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Orr’s “Love It or Lose It: The Coming Biophilia Revolution”

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Presentation on theme: "Orr’s “Love It or Lose It: The Coming Biophilia Revolution”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Orr’s “Love It or Lose It: The Coming Biophilia Revolution”
HMXP 102 Dr. Fike

2 David W. Orr Like Naess, Orr was heavily influenced by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Orr is the chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College in Ohio. He gives dozens of lectures around the country every year on environmental issues. His paternal grandfather was Rev. W. W. Orr of Charlotte, NC. Source:

3 Biophobia How does Orr define biophobia?  See pars. 2 and 11.

4 Par. 7 What characteristics of biophobia does Orr list here?

5 Characteristics of Biophobia in par. 7
The world is not “alive and worthy of respect, if not fear.” Distance yourself from animals (“mere machines”). Have no sympathy for nature: think of it only in scientific and economic terms. Join power, money, knowledge in order to make nature useful. Stress improvement and “perpetual economic growth.” Cultivate dissatisfaction that can be alleviated only by “mass consumption.”

6 The Other Orientation: Biophilia
How does the notion of a “biophilia revolution” relate to Naess’s “deep ecology” (next slide)? See the definition in pars. 4 and 5. In what ways do you think that biophilia and deep ecology (next slide) are similar/different? Let’s approach this question via the exercise on the following slide.

7 Exercise Arrange the following terms (here randomly organized) in a hierarchy from most bio-friendly to least bio-friendly. Biophobia Biophilia Deep Ecology Conservation Ecosophy Leavers Takers Consumerism Stewardship

8 Biofriendliness scale
Leavers (animals)--Action Deep Ecology/Biophilia/Ecosophy--Attitude Conservation—Action and attitude (ethic) Biophobia--Attitude Takers (humans)--Action Bad news: Consumerism (attitude and action) pervades 2-5 but affects even 1. Good news: stewardship also pervades 2-5.

9 Characteristics of Deep Ecology
Reverence for all of life An emotional connection to other species Democratic spirit Reduction of human population to sustainable numbers Reversal of damage Biodiversity and symbiosis Long-range view The Self > the ego Religious/ethical component

10 World Views The next few slides help you explore WHY we arrived at the six characteristics of biophobia. Note that the numbers correspond to the numbers on the next slide.

11 Characteristics of Biophobia in par. 7
The world is not “alive and worthy of respect, if not fear.” Distance yourself from animals (“mere machines”). Have no sympathy for nature: think of it only in scientific and economic terms. Join power, money, knowledge in order to make nature useful. Stress improvement and “perpetual economic growth.” Cultivate dissatisfaction that can be alleviated only by “mass consumption.”

12 Re. #2: René Descartes (1596-1650)
Al Gore, Earth in the Balance, page 228:  "The Cartesian approach to the human story allows us to believe that we are separate from the earth, entitled to view it as nothing more than an inanimate collection of resources that we can exploit however we like; and this fundamental misperception has led us to our current crisis.  “One of the deepest and most lasting legacies of Descartes’ philosophy is his thesis that mind and body are really distinct--a thesis now called ‘mind-body dualism.’ He reaches this conclusion by arguing that the nature of the mind (that is, a thinking, non-extended thing) is completely different from that of the body (that is, an extended, non-thinking thing), and therefore it is possible for one to exist without the other.” Source:

13 Homology Descartes Environment Mind:body::humans:nature
POINT: There is disconnection on each side of the homology. What Descartes says about mind and body also applies to humans and nature.

14 Re. #4: Francis Bacon ( ) Par. 7: “Francis Bacon provided the logic, and the evolution of government-funded research did the rest.” “To take the place of the established tradition (a miscellany of Scholasticism, humanism, and natural magic), he proposed an entirely new system based on empirical and inductive principles and the active development of new arts and inventions, a system whose ultimate goal would be the production of practical knowledge for ‘the use and benefit of men’ and the relief of the human condition.” Source:

15 Re. #1, 3, 5, and 6: Consumerism What do you make of the obvious connection to Swimme, “the sophisticated cultivation of dissatisfaction”? Swimme: “But at a deeper level, what we need to confront is a power of the advertiser to promulgate a worldview, a mini-cosmology, that is based upon dissatisfaction and craving” (par. 6). Orr: Par. 7: “Sixth, biophobia required the sophisticated cultivation of dissatisfaction, which could be converted into mass consumption.” Par. 10: “Beneath each of these endeavors lies a barely concealed contempt for unaltered life and nature, as well as contempt for the people who are expected to endure the mistakes, purchase the results, and live with the consequences, whatever those may be. It is a contempt disguised by terms of bamboozlement, like bottom line, progress, needs, costs and benefits, economic growth, jobs, realism, research, and knowledge, words that go undefined and unexplained. Par. 16: People “must come to see their bondage as freedom and their discontents as commercially solvable problems.”

16 A Troubling Contrast Par. 8: What metaphors besides "board feet, tons, barrels, yield," etc. do we use to talk about nature?  Can you come up with others? Par. 17: What does Orr say about “stewardship”? What metaphors are more in line with stewardship?

17 Sample Nature Metaphors
Here are some areas (nouns and adjectives) to get you started. Garden Resource Divine Wilderness Pristine Female Source:

18 Question How can we be good stewards of nature when we have the wrong metaphors to describe our relationship to it? Perhaps by changing our metaphors: Argument as war vs. argument as dance (Lakoff and Johnson) Our relationship to nature is USE vs. our relationship to nature is ____________.

19 A Further Problem Not only metaphor is off. In addition, we tell ourselves the wrong myths about nature. Par. 6: This par. mentions myth twice. Let us consider the whole par. What kind of myths do we have about nature? Cf. Gore’s emphasis on “story.”

20 Paul Bunyan and Babe

21 Paul Bunyan

22 Paul Bunyan Source for the previous two slides:

23 Myths About Man and Nature
(BH) (FDB) (L) (B) (RFK)

24 The Upshot Par. 11: “Biophobia sets into motion a vicious cycle…”:  This sentence describes the notion of “feedback loop.”  The idea is that a biophobic orientation feeds itself. Fortunately, that would probably work for biophilia as well.

25 Examples Two microphones
Gore’s film: Higher temperatures  arctic ice cap melts  more open water  higher temperatures  arctic ice cap melts, and so forth. Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: Example of public transportation in NYC. “The Box,” the Peabody Gym.

26 Topophilia: An Extension of Biophilia
Par. 20: loving the setting that is familiar to us. And there is hope in doing so because we want to preserve what we love. What is the relationship between topophilia and biophilia? Can there be one without the other?

27 A Third Orientation: The “‘free-rider problem’” in par. 12
Are you an environmental free-rider?  Do a Jeff Foxworthy thing:  “If your cell number doesn’t have anything to do with a telephone, you might be a redneck!” "If you(r) ____________, you might be an environmental free-rider."

28 Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas
Does the principle of repression apply to environmentalism?  If we continue to repress nature, will it bite us on the backside?  Here is Jesus, speaking in the Gospel of Thomas:  “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”  Is this true or false as regards the environment?  Cf. technology in the Aliens movies. The monster is the thing that is repressed.

29 Collective Shadow Par. 15: “is mass biophobia a kind of collective madness?” Is it, in other words, the environmental equivalent of a negative political movement like the Nazi party? How to address a problem in collective consciousness: Acknowledge it individually. Work locally. Hope for a tipping point.

30 Lewis Thomas, “Antaeus [an-tee-uhs] in Manhattan”
“But I think it was chiefly the plastic [that was at fault in the death of the ant colony on display in Manhattan], which seems to me the most unearthly of all man’s creations so far. I do not believe you can suspend army ants away from the earth, on plastic, for any length of time. They will lose touch, run out of energy, and die for lack of current” (The Lives of a Cell 26).

31 C. G. Jung, CW 10, 882/466-67 “Yet the danger that faces us today is that the whole of reality will be replaced by words. This accounts for that terrible lack of instinct in modern man, particularly the city-dweller. He lacks all contact with the life and breath of nature. He knows a rabbit or a cow only from the illustrated paper, the dictionary, or the movies, and thinks he knows what it is really like—and is then amazed that cowsheds ‘smell,’ because the dictionary didn’t say so.” END

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