Posted by Steven Hayward
Ive written a very long piece, entitled "The Fate of the Earth in the Balance: The Metaphysics of Climate Change," discussing the startling similarities between Al Gore and Martin Heidegger. You can read or download it here.
Good for you, Steve. I also discovered this in his Earth In the Balance book -- the antitechnological bias, for example, but also a certain implicit, how to say it nicely, national socialist idea about radical planning of population growth, i.e. who lives and who dies in the future.
He begins once chapter talking about "deep ecologists" who believe that the way to restore environmental balance is to simply eliminate what has disturbed it, which means, man should commit suicide. Fortunately, after leaving us in suspense a bit, he says reassuringly, "I dont agree with them." Not sure what Gore would say if he now wrote a second edition.
Al Gore spent some time in Seminary at Vanderbilt -- even though he flunked out of that institution, theology must have long been on his mind. Anyway, one Hayward might have mentioned is Heideggers influence has been immense in Protestand theology (Paul Tillich most prominently).
The Heideggerian concerns over mans alienation from the earth expressed in the environmental movement reflect a loss of belief in mans unique status, which was our inheritance from the Christian tradition, and which was responsible for much good. The idea that each human had an immortal soul led to a new sense of moral equality, and spelled the eventual end of slavery and subjection of women, among other things. This humanism carried over through the Enlightenment, but now seems to be on the wane. A sort of pantheism is rising to replace it, which does not regard humans as at all unique or superior to animals. Perhaps this is in part the natural consequence of the decline of custom and tradition under the withering assaults of scientistic thinking - the Enlightenment consuming itself, so to speak. One wonders whether our highly valued notions of absolute human rights can long survive in such a philosophical/quasi-religious atmosphere. More likely, the tendency will be to revert to a crude utilitarianism, in which the interests of individual humans will be sacrificed with a shrug in the interests of some purported greater good. Clearly, Gore is arguing for this, in disregarding the enormous costs of his proposals.
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