, 1991). The Greeks constantly implanted a picture of human-nature relationship in the minds of their children by providing them toys of animal forms whereas the Aryans reminded their household about nature-human relationship with religious symbolism. The vehicles of all the vedic gods and goddess were animals. In which case the reverence for nature was inbuilt with the worship of the gods. In the social events like the dance-drama called Kathakali (the dance of Kerala, India) and the Barathanatiayam (dance of Tamil Nadu) personification of plants and animals was done by the artist who took the form of plants and animals. In the places of public worship, ecologically dominant tree was recognized as the temple tree, the Stalaveeruscham.. Hence, a sacred tree, attached to the temple, can never be cut. During 1730s, in the Indian village of Bishnoole called Khejadali in the State of Rajasthan, people sacrificed their lives in order to save the trees from the sword of the king. Whereas, other kings like Paari Vallal left his chariot as a support for a climber-plant. In the day to day life, people considered the plants as their sisters.

The rivers were sacred. The material restoration was symbolically carried out by the throwing of coins into rivers which signified that a person is willing to part with his material possessions, on the one hand, and on the other the return of raw material back to the womb of mother earth. It signifies that earth and people are interrelated. One generation arises from the womb of the earth as the previous generation returns into the earth.

The Development of Natural Reverence

In the Eastern context, religious belief-based environmental attitudes are directly expressed in positive environmental ethical behaviour. Such an axiological basis led to the development and practice of natural reverence. Deutsch (1989) defined natural reverence as " the attitude, the awareness, of the belonging together of man and nature in freedom - in such a way that allows for a meaningful, creative play in their relationship". However, there is a sharp difference between "respect" and "reverence". Interestingly, Western tradition may tend to think in terms of rationalistic ethics and may prefer the term respect over reverence, resulting in the material good of the system. Whereas an attitude of reverence may work towards the spiritual good of the system. But it may involve the veneration of nature. Human beings may take the place of a devotee. However, in the Eastern tradition both the terms may be used in an interchangeable manner. Both the terms are complementary in nature. Since there is a meaningful, creative and desired output in the Eastern conceptual resource (ECR) Deutsch (1989) expressed his attitude in the following words: " We don't turn to the East for a better scientific understanding of nature (although many individual Asian scientist may indeed contribute to that understanding), but for different ontological perspectives and moral ideals that might influence our own thinking". However, Larson (1989) thought differently, "If we seriously think that we can find "conceptual resource" in Asia and work into our own philosophy, and that such an effort would have a serious impact on the environmental crisis, then we really have not understood the environmental crisis at all!" Put differently, our effort is itself a part of the problem. We are spinning our wheel and nothing at all will or can change. It is a bit like the Vedanta of Sankara: Cleverly tinkering with concepts that deny everything on one level while allowing everything to remain just as it is on another level"

The implications in the transfer of ECR

The East has imported the Western technology for the sake of development. But ecologist commonly believe that Western technology can not be applied in an Eastern situation without taking into consideration its local culture and environmental conditions. In this context the statement of Callicott and Ames (1989c) on technology is interesting and it can be rephrased suitably in the context of the application of ECRs in the Western culture. They said " Technology is not culture neutral any more than it is value-neutral. To adopt a technology is to adopt, like it or not, the matrix of presuppositions in which the technology is embedded". So then, in the context of ECR transfer the statement would read as follows: ECR is not culture-neutral any more than it is value neutral. To adopt an ECR is to adopt, like it or not, the matrix of presuppositions, in which the ECR is embedded. It is the jewel net of Indra. The metaphor is clear. The pearl nuggets are the ECRs and the frame work of the conceptual net is made of the various religious presuppositions which contribute to the making of the jewel net of Eastern Environmental Ethics (EEE). It is clear, therefore, that any import of EEE may have to be in toto. It is difficult to imagine how the jewel nuggets of ECR alone "without the matrix" will work in another culture where the value systems are different. Unfortunately, no test experiments can be performed in this area because there is no testing ground. But it is worth trying than doing nothing, even though a cloud of uncertainty hangs over our attempt. Our effort is itself a part of the problem. In short each culture needs its own "systemic shifts".

The Common Ground

Nevertheless, it is better to start from some common ground. In this respect it is better to agree with Larson (1989): " It is my inclination to think that we would do better, rather, as comparatives, to inquire into the manner in which ideas and or concepts function in their respective "frames" and "paradigms" as a way of getting a handle on how our modern "concept clusters" might be generating and are being generated by the contemporary "frames" and "paradigms" in which we live."

3. Biophilosophy of the Biosphere and the Darwinian Paradigm


It is well known that during the Greek period of history, man attempted to understand cosmic nature from the viewpoint of natural philosophy. With the advancement of knowledge, science subjects were categorized as " Natural Science" By the 20th century, biology emerged as one of the major subjects of natural science. During the middle of the 19th century biology branched off into a new discipline called "ecology" which centred around our understanding of the working of natural systems. The word ecology was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1869 who also introduced Charles Darwin's work on the "Origin of Species" to the German intellectuals. During this time the Western civilization was dominated by the Christian world view that man was created in the image of God and God gave man power to have dominion over nature and to subdue it. The work of Darwin was an antithesis of the Christian environmental philosophy and it emphasized the continuity of life in evolution through natural selection. These two schools of thoughts were running parallel and by the early 20th century religion and educational knowledge contents were separated with the evolutionary paradigm dominating the educational systems. Therefore, it is thought worthwhile to investigate the influence, if any, of the teaching of Darwinian evolutionary paradigm on the belief - behaviour system of human beings with special reference to nature and environmental ethics.

Sustainable environment is the purposeful management of the environment. The theory of evolution, beside the emergence of other scientific specializations and rapid economic growth, has played a key role in the legitimisation of social understanding of the concept of sustainable development (Redclift, 1993). Since the middle of the 19th Century, the Darwinian theory of evolution has remained one of the dominant world views. The theory of evolution considered the continuity of life and placed man back in nature and treated humankind as any other product of evolution. The contribution of social scientists to evolutionary thinking led to value relativism and subjectivism where one value is no better than the other. Coupled with such a notion, the idea that man could dominate nature and subdue it, as interpreted in the Book of Genesis, enhanced the utilitarian value of nature and the biosphere was subjected to sever man-made stress. It is generally considered that the present day urban-techno-industrial lifestyle as conditioned by the products of science breaks the intimate relationship between human being and the living nature (Devall, 1985 p.183).

Considering the rate of degradation of the environment, due to technological advances, Leopold (1949) introduced the concept of 'land ethics' and proclaimed that conservation measures be introduced with a paradigm shift from anthropocentric resource exploitation to biocentric value conservation. He wrote "Despite nearly a century of propaganda, conservation still proceeds at a snail's pace; progress still consists largely of letterhead pieties and convention oratory......The usual answer to this dilemma is " more conservation education". No one will debate this, but is it certain that only the volume of education needs stepping up? Is something lacking in the content as well?" It is of interest, in the context of environmental crisis and global social conflicts, to assess what is that "something lacking" in the biology educational paradigm, on the one hand, and on the other, to retrace the past rich human heritage of man-nature relationship to find out the type of emphasis our forefathers placed on the human-nature relationship. The global social conflicts include our "failure to properly relate to wild Nature and thus to develop into more fully mature humans may be one of the root causes of vandalism, destructive behaviour and excessive intervention by humans into natural processes" (Shepard, 1983).

Philosophical Implications of Darwinism

The Darwinian theory of evolution has its implications in religious, scientific, social and cultural dimensions of human life. Mayr (1982) summarized the following six implications:
"(i) The replacement of a static by an evolving world (not original with Darwin)
(ii) The demonstration of the implausibility of creationism
(iii) The refutation of cosmic teleology
(iv)The abolition of any justification for an absolute anthropocentrism by applying the principle of common descent to man.
(v) The explanation of "design" in the world by the purely materialistic process of natural selection, a process consisting of an interaction between nondirected variation and opportunistic reproductive success which was entirely outside the dogma of Christianity.
(vi) The replacement of essentialism by population thinking."

The current implication of other forms of Darwinism such as those of sociobiologists is that traditional virtues and values such as unselfishness, conscience, love, welfare of others, happiness and social good are mere expressions of the genes and not the intentional effort on the part of individuals or groups. Human beings are only "tunes sung by genes". "Of central significance to us here, however, is that, in this new form of biological predestination, all the traditional virtues of our species -unselfishness, conscience, love - seem utterly unrelated to any intentional effort on the part of individuals or groups to further either happiness or the greater social good. All virtues result simply from the transmission of controlling genes" (Miller, 1991). Therefore, sociobiological evolutionary concept "rejects any kind of cultural, or spiritual "ethical progression..... there seems no alternative to the biologically mechanistic and determinist view of the nature and destiny of our species." (Miller, 1991).

Major Trends in Evolutionary Thought

Since the publication of Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin in 1859, the concept of evolution underwent major changes due to new discoveries. The conceptual growth period can be divided into three major divisions. The first division is between 1850-1930, the reign of natural selection. The second period (1930 - 1950) was signaled off with the emergence of experimental geneticists who stressed that both the intrinsic genetic factors and extrinsic geographical barriers as mechanisms of speciation beside natural selection. The ideas of Mendel in 1866, on the selection of individuals (Phenotypes) is dependent on the genetic makeup of the organisms, were further elaborated in the works of Swell Wright, Theodore Dobzhansky and J.B.S. Haldane, the Neo-Darwinian school of thought. This marked the birth of a new era called the era of "Modern Synthesis" in evolutionary thought. The developments that took place since 1940 gave rise to pluralistic base for a few conceptual framework in evolutionary thought. The regime of molecular genetics (Watson & Crick, 1953 a, b) opened up new possibilities in genetic changes due to point mutation and genetic recombination within a given genome or rearrangements between individuals of the same species or of different species. With the growth of molecular genetics and molecular biology, the period of gradualism of population genetics gave way to a few branching concepts in evolutionary thought. One school of thought considered that natural selection mainly deals with the gene inheritance and hence natural selection is confined with the inheritance of information contents in genes and the phenotypic expression of an organism is only the container of that genetic repository. Dawkins (1976) considered that the genes are the replicators (genotype) and the body of an organism (phenotype) is ONLY a vehicle of the replicator. However, it is hard to draw a line between the influence of phenotypic expressions on the genotype. The second line of development was in the direction of behaviour transmission in evolution and its power on the future course of evolution. The third line of thinking considered the role of development in shaping the course of evolution (C.H. Waddington, 1940-57). Waddington thought that genetic change may modify the development and thus favour the evolutionary process.

With the development of sociobiological thought (Wilson, 1975) attention was divided between whether transmission of information for selection is genetic or behavioural. The unit of behavioural information content was called a "meme" (Dawkins, 1976) by which it meant the coding mechanism is not found in the DNA but in a set of behavioural norms that are learnt from an individual or thought by one individual to another. The source of meme could range from an individual to society through the family. The question of "selfish genes" and altruism is a much debated issue. Further, the influence of Homo sapiens' mental and technological capabilities on domestication of wild strains, on the one hand and on the other, the production of genetically modified organisms (GMO) also raises many concerns for the future.

Based on their finding of fossil line of evolution, Elldredge and Gould (1972) Gould and Eldredge (1977) proposed the concept of "punctuated equilibrium" which stated that evolution of species did not take place gradually but in sudden jumps. They based their arguments on the occurrence of new species in spurts punctuated by periods of prolonged gaps. With the idea of rapid and major changes in sudden jumps, new terms like "hopeful monsters" and "megamutations" found their new meanings (Gould, 1977). Besides these mainline evolutionary conceptual frameworks, a new foundation for a subdiscipline in ecology, namely ecological ethics was laid with the introduction of the concept of "land ethics" by Leopold (1949).

Then there are forms of evolutionary interpretation from those who are not biologists such as historians, philosophers and theologians. Engel (1992) suggested an evolutionary model in the name of "Common Creation Story" with a possibility of understanding both God and human existence and "the relation of God to the cosmos as well as the place of human beings in the cosmos". The word "creation" is indicative of the Creator whom the evolutionist does not recognize and deny his existence, since the process of natural selection is mechanistic and does not involve any supernatural being. Therefore, the use of the word "creation" to denote a mechanistic, nonsupernatural and nondeterministic evolutionary process is totally misleading.

Historians like Munz (1989) may try to redefine the concept of speciation from their own view point which will break all biological norms of nomenclature. According to him "since we are all speaking of cultural evolution, we are therefore, speaking of the evolution of societies that are very much like the species. We must clear our minds of the biology oriented idea that Homo sapiens is a species. As far as the evolution of culture is concerned Homo sapiens is a genus. The species are multitude of human societies. Such a change in nomenclature is essential if we wish to think of the evolution of cultural traits". Such a conclusion will only add further confusion to a concept which is not yet clearly defined. It is evident, therefore, that are different types of interpretation of the idea of evolution.

Towards the path of unification and reconciliation

As early as 1930, a conceptual schism between the deep rooted Darwinians of the naturalists group of thought and the experimental geneticists who placed greater emphasis in intrinsic genetic factors -genes and chromosomes- and the extrinsic geographical barriers as factors in the mechanisms of speciation remained an unresolved confrontation. Some biologists did believe that nothing would be able to build a bridge between the two warring camps pitched on opposite sides. Buddenbrock (1930) arrived at the conclusion that the seventy year old controversy is very much alive, now among the evolutionists themselves and "... neither party had been able to refute the arguments of their opponents and one must assume that this situation is not going to change very soon". "The controversy ... is as undecided today as it was 70 years ago...neither party had been able to refute the arguments of their opponents and one must assume that this situation is not going to change very soon".

Gene versus the Individual

Technological advances tied with the progress of the scientific understanding of genetic knowledge have created "troublesome ethical implications, bearing on questions of privacy, justice and equity: the key words are genetic discrimination" (Nelkin, 1993). The gene as the "master molecule" and the genome of an organism as "the Book of Man" are the expressions of power, the absolute power of science (Ellul, 1990) and the scientists (Hubbard, and Wald, 1993 and Lewontin, 1993) over the common citizen. For it is said that the doctrine of DNA is that "genes are an all powerful basis of health and disease, that biotechnology is the "wave of the future" that science is immune to political and social pressure, that organisms can be explained in terms of their molecules, that chronic conditions such as cancer can be explained in terms of inherited tendencies".(See Nelkin, 1993). The same ideology is affirmed by sociobiologists when they voice their opinion "that in evolutionary time the individual organisms counts for almost nothing. In a Darwinian sense the organism does not live for itself. Its primary function is not even to reproduce another organism, it reproduces genes and it serves as their temporary carrier"(Wilson, 1975 p 3). Using Samuel Bulter's aphorism the point is made very clear. If chicken is only an egg's way of making another egg, then the organism is only DNA's way of making more DNA. Therefore, the emphasis is shifted from the organismal level and from the human personality level to suborganismal level and subhuman level. The Gene is portrayed as the monarch ruling over its kingdom and controls the non-genic world through domination and benevolence, if any.

Evolutionary images and metaphors

Human behaviour is conditioned by the mental images a person forms through the coding process of education. Secondly, human behaviour is also directed by one's own attitude to life itself - as Darwin would call, the 'whole machinery of life (Origin of Life p 83). The main message of evolutionary thought is that "life is a struggle" and "in the great and complex battle of life" "the fittest survives the struggle" - "the survival of the fittest". Furthermore, "no other phase in the history of biology has been described by historians with more loving detail than the battles resulting from Darwin's theory" - it is an irony that battles are described in "loving detail." The 'winner' and the 'looser' image creates a stern spirit of competition. These metaphors stimulate the human moral imagination and direct the behaviour in that direction.

In the case of human beings, his capacity to make moral choices based on reason as well as the development of reciprocal altruistic- ethics based on a detailed process of moral decision making, rather than making a choice instinctively, is a major difference between human and nonhuman beings. Evolutionary sociobiologists are of the opinion that reciprocal altruistic interaction always imply the following kind of reasoning: "If I help this individual in his fight, he will help me when I get into a fight" (Mayr, 1988, p 79). On the other hand, main line evolutionist project the theory of evolution as a "gladiatorial theory of existence". The use of the metaphor - the arena of Gladiators- fight to the death imparts an unethical view of life for the "swiftest and the cunningest live to fight another day" (Hamburgh, 1980). "Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts which simply do not make evolutionary sense" (Dawkins,1976). Evolutionists with diverse views on evolution have often turned their concepts into "often violence of controversies". The frequency and often violent controversies in the camp of the evolutionists have confused some nonbiologists. (Mayr, 1982, p 626). The notion of fight has now become very common in our day to day lifestyle. Kundera (1991) cites such instances, "I don't know a single politician who does not mention ten times a day "the fight for human rights..." (p.136), "As if it were an ostinato providing the bass accompaniment to a musical composition, she kept silently repeating to the rhythm of her motion: I will fight, I will fight, I will fight and she was sure that she would win..." (p.150). Life has become a battle for survival. The "fight for..." is always connected with the "fight against...". For instance "For women, the war against oppression is far from over. Even as they acquire the ammunition to fight back, they become targets of new forms of assault" (Viswanathan, 1993). We read about it in newspapers but it fails to catch our attention because the ideology : life a battle - fight for .. and fight against has become a too common a notion. While reporting on the status and conservation of whales, a newspaper carries a caption "They eat whales, Don't they? The Fight Resumes" (Pollack, 1993).

The one thought that runs as a thread of evolutionary life is that of "fight": fight for your rights-fight for your life-fight for power- fight for pleasure. In an ethical view point, the spirit of fight is a binary opposite of the milk of human kindness. "Life is a battle" is a proposition that must at first have expressed melancholy and resignation.

The ambiguity of human behaviour. Being and Doing

Philosophers take the view that man destroys nature due to his innate (native) or natural aggressiveness inherited in the process of evolution. "The innate aggressiveness that Homo sapiens inherited from prehuman omnivorous savanna primates may be either aggravated or tempered by the particulars of a cultural world view but not stanched altogether. A world view, in other words, may encourage environmental (or, as far as that goes, social) exploitation, or it may discourage it. Translated into these terms, recently prevailing Western world view- as a divine artifact- and the way mankind is represented, in the same tradition - as God's viceroy on Earth- has aggravated native human aggressiveness and encouraged human exploitation of nature ... Our cultural ideas and ideals can expand and complicate our understanding of the working of the world; and they can re-evaluate the objects of desire. Adapting another of Aristotle's notion, we may observe that akrasia is endemic to human nature. People may "know" the good and yet not always act in accordance with it." (Callicott and Ames, 1989c).

The path of violence

With the rapid advancement of science, life has become more comfortable but not pleasant. The unpleasantness of life is that of the global violence that we witness today. What is depressing is the fact that violent living has come to stay in our high-school-going teenagers. Any statistics on teenage violence is going to be out of date by the turn of the year. Gone are the days when school bags carried text books alone. Today school bags carry knives, box-cutters and guns. "Out of 2,400 weapons confiscated in New York City Schools in the last school year, only 180 were guns..." (Hernandez, 1993). In his article " For many Youths, Carrying Knives Helps Fight Fears" the approval of experts and parents is indicative of the fact that such is the way of life hereafter: "For some, the experts say, knives are weapons of explicit intimidation and violence. But in many instances, they insist, young people - are reluctant, even some of their parents - view these dangerous weapons as reasonable and necessary instruments of self-defence" (page 1 Col. 1). The slogan "Youth are tomorrow's leaders" is wrong since they are the leaders of today. And hence the situation is not going to improve in the coming decade if ...! The question that is asked is "Why are Japanese children so good?" The expression 'so good' is a moral and ethical distinction. "Japanese teens are chaste compared with American youngsters......... partly because they're so busy with their college entrance examinations. Also, people are always keeping a watch on each other." It appears that ethics based education should replace facts based education.

It is reported that the United States has significantly higher rates for most violent crimes than almost all other developed nations. Taking for example, in two affluent nations of the world -USA and Singapore- the crime rate of homicide has entirely different pattern. These two nations rank third and 41st positions respectively, in the order of highest crime rate. (Reiss and Roth, 1993). The attitude to life makes all the difference. It looks as if subjecting our present younger generation to a comprehensive- package- on- ethics- based- education is a means of changing ones attitude to life and not placing relatively greater emphasis on material prosperity.

The language of things - Natural Resources

There is a world of difference in choosing the word or phrases to describe biological entities. Darwin and his contemporaries (19th Century biologist), mostly used the word "living being". Biologists of today prefer to use the word "living things". The combination of words "living" and "things" appears to be a direct contradiction of two ideologies, as said in section 1. Living refers to entities that have life and things refer to items that do not have life. It is considered that the Universe is not a thing even though the universe has size which can be conceived to be measurable (Sandage, 1990). To consider living organisms as "things" is to consider the natural resources, including human beings, as things, which can be exploited, used and thrown away. Such a throw away society can not be stable because myopic exploitation of natural resources will upset ecobalance. The conflict between the whaling supporters and of the conservationist is an ongoing one (Pollack, 1993). The use of the word 'resources' is a language of things. For instance, "if wildlife is defined primarily in economic terms, it becomes an economic resource. As an economic resource, its value is determined completely by its influence on the cycle of capacity and incapacity to make payments. Thus, its concrete naming has determined its abstract nature while insidiously naturalizing existing patterns of domination as they relate to resources that belong to the public (Peterson and Peterson, 1993). So then, are resources to be considered as things! There is a tension. The tension is that we need to take/eat a natural resource such as the whales, in order to sustain the organismal organization of the organism. But we need to preserve and conserve our resources, whether renewable or non-renewable. The perplexity of the problem and our desire to resolve the problem drive us to moral reasoning. But where do we draw the line between conservation and using them for food? It is the Zuckerman's Dilemma - the story of Charlotte's Web (Sagoff, 1991). In order to bring about an ecological justice, we need to replace the notion of natural-thingdom-values with natural-kingdom-values. Only education, based on moral principles and spiritual values can bring about such a change in society.

Spiritual Dangers

Ecological prophets like Leopold (1949) saw that "there are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm : (1) one is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery and (2) the other that heat comes from the furnace. To avoid the danger, one should plant a garden preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue and one should lay a split good oak on the andirons preferably where there is no furnace. It is evident that in Leopold's view the act of attributing natures act of benevolence to technology is a spiritual danger. Secondly, he saw the conflict between the market oriented economy (grocery)/technology (commercialization of genetics and biotechnology) and the farm based value formation (farm-land ethics).p. 6

The attitude of evolutionists to evolution and creation

Since natural selection is natural, mechanistic and non-directional, any reference to supernatural is unacceptable to the evolutionists. The terms like "function", "purpose", "in order to" are not the evolutionary terms (See Mayr, 1988, p 31 and Gilson, 1984 p 11). Commenting on the usage of terms in evolution literature, Mayr (1988) writes "If an organism is well adapted, if it shows superior fitness, this is not due to any purpose of its ancestors or of an outside agency, replace the hand of the creator by a purely material and mechanical process, at that by one not deterministic and not predictive. As one critic put it, it dethroned God". However, when it comes to the question of raw inclusive fitness altruism and genuine human ethics, he clearly states " my own position is somewhat intermediate...." and "But I do not believe that inclusive fitness is all there is to human ethics." (Mayr, 1988 p 76). His conclusion is that "and yet if mankind and the world as a whole are to have a future, it will be necessary that we reduce the selfish tendencies in our ethics in favour of higher regard for the community and for the whole of Creation" (Mayr, 1988, p 88). The use of the word 'Creation' is interesting. Taken together - his non committal position with reference to the 'dethroning of God' and use of the word 'creation' it may be an indication that the evolutionists, in their heart of hearts, are open for a frank dialogue with the opposite group- the Creationist. "Virtually all biologists are religious, in the deeper sense of this word, even though it may be a religion without revelation, as it was called by Julian Huxley" (Mayr, 1982, p 80). If this is so, then such a stage may be arranged for the benefit of the community and for the whole of creation.

The view for the future: The way towards God and Purpose

The six philosophical implications of Darwin's theories boil down to two basic positions, namely of God and of purposiveness in life. Before Darwin, the common world view was that it was God who created this world. Darwin's theory undermined God as the Creator. Hence, "losing a belief in God led to an existential vacuum and an un-answered question as to the meaning of life" (Mayr, 1982, p 80). Religious philosophers like St. Augustine felt that such existential vacuum can never be filled with any other -other than God himself. On the other hand, it is also possible that Man can take the place of God and play God. The spiritual dimension of humankind can never be empty. Human beings are either egoistic or theistic. Leopold was right in saying that something was lacking in our educational system.

James Lovelock, the proponent of GAIA hypothesis, has taken the former view that the existential vacuum can be filled with God himself. For me, Gaia is a religious as well as a scientific concept, and in both spheres it is manageable. Theology is also a science, but if it is to operate by the same rules as for creeds or dogma. By this, I mean theology should not state that God exists and then proceed to investigate his nature and his interactions with the universe and living organism. Such an approach is prescriptive, presupposes his existence, and closes the mind to such questions as: What would the universe be like without God.... My belief in God rests at the stage of a positive agnosticism. I am too deeply committed to science for undiluted faith; equally unacceptable to me spiritually is the materialist world of undiluted fact. Art and Science seem interconnected with each other and with religion and to be mutually enlarging. That Gaia can be both spiritual and scientific is for me, deeply satisfying..."(See Garfield, 1991 ).

I agree with his view that theology is science, if it works on the scientific norms and principles. If one's scientific study leads to finding Him, then it is acceptable. Secondly, I agree with his view of "the wisdom of the top-down view". One must rise above dogma, scientific or religious and look down to see and cherish a most seemly Earth (Lovelock, 1990). Thirdly, I agree with the view of Whiteheadian philosophy that purposiveness is fundamental to organismal and systemic existence. A vision of reality is essentially finding the meaning of life. A deep understanding of nature, can impart the missing component in our educational system.

The path of spirituality: (i) Happiness

The essence of human nature has spirituality as one of its main components. And yet there is no consensus in this matter among the scientists and philosophers. Sociobiologists are of the view that "the theory of group selection has taken most of the good will out of altruism. When altruism is conceived as the mechanism by which DNA multiplies itself through a network of relatives, spirituality becomes just one more Darwinian enabling device." (Wilson, 1975, p. 120). The attempt to rationalize the spirituality component as an evolutionary agent in itself is interesting because it attempts to recognize spirituality as a human dimension of humanness as well as there is a sincere attempt to incorporate the reality of spirituality into the evolutionary process.

Happiness is the quality of the inward being of Human beings. Philosophers as well as ecologists recognized it. Aristotle recognized happiness as the supreme end of life (Broadie, 1991) and ecologist set "the pursuit of happiness" as the ultimate aim of ecology(Odum, 1971). However, there appears to be a dilemma in the minds of evolutionists. Either there is no mention of it in their writings or they prefer to withdraw any previous references, in their work, on "happiness". For instance, in the first edition of his work First Principles published in 1862, Herbert Spencer stated "Evolution can only end in the establishment of the greatest perfection and most complete happiness". But the work of Rudolf Clausius in 1865 in the field of thermodynamic which stated that the energy of the universe is constant and the entropy of the universe tends toward a maximum perhaps made him to withdraw his statement on evolution and happiness in his sixth edition of his book (See Morowitz, 1989, p 39). In today's textbooks of biology there is not a reference to the end state of human life.

(ii) Beauty

In balance there is both happiness and beauty. Balance is beautiful and what is beautiful is what is balanced (Azariah, 1989). Aristotle, wrote in his book On the Parts of Animals, I. 5 645 "So we should venture on the study of every kind of animals with out distaste; for each and all will reveal to us something natural and something beautiful". Secondly, to him, "absence of haphazard and conduciveness of everything to an end are to be found in Nature's works in the highest degree and the resultant end of her generation and combinations is a form of the beautiful." To him "almost every part of every organic being is so beautifully related to its complex conditions of life". Darwin frequently used the terms "beautiful and curious adaptations" of the organic world (See Gilson, 1984). Darwin's contemporary, August Weismann commented "No device in nature is absolutely perfect, not even that beautifully constructed eye of man. Everything is only as perfect as necessary, at least as perfect as it must be in order to accomplish what it is supposed to accomplish" (See Mayr, 1988). Commenting on the work of Weismann and Darwin, Mayr (1988) wrote "Wherever Weismann looked, he found evidence for selection -not only in the animal kingdom but also among plants- he examined the form and colour of flowers, so beautifully demonstrated by Darwin for Orchids...". Huxley (1957) recollected "another incident of the same year remains vividly with me. We were doing night exercises between Aldershot and Fleet; the warm June night was scented with boom: the monotomy of exercise, enforced silence, and darkness, combined with the beauty of the hour impelled to aimless meditation...". It is interesting to note that Huxley recognised beauty leading to meditation and revelation. Philosophers like Whitehead recognized "the divine beauty of the equations of Lagrahge". Recently, Naess (1993) has made an attempt to revive the distinction between the usage of the phrase "moral act" and "the beautiful act" as employed by Kant in his work entitled Versuch einiger Betrachtungen uber den Optimismus, published in 1759. According to Kantian terminology, "an act deserves the name moral act, if and only if it is solely motivated by respect for the moral law: You do it simply because it is your duty. There is no other motive". On the other hand, if a person performs an act " which the moral law prescribes but not only because of respect for the moral law. You perform the act simply because you are inclined to act like that, or at least partly because you have the inclination. It "feels natural' to do it". Then it is a "beautiful act". A beautiful act may completely be an irrelevant act, morally speaking, for it is neither a moral nor an immoral act." (Naess, 1993).

(iii) Co-existence

To learn to live together with differences is an important step which will lead humanity for peaceful co-existence. In this life style competition and altruism do not go hand in hand. They are binary opposites and fundamentally opposed to each other in their ethical norms. Given a practical situation of competition between an altruists and an egoists, the latter "will always win out" (Hardin, 1977). The basic organismal urge (deeply exhibited in the case of human beings) to survive and a genetic basis for self-interest, as evidenced by the doctrine of "selfish genes" are two main determinants that go against altruism (Singer, 1978).

(iv) Value nature

The basic question is "Are there any intrinsic value in nature?" There is no consensus in this regard. But the following aspects may be worthy of consideration.

(i) the mere reality that entities of the biosphere such as the organic, inorganic and climatic factors can be considered is of value, since they contribute to the functional wholeness of the ecosystem.

(ii) The organized, self-regulatory natural law which brings about the end state of ecobalance is in itself of value. If there is no self-purification in ecosystems, nature can not cope with man made pollution.

(iii) The ability of nature to impart in human thinking and lifestyle, a sense of respect, regard and reverence and sanctity of life is in itself a value par excellence. Sagoff (1991), while making a plea for environmental ethics, recognized three varieties of goodness in nature: (a) Nature benefits us. Nature is useful. Nature serves a purpose. It satisfies and meets a deep seated inner human need and hence it serves as an instrumental good; (b) It is an object of knowledge and perception. There is an aesthetic goodness in nature; (c) We may regard nature as object with love and affection. It is to be cherished as a glory of a nation. e.g. United States of America has been described as "Nature's Nation" (Reilly, 1990). As Aristotle pointed out " ... the study of every kind of animals (nature) ..... will reveal to us something natural and something beautiful...." Such an emerging spiritual property trait has no genetic seed and hence can not be coded in ones' DNA. This will be and can be transmitted only through 'behavioural transmission' and hence education is the only coding mechanism, if we are interested that the happiness-gene or the beauty-gene is to incorporated into our human lifestyle of successive generations.

Strategy: Prepare the Way

1a. To bring together a few representatives from each warring group of evolutionists and to have a dialogue on the common evolutionary basis for moral/value formation as well as ethical concern for the preservation of ecosystem and to maintain a cordial and tolerant relationship among human individuals of both a regional community and of an intra/cross cultural community.

1b. To bring together a few experts from the various shades of Christian -interpretation of creation account as written in the book of Genesis and find their common ground for peace and justice among human communities as well as an agenda for the preservation of biosphere and its natural resources.

2a. To bring together the evolutionists and the creationists and allow them to identify a common ground between them for the development of an ethical concern for the upkeep of the environment as well as for peace and justice among cross cultural human communities.

2b. Is there a single paradigm for structuring our discussion and single educational paradigm between the creationists and the evolutionists ?

3. Dr. Mayr has spelt out an important move in the interest of humanity: " We have just passed through a period in which exaggerated importance was placed on the so-called freedom of the child, allowing him to develop his own goodness. We have made fun of the moralizing in children's book and have tended to remove all traces of moral education from the schools. This causes few problems when parents perform their roles properly. But it may spell disaster when parents fail to do their jobs. In view of our better understanding of the origin of the morality of the individual, would it not seem time again to place greater stress on moral education?". (p. 85). Therefore, it is time to take the suggestion of Dr. E. Mayr, which is in the form of a question, seriously and evolve a policy (state and federal) to re-implement in all schools- from kindergarten to University- all the moral content that was removed from the curriculum.

4. What evolutionary parameters go in the formation of environmental values, ethics and attitudes and philosophy of life (Way of life)?

5. Human mind is influenced by the image content of educational paradigms. What kind of images are in the minds of present generation of students? and are they good or bad? On what criteria can the "Good Images" be separated from the "bad images"?

6. What democratic/humane procedures can be followed in a dialogue between two inimical and warring groups of ideologist in sensitive areas of conflict such as the following:

i) The reality of God in the Universe and His creative actions in creation and in human history.

ii) The possibility/impossibility of macroevolution. i.e. the question of a bird being transformed into a mammal during the course of evolution.

iii) The biological/social/moral/spiritual identity of an organism including human beings and its bodily rights i.e. Is the body only the means (container) to assure the transmission of genes?

iv) Are human beings "tunes sung by God" or "tunes sung by gene"? or our own spiritual misdoings such as human sin?

7. Document, with case studies, the behaviour of animals with reference to the following:

i) Do animals "fight to kill"?.

ii) Is their violence among animal communities, as in human community?

iii) Do animals compete for food/shelter?

iv) The pattern of niche sharing and separation.

8. The views of evolutionist and creationists on item 7.

9. To evolve steps for enforcing suitable modifications in science and arts curriculum.


Section 1 is based on a paper presented during the One Day Workshop on Hindu Concept on Ecology And Environment. Hindu Sangam Singapore and Abhinava Vidya Bharathi, Bangalore, India. 29th March, 1992. Sections 2 and 3 were prepared from work carried out under the International Visiting Scholars Program of The Hastings Center, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., USA. I wish to thank Dr. Strachan Donnelley, Director of Education and Associate for Environmental Ethics for the award of a Research Fellowship and his keen interest in the work and valuable suggestions


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