The Theoretical Individual: Imagination, Ethics and the Future of Humanity

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How can the one influence the many? From posing seminal questions about what comprises a human individual, to asking whether human evolution is alive and well, favoring individuals or the species, this work is a daring, up-to-the-minute overview of an urgent, multidisciplinary premise. It explores the extent to which human history provides empirical evidence for the capacity of an individual to exert meaningful suasion over their species, and asks: Can an individual influence the survival of the human species and the planet? If there are to be cultures of transformation dedicated to seeing us all through the Sixth Extinction Spasm, the Anthropocene, inflicting as little biological havoc as possible, what might such orientations—a collective, widespread biophilia, or reverence for nature—look like? In this powerful work, with a combination of data and direct observation, the authors invite readers to explore how such transformations might resonate throughout the human community; in what ways a person might overcome the seemingly insurmountable environmental tumult our species has unleashed; the clear and salient motives, ethics, aspirations and pragmatic idealism he/she might mirror and embrace in order to effect a profound difference—at the individual level—for all of life and life’s myriad habitats. Chapters illuminate an ambitiously broad digest of research from two-dozen disciplines. Those include ecodynamics, biosemiotics, neural plasticity, anthropology, paleontology and the history of science, among others. All converge upon a set of ethics-based scenarios for mitigating ecological damage to ourselves and other life forms. This highly readable and tightly woven treatise speaks to scientists, students and all those who are concerned about ethical activism and the future of the biosphere.


Michael Charles Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison are ecological philosophers and animal liberation activists who have worked for decades to help enrich our understanding of ecosystem dynamics and humanity’s ambiguous presence amid that great orchestra that is nature.
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About the author

Michael Charles Tobias earned his Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness at the University of California-Santa Cruz, specializing in global ecological ethics and the interdisciplinary humanities. He has conducted field research in over 90 countries, producing a wide-ranging, body of work that embraces the history of science, aesthetics, anthrozoology, comparative literature, philosophy, and natural history in the context of a multitude of current and potential-future scientific, geo-political, economic, and social scientific scenarios. Tobias has been on the faculties of such colleges and universities as Dartmouth, the University of California-Santa Barbara, the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque and Georgia College & State University. For 18 years Tobias has been President of the Dancing Star Foundation (www.dancingstarfoundation.org; www.dancingstarnews.com). The Theoretical Individual is Tobias’ 4th book with Springer.
Jane Gray Morrison, Executive Vice President of the Dancing Star Foundation for 18 years, has written and co-edited dozens of books, including Sanctuary: Global Oases of Innocence (www.sanctuary-thebook.org), Donkey: The Mystique of Equus Asinus (Council Oak Books), Why Life Matters (Springer) and Anthrozoology (Springer). In addition, Morrison has written, produced and/or directed numerous major film documentaries and docudramas that have been broadcast throughout the world. Among them are the ten-hour series, “Voice of the Planet” (TBS), “A Parliament of Souls” (PBS), “No Vacancy” (PBS), “A Day in the Life of Ireland” (PBS), “Mad Cowboy” (PBS) and “Hotspots” (www.hotspots-thefilm.com, PBS). A Goodwill Ambassador to Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park and early advocate for an Antarctic World Park (“Antarctica: The Last Continent” [PBS]), Ms. Morrison has worked to save endangered species and habitat on every continent. Those efforts have included the creation and management of one of the most successful mainland island scientific reserves in the Southern Hemisphere, on Stewart Island, New Zealand.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Springer
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Published on
Jan 3, 2018
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Pages
138
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ISBN
9783319714431
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
Nature / General
Nature / Reference
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Reference
Science / Environmental Science
Science / General
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
Science / Life Sciences / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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This groundbreaking work of both theoretical and experiential thought by two leading ecological philosophers and animal liberation scientists ventures into a new frontier of applied ethical anthrozoological studies. Through lean and elegant text, readers will learn that human interconnections with other species and ecosystems are severely endangered precisely because we lack - by our evolutionary self-confidence - the very coherence that is everywhere around us abundantly demonstrated. What our species has deemed to be superior is, according to Tobias and Morrison, the cumulative result of a tragically tenuous argument predicated on the brink of our species’ self-destruction, giving rise to a most unique proposition: We either recognize the miracle of other sentient intelligence, sophistication, and genius, or risk enshrining the shortest lived epitaph of any known vertebrate in earth’s 4.1 billion years of life.

Tobias and Morrison draw on 45 years of research in fields ranging from ecological anthropology, animal protection and comparative ethics to literature and spirituality - and beyond. They deploy research in animal and plant behavior, biocultural heritage contexts from every continent and they bring to bear a deeply metaphysical array of perspectives that set this book apart from any other. The book departs from most work in such fields as animal rights, ecological aesthetics, comparative ethology or traditional animal and plant behaviorist work, and yet it speaks to readers with an interest in those fields.

A deeply provocative book of philosophical premises and hypotheses from two of the world’s most influential ecological philosophers, this text is likely to stir uneasiness and debate for many decades to come.

New York Times Bestseller

A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

Dr. Michael Charles Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison are world-renowned ecological philosophers and activists, interdisciplinary social and environmental scientists and broad-ranging, deeply committed humanists. This collection of fifty essays and interviews comprises an invigorating, outspoken, provocative and eloquent overview of the ecological humanities in one highly accessible volume. The components of this collection were published in the authors’ "Green Conversations" blog series, and pieces in the Eco News Network from 2011 to 2013 and feature luminaries from Jane Goodall to Ted Turner to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to the former head of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Stunning color photographs captured by the authors and contributors make Why Life Matters: Fifty Ecosystems of the Heart and Mind a feast for the eyes as well as the mind and soul.

Ethics, science, technology, ecological literacy, grass-roots renaissance thinkers, conservation innovation from the U.S. to the U.K.; from India to Ecuador; from Bhutan to Haiti; from across Africa, the Neo-Tropics, Central Asia and Japan, to Rio, Shanghai and Manhattan – this humanistic ode to the future of life on earth is a relevant and resonating read.

Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison, partners who between them have authored some 50 books and written, directed and produced some 170 films, a prolific body of work that has been read, translated and/or broadcast around the world, have been married for more than a quarter-of-a-century. Their field research across the disciplines of comparative literature, anthropology, the history of science and philosophy, ecology and ethics, in over 80 countries, has served as a telling example of what two people – deeply in love with one another – can accomplish in spreading that same unconditional love to others – of all species.

Hope on Earth is the thought-provoking result of a lively and wide-ranging conversation between two of the world’s leading interdisciplinary environmental scientists: Paul R. Ehrlich, whose book The Population Bomb shook the world in 1968 (and continues to shake it), and Michael Charles Tobias, whose over 40 books and 150 films have been read and/or viewed throughout the world. Hope on Earth offers a rare opportunity to listen in as these deeply knowledgeable and highly creative thinkers offer their takes on the most pressing environmental concerns of the moment.

Both Ehrlich and Tobias argue that we are on the verge of environmental catastrophe, as the human population continues to grow without restraint and without significant attempts to deal with overconsumption and the vast depletion of resources and climate problems it creates. Though their views are sympathetic, they differ in their approach and in some key moral stances, giving rise to a heated and engaging dialogue that opens up dozens of new avenues of exploration. They both believe that the impact of a human society on its environment is the direct result of its population size, and through their dialogue they break down the complex social problems that are wrapped up in this idea and attempts to overcome it, hitting firmly upon many controversial topics such as circumcision, religion, reproduction, abortion, animal rights, diet, and gun control. For Ehrlich and Tobias, ethics involve not only how we treat other people directly, but how we treat them and other organisms indirectly through our effects on the environment. University of California, Berkeley professor John Harte joins the duo for part of the conversation, and his substantial expertise on energy and climate change adds a crucial perspective to the discussion of the impact of population on global warming.

This engaging and timely book invites readers into an intimate conversation with some of the most eminent voices in science as they offer a powerful and approachable argument that the ethical and scientific issues involved in solving our environmental crisis are deeply intertwined, while offering us an optimistic way forward. Hope on Earth is indeed a conversation we should all be having.
This groundbreaking work of both theoretical and experiential thought by two leading ecological philosophers and animal liberation scientists ventures into a new frontier of applied ethical anthrozoological studies. Through lean and elegant text, readers will learn that human interconnections with other species and ecosystems are severely endangered precisely because we lack - by our evolutionary self-confidence - the very coherence that is everywhere around us abundantly demonstrated. What our species has deemed to be superior is, according to Tobias and Morrison, the cumulative result of a tragically tenuous argument predicated on the brink of our species’ self-destruction, giving rise to a most unique proposition: We either recognize the miracle of other sentient intelligence, sophistication, and genius, or risk enshrining the shortest lived epitaph of any known vertebrate in earth’s 4.1 billion years of life.

Tobias and Morrison draw on 45 years of research in fields ranging from ecological anthropology, animal protection and comparative ethics to literature and spirituality - and beyond. They deploy research in animal and plant behavior, biocultural heritage contexts from every continent and they bring to bear a deeply metaphysical array of perspectives that set this book apart from any other. The book departs from most work in such fields as animal rights, ecological aesthetics, comparative ethology or traditional animal and plant behaviorist work, and yet it speaks to readers with an interest in those fields.

A deeply provocative book of philosophical premises and hypotheses from two of the world’s most influential ecological philosophers, this text is likely to stir uneasiness and debate for many decades to come.

Dr. Michael Charles Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison are world-renowned ecological philosophers and activists, interdisciplinary social and environmental scientists and broad-ranging, deeply committed humanists. This collection of fifty essays and interviews comprises an invigorating, outspoken, provocative and eloquent overview of the ecological humanities in one highly accessible volume. The components of this collection were published in the authors’ "Green Conversations" blog series, and pieces in the Eco News Network from 2011 to 2013 and feature luminaries from Jane Goodall to Ted Turner to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to the former head of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Stunning color photographs captured by the authors and contributors make Why Life Matters: Fifty Ecosystems of the Heart and Mind a feast for the eyes as well as the mind and soul.

Ethics, science, technology, ecological literacy, grass-roots renaissance thinkers, conservation innovation from the U.S. to the U.K.; from India to Ecuador; from Bhutan to Haiti; from across Africa, the Neo-Tropics, Central Asia and Japan, to Rio, Shanghai and Manhattan – this humanistic ode to the future of life on earth is a relevant and resonating read.

Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison, partners who between them have authored some 50 books and written, directed and produced some 170 films, a prolific body of work that has been read, translated and/or broadcast around the world, have been married for more than a quarter-of-a-century. Their field research across the disciplines of comparative literature, anthropology, the history of science and philosophy, ecology and ethics, in over 80 countries, has served as a telling example of what two people – deeply in love with one another – can accomplish in spreading that same unconditional love to others – of all species.

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