The current ecological crisis as a problem of anthropology

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The ecological crisis as a current problem in anthropology – The current ecological crisis as a problem of anthropology

Juan David Arias Ibarra –

“Nature is for man not only a useful object, but the place of its performance” [1]

“The term ecology was first used by Ernst Haeckel in 1866 to designate the branch of biology that studies the interactions of living organisms with their environment”

During the first decade of the century has come a legitimate concern to the reality of the environment and our ecosystem. We have witnessed firsthand the disastrous destruction of our forests, the increase of carbon dioxide in the air we breathe, the monstrous pollution of our rivers and our air, by excessive production of factories and industries, the fading of our sources water, the dryness of the earth, and even some of us have had to suffer at first hand the tragic consequences of a nature doomed to destruction: hungry people without drinking water, landslides caused by erosion, forest fires induced by global warming and human irresponsibility, infertile fields do not satisfy the hunger of some natural disasters caused because the planet does not support more destruction and the laws of nature unleashed its fury, ecosystems destroyed causing oblivion of infinities Species of wild flora and unexpected turn stimulates wildlife exile to places that are not conditioned to their habitat and trigger the death of them. Undoubtedly, we are in urgent time to rethink the ecology and to put hands into action to stop this slaughter cosmic environment can still be rescued.

The text of “the Church in Colombia, a community walking in hope” [2] illustrates very well the issue of environmental concern and care for the environment. And is that the relationship between man and nature-creation of God, where men appear to occupy a privileged position within the work of creation with the divine imperative to “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish and subdue the earth” (cf. . Gn. 1, 28), is a subject that also interested in the Church and where the reader is invited to take a clear-cut lines from a good theological anthropology, for Christians to take a critical and respectful address the ecological crisis we live (. But, this perspective will be the subject of analysis and reflection in this work.

However, reflecting on the environmental crisis we have today and which in the first part we talked, we find that the environmental problem is a profound human problem, the ecological crisis is a problem because it concerns the life and development of the human person thus, if the ecological crisis will not affect directly or indirectly to man, would be problematic. Therefore, matters relating to the biota and nature, and more at this time of crisis, is a problem that directly questions the work of philosophical anthropology. The budget is basic anthropological: the ecological crisis of today is in a wrong conception of man, which places him as a center not only of nature but he does believe that absolute master of his environment to exploit and transform it as he pleases without measure, even leading him to forget about their “neighbors of habitat.” It is therefore unknown to modern man directly what their place in the cosmos. From this ignorance is that some dominant attitude in relation to his surroundings. Indeed, if all of us, large parts of humanity as a whole, to fully realize our duty and role in the cosmos, we worry about our home and care.

From another perspective, one man does not live on nothing but he is able to recognize as an inhabitant of a place and as being open to dialogue with others. Paraphrasing the words of Heidegger, “man is a being-in-the-world” [3]. It is at this moment in which we talk about the complex world of human relationships (which are in a relationship with God, with nature, with others and himself. From this budget, he must recognize that a being called to engage in dialogue and interaction with the biota because it is the only place they inhabit.Having the party and as a result of the ecological problem of anthropology, necessarily rested on a reflection of human behavior from an ethical, because man is the only person who has in his hands the opportunity to care or harm, exploit or take advantage of promote or devalue all the treasure that surrounds it and which it exists. It is also clear that the ecological problem that has arisen “implies the responsibility of human action on the environment of Earth, as a place of realization of man” [4]. Animals and other creatures on the planet have a place in the world, while man lives in the world, as only he, through the use of reason, gives this world of meaning, the man thus lives in a symbolic place inhabits his world “, which is also the world of other living beings. So says Joseph Gevaert: “The individual does not belong to a whole and organic material, but also a social and cultural totality” [5]. On the other hand, the hand of ethical human behavior on the planet, then “human freedom, which plays an important role with respect to nature. Destroying nature is to destroy as man and eliminate the possibility of realization,” [6 ]. Undoubtedly, the importance of caring nature is established in which man himself has only this planet earth to live, however, the damage it is giving way to the impending destruction, chaos reigns again original and where the conditions have not essential to the development of human and animal life.

Again the question arises: what then is man’s place in the cosmos We know that man occupies a privileged place in the cosmos, because, as we said above, it is he who gives sense and meaning all around him also he is the only being of the biosphere that can “think” and “projected” in reality there to begin a transformation of the world. Clearly we see that although the man shares certain characteristics with animals, especially biological, there is a large divergence between the two that defines the identity of the first. Ramon Lucas Lucas “the animal is immersed in their own natural habitat, the man may instead be separated and opposed to nature. Nature is not just to man a useful purpose, but the place of its realization [7]. Therefore, the man is not a simple species most in shaping the nature, is not a mere spectator of what happens in the cosmos by its own laws, nor is it a being “disconnected” or “unaware” of its environment, Nor is the absolute master and owner of the cosmos, he is the guardian of the cosmos, because he recognizes in the world his only place of performance (. “The man is no longer only host of this world or of the disinterested spectator, but is the world […] “[8].

Although, if we mark the ontological difference between humans and other living things, we must take care to exalt the idea of nature and speak strongly of it, presenting the man as a being in the great natural set. At that time, we fall into an “anthropological paradox” because defeat the being of man, the giver of meaning. “Man can not become an object of nature, this would lead to the destruction of himself and of the same nature. Its position in the cosmos is dynamic and creative” [9]. Thus, only when man becomes aware of its real membership in the world but also of its place in the cosmos and its responsibility in this, you can start a healthy and integral transformation to the environment that today feels suffocated by so much abuse and injury. We have often abused the global ecosystem on the pretext of human progress and welfare. But it is this really progress We can speak of progress when we benefit us the damage done to our younger siblings So the progress that entire ecosystems demands end to acquire the raw material of unnecessary products we consume today is a lie of the capitalist system. In fact, “thinking about the environment is revealed as part of a crisis of human rationality, pointing out the limits of the ideas of development and progress as well as the end of the optimism that advocated blind faith in the goodness of science and technology “[10]. And if we return to the Greek concept of cosmos ( S) Find that nature is the cosmic order itself is pure harmony, and harmony as it is, everything that goes against the order of nature is bad [11 ]

In conclusion, care for the environment, the healthy transformation of the world and the exploitation of natural resources necessarily lead man to take a vigilant stance of one environment, but also fall in the “eco fashion” that the only thing is intended economic benefit of the intersection by crossing the “biota” nor a ecocentrism pantheism which deprives man of the dignity proper to give the moving nature and hence it the proper place of man in the cosmos. Therefore, there is the interpretation of man as dominating and overwhelming center of nature, nor is the understanding of the greatness of nature over the same man (the only carrier sense), is the conception of man as “guardian of the cosmos “because it recognizes in nature his only place of performance.


[1] LUCAS LUCAS, Ramon. Vertical Horizon: Sense and Meaning of the Human Person. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 2008. p. 234

[2] BISHOPS OF COLOMBIA. The Church in Colombia, a community walking in hope. Bogota: Episcopal Conference of Colombia, 2008.

[3] To extend this work we compare the analysis that the Colombian Church in the work mentioned above with respect to the environmental reality of our nation, and on a larger scale of our planet. To do this, we return to Chapter II “The life of our nation through the eyes of disciples in mission”, paragraphs 102 to 108, and pastoral commitments arising in the chapter IV “Committed to our people may have life in Christ”, sections 197 and 198. Similarly, we can refer to Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for World Day XLIII Peace, which took place on January 1, 2010, under the motto “If you want to promote peace, protect creation.”

[4] Heidegger, Martin. Sein und Zeit. (Being and Time). Cited by: Hirschberger, Johannes. History of Philosophy. Volume II: Early Modern to Modern Times. Barcelona: Herder, 1981. p. 431

[5] Or, “Epistemological Triangle” as it’s called from the philosophy of the humanities and social sciences. And epistemological triangle is called precisely because of the relationship that man establishes with the Other, the Others and the other is where we are going to structure the main sciences of philosophy and humanities. These sciences are presented as an opportunity to address all human problems understanding the man and the giver of meaning to reality and himself. So when it comes to the relationship with the Other (God) is where you structure metaphysics, theology and theodicy. When speaking of the Other (man) is where Axiology structure, Anthropology, Philosophy and Psychology. Finally, when talking about the other (world) is where science is structured and the Philosophy of Science, Theory of Knowledge, Cosmology, Physics, Mathematics and Biology.

[6] Lucas, op., P. 253

[7] GEVAERT, Joseph. The Problem of Man: An Introduction to Philosophical Anthropology. Salamanca: Follow Me, 1978. p. 119

[8] NATIONAL BIOETHICS COMMITTEE OF THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC. Bioethics and Environment. Cited by: LUCAS LUCAS, Ramon. Vertical Horizon: Sense and Meaning of the Human Person. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 2008. p. 234

[9] Lucas, op. p. 234

[10] The idea of the world as one place of human fulfillment constitutes a basis for the care of the surroundings. In this regard, Joseph Gevaert states the following in his book “The Problem of Man: An Introduction to Philosophical Anthropology:” The matter is presented as the material entrusted to man as a field and space of its realization. The first man has the responsibility to situations in which it moves. ” (P. 118)

[11] GEVAERT, Joseph. Op. p. 117