تفکر سنتی چینی و عمل : درس هایی برای جهان بینی اقتصاد محیط زیست
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8688||2002||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 40, Issue 1, January 2002, Pages 39–52
This paper argues the need for a moral dimension, lacking in the neo-classical paradigm, to humanity's relationship with the natural world. Against this background, it reviews Chinese philosophical/religious traditions of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, neo-Confucianism, and popular religious practice. The Chinese worldview derived from these traditions is based on ideals of harmony, human perfectibility and systemic fit within natural systems and processes. However, it also contains strong worldly and utilitarian elements at the popular level, and environmental degradation in modern China is explained in terms of recent increases in the importance of the pragmatic over the ideal. The paper concludes that Chinese traditions offer conceptual resources for ecological thinking by placing economics within a wider socio-ecological fabric, emphasising soft technologies, challenging meta-economic assumptions, and encouraging systemic wisdom.
‘When man's power over nature was very restricted, he was protected by the cushion of dreams’ (Claude Lévi-Strauss) Humanity's reactions to the environmental ‘crisis’ have resurrected a fundamental moral question swept under the carpet by the Cartesian broom. Does humanity accept its intrinsic part in the natural order, or will it continue as an alien interloper (Botkin, 1991) with a ‘consciousness of non-participation’ (Berman, 1981) in the rhythms of nature? Such a question goes beyond rationality and self-interest and therefore lies largely outside the neo-classical thinking which determines much of our social, economic, political and institutional organisation (although, for a contrary view of the usefulness of neo-classical economics, see Turner et al., 1994). Rationality implies analysis, instrumentality and the exclusion of intuitive and moral considerations from decision-making, thereby undermining the possibility of an apprehension of the natural world which is experiential and participatory (Wilber, 1981). Yet, human decisions which affect the environment—e.g. the future of a species or the environmental features available to future generations—involve ethical choices that cannot be resolved by ‘rational’ or ‘utilitarian’ economic calculations involving monetary valuation, discounting and the allocation of individual resources (Hamilton, 1994). Environmentalism goes beyond concern for irreversible transformations of the natural world by exploring the wider implications of humanity's loss of cosmic unity and humanity's need to establish a ‘post-rational’ and less ‘autistic’ (Berry, 1988) relationship with the natural world. Such explorations recognise psychological/spiritual (as well as material/social) well-being and extend the field of ethics beyond humanity to include Leopold's (1994) ‘biotic community’. In creating new paradigms to deepen the moral sensitivity of the ‘enlightenment mentality’ (Tu, 1998a) and resurrect the ‘cushion of dreams’ made redundant by technological progress, it seems appropriate to examine less familiar philosophical, religious and moral traditions characterised by ‘consciousness of participation’ and potentially sensitive to ecological harmony. Rationality, after all, can be used to provide humanity with the possibility of an ethic of responsibility towards nature (Berger, 1980). This paper adopts the premise that such traditions may offer conceptual resources for understanding issues of interest to ecological economics and for guiding humanity's responses. Traditions can assist in the identification and clarification of moral truths intuitively felt by humanity, but inadequately addressed by neo-classical thinking—such thinking, for example, only articulates part of the value that humanity finds in nature. Further, traditions may provide reasons, incentives or capacities for particular types of behaviour—related, for example, to ecological harmony or social responsibility. From a sociological perspective, inherited cultural traditions provide humanity with ‘tool-kits’ of symbols, knowledge and practices which can be useful resources in constructing strategies of action for social change (Swidler, 1986). Social movement theory builds upon this to go beyond a simple utilitarian belief that only micro-economic incentives inspire collective action: taking a ‘social psychology’ perspective of socially and culturally embedded actors (Mueller, 1992), it identifies cultural framing and the role of ideational aspects in the diagnostic, prognostic and motivational dimensions of collective consensual action (Snow and Benford, 1992). In this light, Chinese traditions may offer opportunities in the face of ecological crisis—encouragingly, the Chinese for ‘crisis’ (wei-chi1) is made up of the characters for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. Detailed study of Chinese ‘mental encounters’ with the environment is lacking (Worster, 1993), despite the common perception that the ‘oriental’ worldview is characterised by non-duality of humanity and cosmos and concern for harmony rather than conflict (Vachon, 1983). If such study is to have value in the ecological economics context, it must take account of why Chinese traditions have singularly failed to halt environmental degradation where they have flourished, how value convergence might be established between the environmental ethic inherent in Chinese traditions and that implicit in the main principles of ecological economics, and how Chinese traditions might exert practical influence on academic thought, public policy and private behaviour. In this paper, ‘high’ Chinese philosophical traditions are reviewed in order to extract the essence of Chinese élitist thought, and ‘low’ Chinese ethical traditions are considered in order to provide an insight into popular practice. The Chinese worldview is then examined in order to derive lessons for ecological economics, concentrating on some core areas of economic thinking and exploring some of the implications.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
‘Are there elements in China's cultural tradition which—not only for China but the world at large—can continue to live today and retain their value? Or is the difference in environment so great that, except as museum pieces, they have lost their relevancy?’ (Bodde, 1957, p. 85). Given its potential for modifying its natural surroundings, humanity has developed various cognitive frameworks designed to conceptualise environmental context, store environmental knowledge, and provide rules of behaviour (Lovelace, 1985). The moral poverty of the neo-classical paradigm in social science suggests we take up Bodde's questions and examine non-Western frameworks for conceptual resources appropriate to ecological economic ethics in the current age. Such ethics may involve both ‘eastern’ insights of holism, harmony and balance, and ‘western’ contributions of empirical understanding and wise ecological management. Rolston (1987), pessimistically, questions whether pre-scientific traditions can provide prescriptions for post-scientific problems such as the need for sustainable development. Tu (1998a), more optimistically, suggests that although the ‘enlightenment mentality’ of the Western worldview may not be replaceable, it can be deepened by the introduction of unfamiliar ideas: philosophical/religious traditions are not simply historical sedimentations in the modern consciousness, but potential enabling forces for re-shaping modernity. Confucianism, for example, with its anthropocosmic view of embedded relationships, suggests notions of ‘inclusive community’ which both critique modernist over-emphasis on individual liberation from the past's constraining limitations, and provide conceptualisation of an organised infrastructure between individual and State. Although the central values and concepts of Chinese traditions were formulated in pre-modern times, they preserve pre-industrial knowledge, can be contrasted critically with current values and concepts, can resonate with newly developing conceptual frameworks, and may contain cultural resources which contribute to current socio-economic and environmental policy, post-industrial sustainability, and a new moral ecology. The essence of the difference between Chinese and Western views of the natural world is that the former tends to find reality in relation and explanation in structure, whereas the latter tends to find reality in substance and explanation in mechanics ( Needham, 1956 and Ronan, 1978). “The notion of humanity as forming one body with the universe has been so widely accepted by the Chinese, in popular as well as élite culture, that it can well be characterised as a general Chinese worldview” (Tu, 1998b). A Chinese perspective suggests that ecological crises result from distortion in the appropriateness of humanity's pragmatic responses to natural situations through failures of ‘systemic fit’ and self-cultivation (Kalton, 1998), or through ‘cultural imbalance’ brought about by the dominance of yang characteristics over yin ones (a feature of Western culture over the last three centuries—Capra, 1982). A Taoist interpretation suggests that cultural imbalance and lack of systemic fit have occurred because of the economic scale as well as method of humanity's economic activity (Daly, 1996), such that human activities are increasingly no longer shaped by, or in harmony with, natural systems. A neo-Confucian interpretation stresses the need for self-cultivation in the face of modern ‘technologically empowered desire’ (Kalton, 1998) in order to re-establish awareness of normative patterning in natural systems and processes. More fundamentally, traditional Chinese values accord with much modern organicist thinking in philosophy and natural science. Several instances of direct Chinese influence on Western thought can be traced, including Leibniz's organismic ideas, Teilhard de Chardin's mystic theology, and Whitehead, 1929, Whitehead, 1938 and Whitehead, 1971 process metaphysics and holistic philosophy of organism, with its vision of nature as a creative continuum of living events linked by causal relations. Such unitary vision is increasingly adopted in post-Newtonian physical science (Capra, 1982; Ronan, 1978) and in systems theory, but it has yet to be properly confronted in neo-classical social science. In many important respects, Chinese communities outside today's mainland China are the ‘guardians’ of traditional Chinese thinking and, for many such overseas Chinese, the neo-Confucian synthesis continues to define Chinese culture. This worldview suggests particular Chinese moral and ethical characteristics (Bodde, 1991) based on harmony (between the human and the cosmic, within society, and within the self) and human self-perfectibility. These characteristics include: historical evaluation according to the morality of events as much as to the ‘facts’ of geography and economics, artistic evaluation according to moral message, human- and society-centeredness which preclude methodologies for the exploitative study of nature, antipathy to warfare and political expansionism, approval of frugality and simplicity in living and thought, distrust of technology, particularly that conducive to extravagance and frivolity rather than to everyday welfare improvements, and distrust of individualism. Like Needham (1956), Bodde (1991) was primarily interested in the ‘unfavourable’ effects of such values on Chinese science and technology, suggesting that they have potentially inhibited the exploitative tendencies attributed to technology by modern environmental concern. In addition, some of these characteristics clearly reflect social conditions: underlying the approval of frugality, for example, are traditional difficulties in meeting material needs among China's large population, such that conspicuous consumption is traditionally derided (Yang, 1961). The rest of this paper continues this theme with respect to ‘high’ Chinese traditions and ecological economics and its supporting ethic. Traditional Chinese thought can bring differences of view in three key areas. First, it reinforces the ecological economics insight (e.g. Ekins and Max-Neef, 1992) that ‘the economy’ is one dimension within a wider socio-ecological fabric. Appreciation of all-pervading inter-dependence within a living economic-social-ecological system brings recognition that private decisions almost always involve impacts (whether positive or negative, slight or substantial) upon third parties, a recognition that dramatically heightens the importance of ‘externalities’ in economic activity. Such a view suggests, for example, that over-emphasis on individual rights, especially in consumption and reproduction (Gross, 1997), can threaten the supportive matrix of life, and this possibly underlies the thinking that devised, justified and supported the ‘one-child policy’ in mainland China. The fragmentary and reductionist perspective of neo-classical economics, which takes its method from classical physics (Capra, 1982), lacks explicit recognition of such inter-dependence and its implications. Second, the Chinese tradition suggests a view of ‘the economy’ (and its wider socio-ecological fabric) as dynamic, evolving, cybernetic, synergistic and in continual interaction. Underlying the neo-classical focus, however, is a simple view of linear progression based on Cartesian and Newtonian notions of infinite space and time. The difference is especially stark with regard to technological growth: a finite environment requires a dynamic balance of growth and decline and of yang and yin values, while an over-emphasis on yang values leads to fragmented, manipulative, assertive and centralised technological reliance divorced from its holistic, co-operative, integrative and localised counterpart. The Chinese view reinforces the importance of ‘soft technologies’ (Capra, 1982) such as social agreement, co-operation, conflict resolution and wealth redistribution—such technologies are supported by Chinese thought patterns which provide a facility for merging seemingly conflicting elements into harmonious unification. Chinese legal and business systems, for example, show a disdain for uncompromising attitudes and a preference for mediation, accommodation, an absence of dogmatic certainty, and an egalitarian attitude towards adversaries (Creel, 1987). Soft technologies also include renewable energy generation, organic farming methods, materials recycling, and localisation of activity and decision-making, and such sustainable rural technologies have been in evidence in China down to modern times (King, 1933). Third, the Chinese tradition highlights the avoidance in neo-classical economics of the moral issues and values subsumed in ‘meta-economic assumptions’ (Schumacher, 1973) about human nature, institutional structures and power configurations. Such avoidance has important outcomes, such as an economic system that seeks consumption maximisation under optimal patterns of production, an inevitability concerning wealth and poverty distribution within and between nations, and reliance on cost–benefit analysis to convert moral and social choices into pseudo-technical ones. Variation in the meta-economic assumptions and shifts from Cartesian to holistic paradigms (as in many other sciences) might yield very different economic outcomes. A ‘traditional Chinese’ economic model, for example, would seek to maximise well-being under optimal patterns of consumption which take account of the inevitable social and ecological externalities of economies embedded in wider fabrics. Traditional Chinese thought suggests value in ecological revision of many basic economic concepts, conventionally defined without regard to the socio-ecological context of economies. These revisions include attempts to re-define ‘national income’ towards non-monetary aspects of the economy, ‘efficiency’ to take account of socio-environmental costs, and ‘wealth’ to include aspects of human enrichment beyond material accumulation. Above all, the Chinese tradition poses questions about the nature of ‘work’ in an ecological economy. Conventionally, in modern society, work which leaves tangible evidence of effort (e.g. capital-intensive production or investment) yields more status and reward than work without lasting impact (e.g. traditional activities or maintenance). Yet, the latter often has higher ‘spiritual value’—i.e. value reflected in the importance attributed by Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and other traditions to work in which the physical evidence of effort is most easily destroyed by natural process (e.g. cleaning, housework and gardening), or to activities which leave no ecological footprint (e.g. social work). Such activity is more likely to incorporate wu-wei, reflect socio-ecological awareness, and recognise the natural li of the universe, insights which question the nature of ‘productive employment’ in an ecological economic society. Finally, traditional Chinese perspectives suggest a systems approach to economic thinking. Systems, including economic systems within wider socio-ecological fabrics, are wholes whose specific structures arise from the interactions between, and the interdependencies of, their parts. When economic systems are modelled, for neo-classical analytical purposes, by dissection into isolated components, vital systemic properties are overlooked. A Chinese perspective encourages ‘systemic wisdom’ (Bateson, 1972) in which economies are intrinsically dynamic systems which are self-organising, stable and reflective of underlying processes and universal interdependence. Such a view can give economics the socio-ecological perspective lacking in neo-classical analysis, and challenges the primacy of linear causal modelling by stressing the functional interdependencies of social, ecological and economic embeddedness. The implications of systemic wisdom applied to economics are far-reaching. The non-linear nature of system dynamics requires emphasis on optimal system size rather than maximisation of single variables (e.g. GNP or profit). Systemic inter-connectedness suggests the importance of both continual resource recycling and preservation of social and ecological flexibility through diverse economic structures. The dynamic interplay of complementary tendencies within self-organising systems suggests importance in reconciling conflicts, such as those between small-scale local decentralised enterprises and globalisation. The embeddedness of economies within wider fabrics suggests reduced importance for economics as a basis for national and global policies, and the complementing of monetary valuation in macro-economic analyses by alternatives (e.g. energy measures). The systemic need for balance and harmony suggests a recognition that the crucial dimension of scarcity is existential rather than economic (Weisskopf, 1971), bringing a substantial shift of emphasis from competitiveness to social justice, ‘hard’ to ‘soft’ technologies, growth and expansion to conservation, and material acquisition to inner human development.