Oneness in Political Theory and Environmental Ethics

Project directors: Prof. Philip J. Ivanhoe and Dr. Eirik Lang Harris

The primary aim of Oneness in Political Theory and Environmental Ethics is to extend the oneness hypothesis first put forth and initially explored in the project Eastern and Western Conceptions of Oneness, Virtue, and Happiness to the fields of political theory and environmental ethics. Most contemporary political theory and much environmental philosophy assume a picture of the self that is strongly individualistic, what we call the hyper-individualistic conception of the self. Such a self is thought to enter into largely self-centred calculations and contracts with others in an effort to maximize its interest. Even though this model has been shown to be extremely poor at predicting how people actually behave it is still widely employed and largely regarded as simply the way people are. This last claim is patently false, our conception of ourselves is not something that can be discovered but is largely a product of culture, imagination, and reflective endorsement. There are many alternative conceptions of the self to be found in philosophy, religion, and psychology, but until recently, no one has sought to explore the implications of such views in a careful and systematic manner or attempted to ascertain whether these alternatives might prove more conducive to human well-being, their happiness, satisfaction, and fulfilment.

The core of the project will be to organize two international conferences on the twin themes of the project. The first international conference, on Oneness in Political Theory, will be held at City University in April or May or 2017. The second international conference, on Oneness in Environmental Ethics, will be held here in April or May 2018. We intend to collect, review, select the best work presented at these conferences and after a process of revision, publish them as definitive anthologies for each of our chosen topics. Work on the first anthology will be completed by January of 2018; work on the second anthology will be completed by January of 2019.
This project will offer us a way to directly build upon and extend the work of Eastern and Western Conceptions of Oneness, Virtue, and Happiness, affording us the opportunity to apply the oneness hypothesis to the fields of political theory and environmental ethics and the chance to show how this dramatically different conception of the self provides a viable alternative to the hyper-individualism of contemporary theories in political and environmental philosophy.


Sponsor:

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences