If we see ourselves as Earth, rather than Earth as existing for us, our perspective is transformed. A variety of religious, philosophical, cultural, and political self-perceptions that dominate our sense of human identity are deeply challenged by this shift in perspective. John Locke’s doctrine of Earth as human “property” has been central to current presuppositions about our selves: justified on the grounds of our possessing unique, divinely bestowed, rational abilities. But today, the effects of that doctrine on Earth’s resource base and on its other-than-human creatures directly challenge such assumptions. At the same time contemporary scientific findings about the evolution of Earthly life demonstrate that while we belong to Earth and nowhere else, Earth does not belong to us. Exploring this role reversal raises fundamental questions about current theological, philosophical, scientific, and economic presuppositions that underpin the “business as usual” viewpoint and human-centered aims of contemporary policies and lifestyles. It takes us beyond hierarchical Christian and philosophical doctrines toward a deeper, Earth-focused and peace-based understanding of what it means to be human today.
Foreword by Kwok Pui-lan
1. Resourceful Earth
2. Disdained Earth
3. Appropriated Earth
4. Reformed Earth
5. Classical Earth
6. Colonized Earth
7. Monetized Earth
8. Devalued Earth
9. Marketized Earth
10. Peaceable Earth
11. One Earth
12. Living Earth
Endorsements and Reviews
Anne Primavesi asks us to shift from the dying, yet pervasive, worldview that nature belongs to humanity and move toward a sense of ourselves as people who come from the soil, air, and water of our home: Earth. A sustainable future for human and more-than-human communities requires nothing less.
Timothy B. Leduc, author of Climate, Culture, Change: Inuit and Western Dialogues with a Warming North
With relentless clarity Anne Primavesi bares the historical, cultural, and religious roots of our ecological crisis. … Increasing injustice as well as climatic and other dangerous global changes reveal the inescapable need to scrutinize and transform our human self-understanding, and to disabuse us from the fatal misconception of owning the Earth. With critical acuteness … she encourages us to convert this insight into alternative, sustainable life and thought styles.
Sigurd Bergmann, Founder, European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment
The Earth is one, a living entity. Our survival as a species depends on Earth’s wellbeing, yet today the devastating global impact of human consumption threatens all life on Earth. In this brilliant analysis, Anne Primavesi exposes the mental categories that undergird and justify the Western anthropocentric worldview, arguing persuasively for the need to embrace rather than transcend our Earthliness. This is a critically needed book to change minds.
Dan Spencer, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Montana