Placing the Ecological Crisis in a Broader Context: The Orphic and the Promethean

David Anthony Pittaway

Abstract


The historical prevalence of Promethean characteristics such as dominion and domination has resulted in a dispensation where exclusive pragmatism and habitual perception have steered human actions in directions that have resulted in an unprecedented ecological crisis. Christianity, reductionist science, pragmatic technology, and capitalism have homogenised discursive arenas, limiting the extent to which one can exercise negative freedom, and making ecological degradation unavoidable as a consequence of Promethean progress. Mechanisms exist that prevent changes toward ecologically-sensitive attitudes from rooting and spreading as remedies to Promethean attitudes. Alternative, Orphic attitudes, theories, and movements do exist, and they offer something of a response to Promethean attitudes underpinning the ecological crisis. Permaculture offers a down to earth, context-bound approach to establishing Orphic systems, while philosophy in two specific formats are tools to further broaden the context of the ecological crisis. These philosophical formats are, first, Badiou and Žižek’s outline of the role of philosophy “in the present,” and second, Pierre Hadot’s work on philosophy as a way of life. From the first, it is clear that philosophy cannot confine itself to humanity as it has been historically constituted, which implies that it cannot confine itself to the realm of the Promethean, which has dominated Western history. From the second, philosophy as a way of life entails a breakaway from Promethean, utilitarian, and habitual perception, and aligns itself with an Orphic form of consciousness.


Keywords


positive and negative freedom; shapers of discourse; pragmatism and utilitarianism; permaculture; dialectical process; philosophy in the present; philosophy as a way of life; Promethean; Orphic

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/2413-3086/4508

Copyright (c) 2018 David Anthony Pittaway

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