مالتوس در مقابل وردزورث: دیدگاه روی نوع بشر، طبیعت و اقتصاد.کمک به تاریخ و مبانی اقتصاد محیط زیست
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8733||2005||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 53, Issue 3, 15 May 2005, Pages 299–310
In this paper, the view of humankind and nature upon which the thinking of Malthus is founded will be reflected on and contrasted with the opposed understanding of his contemporary Wordsworth. We show that the economic considerations of both are based decidedly on the premise of these views, and that their alternative interpretations of the contemporary economy and the relationship between economy and nature may thus be explained. From the comparison of Malthus and Wordsworth, we draw conclusions for modern ecological economics, identifying its Malthusian understanding of nature and reflecting on the capacities and limits implied for further research. We ascribe a central role in the conceptual history of ecological economics to Wordsworth and present his philosophical presumptions as a fruitful alternative for ecological economics. Finally, attention will be drawn to the principle importance of the philosophical foundations underpinning this field of research.
Two thinkers are to be compared in this essay: Thomas Robert Malthus (1766–1834) and William Wordsworth (1770–1850). The comparison leads to new perspectives on the history and foundations of ecological–economic thought. This pertains to three issues in particular: (i) The interrelationship between ecological economics and classical economic theory. (ii) The understanding of nature and humankind upon which research in ecological economics is founded. (iii) The scientific self-image of this field of research. In addressing these points, we adhere to standard definitions and regard ecological economics as a subject which is concerned with the relationship between economy and nature, the causes of modern environmental problems and enquires after a sustained compatibility of economy and nature (Costanza, 1989, Costanza, 1991 and Proops, 1989: 60; Faber et al., 1996: 1ff; Edwards-Jones et al., 2000: 3). The reference to Malthus in ecological economics is not new. This discipline has regularly been seen as standing in the tradition of classical economics (Christensen, 1989 and Costanza et al., 1997: 19ff; Spash, 1999) and in this regard, has also been referred to Malthus (Christensen, 1989: 20; Daly, 1996: 3f; Costanza et al., 1997: 25f). However, the connection to Malthus has not yet been thoroughly explored. Here, this paper makes a contribution by reflecting on the relationship between ecological economics and Malthusian thought. Malthus published his most important work An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798. At the centre of this is his thesis that population growth is necessarily restricted by the limitations of the natural environment. Several contributions to ecological economics refer to this premise (see e.g. Daly, 1996: 119ff). It should be noted, though, that Malthus' economic thought is framed in a very specific philosophical and theological context, and is thus marked by a specific view of nature and humankind (see Section 2). An appreciation of this context and its meaning for Malthus, is necessary for a proper understanding of his economic considerations. In this way, however, the relationship between ecological economics and Malthusian thought is illuminated and also gains in significance. In order to highlight this and furthermore, to present another horizon for the conceptual foundations of ecological economics, Malthus' views will be compared in this paper with those of his contemporary William Wordsworth.1 In the same year as Malthus' Essay appeared, Wordsworth published the Lyrical Ballads together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834). This is generally considered the beginning of English Romanticism and Wordsworth is viewed as a distinguished poet of this movement. Like Malthus, Wordsworth experienced the beginning of the modern economy (the industrial revolution) and modern economic thought (the classical political economy). As a result, he was witness to the same economic reality as Malthus; he provides, however, a very different interpretation. This is a direct consequence of the fact that Wordsworth's considerations on economics are imbedded in an entirely different philosophical context.2 Wordsworth's conception of nature and humankind enables him to offer an alternative account of nature in his considerations on economics, than is possible for Malthus and the classical thinkers in general. He is thus able to gain different insights into the relationship between nature and economy: he recognises a fundamental conflict between humankind and nature inherent in the ideological foundations of the modern economy. As a result of theoretical and philosophical reflections, he considers nature to be fundamentally endangered. Already at the end of the 18th Century, his thinking uncovers possible roots of the modern environmental crisis.3 These are, in his view, already integral parts of the fabric of the modern economy. In this respect, Wordsworth can be regarded an early ecologic critic of the modern economy. This paper's contribution to ecological economics extends to the following questions: (i) How may a connection between ecological economics and the thought of Malthus be considered? (ii) What is the significance of Wordsworth's perspective for ecological economics? Is his analysis of the relationship between economy and nature, and his account of nature, a more suitable point of reference for ecological economics than the thinking of Malthus? (iii) How is the philosophical context of the relationship between economy and nature conceived in ecological economics in general? What, for example, is the significance of nature within this discipline? Which implications follow with respect to its scientific status? We begin our argument in Section 2 with an outline of Malthus' view of nature and humankind as well as his theological ideas. Accordingly, in Section 3, Wordsworth's general philosophical concept will be introduced. Against this background, the economic considerations of Wordsworth and Malthus – especially their considerations on the relationship between economy and nature – will be analysed and compared in 4 and 5. Finally, in Section 6, conclusions for the history of thought and the philosophical foundations of ecological economics will be drawn.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The considerations of Malthus and Wordsworth are based on very different philosophical and theological foundations. Their different understandings of the relationship between human beings and nature, and ultimately their whole economic conception, arise out of this disparity. From the comparison of Malthus and Wordsworth, it becomes apparent that the enquiry into the relationship between the economy and nature, which is at the centre of modern ecological economics, depends substantially on the underlying image of humankind and nature. While Malthus viewed the economy of the time as a logical result of the natural order of the world, Wordsworth identified in it a moment of alienation between humankind and nature. This makes Wordsworth's considerations an important source of historic thought for ecological economics. At present, however, much of ecological economics is based on an image of nature which is best described as Malthusian. In particular, this is expressed in the important discussion surrounding the significance of the laws of thermodynamics for the relationship between economy and nature. Following Georgescu-Roegen (1971), the second theorem of thermodynamics plays a key role in ecological economics. With respect to this, a necessary restriction and limitation of economic processes is derived as a result of the physical laws of nature (see Daly, 1980, Daly, 1996 and Faber et al., 1995; Ecological Economics 22 (1997), Special Issue). The guideline of Malthus' image of nature is reflected in these considerations in as far as nature is also comprehended as an objective structure abiding given laws, which confronts humankind with a necessary condition and absolute outer limit of his economic activity13 (see also Isenmann, 2003a). This is clearly a very important insight concerning the relationship between economy and nature. Ecological economics has thus revealed a necessary determination of the economy through the laws of thermodynamics. This determination has been recognised as a central aspect of the relation between economy and nature, and its consideration as a necessary condition of sustainable development. However, this perspective denotes only one aspect of the relationship between economy and nature. There are other aspects which cannot be recognised within the thermodynamic view of nature. The thermodynamic perspective thus leads to a restricted idea of compatibility between nature and economy: a juxtaposition of economy and nature, based on a limitation of economic activity. In this perspective, other and further-reaching ideas of compatibility are difficult to conceive. These restrictions become especially apparent and problematic when the human actor, in an economic context, is concurrently interpreted as a homo oeconomicus, i.e. as a selfish and rational utility maximiser.14 He is then forced to restrict his own self-interest, wherever the limits of nature place an external constraint upon him. A compatibility of economy and nature then only appears to be possible if the homo oeconomicus surrenders his self-interest in face of these external constraints, which are placed upon him by nature's boundaries. An alternative idea of compatibility, based on an inner unity of both, seems to be unthinkable in the context of the homo oeconomicus15 and the Malthusian view of nature. That this understanding of the human being, nature and economy is not sufficient for an encompassing modern enquiry into the compatibility of economy and nature becomes evident from Wordsworth's ideas. The differences between Wordsworth's and Malthus' views highlight the fact that, on the basis of a Malthusian comprehension of nature and economy, neither the causes of modern environmental problems may be fully understood, nor an encompassing compatibility of economy and nature achieved. At the same time, Wordsworth offers a further important perspective on this issue. His considerations point out that a conceptualisation of sustainable compatibility has to be related to a different understanding of nature, humankind and the economy. Wordsworth considers nature as a point of reference for humankind. Not by turning away from nature does humankind fulfil its destiny (as by Malthus), but by turning to and orientating itself on her. This orientation on nature is, for Wordsworth, an essential condition of a good life. With this perspective, Wordsworth abandons the modern understanding of nature put forward by Bacon and Malthus, in as much as humankind and nature are not viewed in conflict with one another but in harmony. In this regard, nature no longer remains an outer restriction for humankind (as by Malthus), but represents a source of inner orientation. For Wordsworth, a good life is inseparably connected to an interrelationship with nature. This requires an encounter with and a respect for nature. Respect for nature is not merely based on external norms or an unexplained, inherent value of nature, but is an integral aspect of human existence and a good life. This means a self-understanding of the human being, which directly entwines the perfected being of humankind with an orientation on and respect for nature, could become part of a suitable understanding of the human actor in ecological economics (see Becker, 2003). In his pursuit of economic activity, he would appreciate nature as an integral feature of his good life. From this perspective, nature is more than just a consumption good or factor of production, serving human purposes or representing a physical condition of economic activity. Instead, nature is elevated to humankind's point of reference and with that, also serves as an orientation for his economic activity.16 Given the above, Wordsworth's economic considerations may be ascribed an important position in the history of thought on ecological economics: Wordsworth explicitly concentrates on the significance of the economy for nature and the relationship between nature and humankind. He addresses the compatibility of economy and nature, and develops the idea of an orientation of economic activity on nature. On the other hand, Wordsworth criticises the economic view of his time and its philosophical foundations—particularly the classical economic view. He observes specific and new structures in the modern economy which cause an inherent alienation of humankind and nature: the individual pursuit of profit and a primary orientation on self-interest. A crisis in the relationship between humankind and nature is seen to be the result. With this, nature is no longer appreciated as a point of reference, but becomes an object of the economic process. For Wordsworth, this leads to a loss of the good life: Human actions become groundless and excessive and the human being a mere object of the economic process. Wordsworth offers an alternative understanding of nature which leaves behind the confined structures of the modern economic understanding, and precisely through this, enables a remarkable insight into the causes of modern environmental problems. These lie in the alienation of modern economic man from nature, in the separation of his economic production from its original creational orientation on her. However, this insight is repressed as long as ecological economics operates only within a Malthusian understanding of nature and exclusively takes the homo oeconomicus approach. Ecological economics is therefore in need of a critical reflection on its own (often subconscious) understanding of nature and the human actor, in order to avoid unconsidered presuppositions, which are inadequate or too narrow for success in its research task. In the considerations presented here, the importance of a philosophical foundation of ecological economics is demonstrated. Such a foundation is essential in an interdisciplinary field of research which encompasses as many aspects as ecological economics aspires to. Every scientific line of study is build upon presumptions, and in the case of ecological economics, these include such fundamentals as the understanding of nature and humankind. These inevitably entail a philosophical dimension. As a result, philosophy and the humanities in general, should be an integral part of ecological economics. Not in the sense that they should replace scientific research, but in the sense that they should shed light on the context in which the scientific research in ecological economics is set. Ecological economics should therefore include philosophical and ethical questions far more rigorously in the scope of its study. It should represent a discipline which portrays its foundations, especially its philosophical presuppositions, in a particularly explicit way, and allows for, and encourages, critical reflection of these presuppositions.