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Humans and Humanists: Ethics and the Environment Essay

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Updated: Apr 25th, 2021

The Response to Pickering’s Article

The main argument Pickering (2005) makes in his article is that recent breakthroughs in technology studies and science have the potential to become close to environmental studies. In particular, the author talks of a “certain posthumanist perspective” on the connection between people and things (Pickering, 2005, p. 29). According to the scholar, such a relation may be converted easily from speculating on people and machines to reflecting on people and the environment.

To bear on the argument, Pickering (2005) suggests examples from other scholarly works. For instance, to explain what happens when the human and the nonhuman are analyzed at once, he offers a quotation from Marx who wrote that “production not only creates an object for the subject but also the subject for the object” (as cited in Pickering, 2005, p. 31). Another piece of evidence is the mentioning of Fleck’s book focused on the “reciprocal tuning” of people and things” (Pickering, 2005, p. 31). Finally, a large part of Pickering’s article is dedicated to the explanation of Asian eels’ effect on global warming. Thus, although there is no factual or statistical evidence in the study, the author employs many sources to prove his point.

Pickering (2005) is not refuting an earlier theory or position. Rather, he is suggesting a new one: the combination of natural and social sciences with the aim of investigating the relation between people and things. The piece is very informative, and the idea that attracted my attention most of all was temporal emergence. I agree with Pickering (2005) that the combined study of social and natural sciences can promote the understanding of fundamental processes taking place in the world.

The Response to Ritvo’s Article

The main point made by Ritvo is that humans have limits and limitations, which means that the author is defending the post-humanist theory. To bear on the argument, Ritvo (2009) starts with suggesting definitions of the terms “human” and “humanist” from the most respectable dictionaries. Then, the author offers numerous examples from scholarly sources to explain her opinion. For instance, Ritvo (2009) mentions the works by Linnaues (Swedish taxonomist), Darwin, and others.

In her article, Ritvo (2009) refutes the position of Raymond Williams, who included the word “humanity” in his collection of brief essays on the most common terms. Ritvo (2009) remarks that Williams “took the limits of the human for granted” (p. 69). Meanwhile, the author is convinced that boundaries between humanity and its adjoining categories are more problematic than Williams used to think (Ritvo, 2009).

The piece contains many interesting ideas concerning humans’ evolution and the possibility that it has not reached its peak yet. For instance, Ritvo (2009) mentions that naturalists considered that humans occupied the highest position in the natural order. However, she notes that there were also some other possibilities that needed a more thorough analysis. It was also quite exciting to read about Linnaues’s classification of Homo.

In this classification, Homo Europeaus meant “sanguineus,” and Homo Afer meant “phlegmaticus” (Ritvo, 2009, p. 70). Previously, I heard these words only in relation to psychology and types of temperament. It was interesting to learn that they used to be employed as divisions of Homo classification. The author’s final argument is food for thought: she suggests considering whether the word “humanist” carries hubris. However, I would have liked to have seen more analysis in the article instead of criticism.

References

Pickering, A. (2005). Asian eels and global warming: A posthumanist perspective on society and the environment. Ethics and the Environment, 10(2), 29-43.

Ritvo, H. (2009). Humans & humanists. Daedalus, 138(3), 68-78.

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1. IvyPanda. "Humans and Humanists: Ethics and the Environment." April 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/humans-and-humanists-ethics-and-the-environment/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Humans and Humanists: Ethics and the Environment." April 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/humans-and-humanists-ethics-and-the-environment/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Humans and Humanists: Ethics and the Environment'. 25 April.

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