Planetary Thinking, Agency, and Relationality: Religious Naturalism's Plea
Contribution to Book
Earthly Things: Immanence, New Materialisms and Planetary Thinking
Karen Bray, Heather Eaton, and Whitney Bauman
Fordham University Press
New York, New York
This chapter features religious naturalism as one critical materialist orientation offering insights into the ethical dimensions of planetary thinking. I introduce religious naturalism as a capacious, ecological worldview that re-assesses who we humans think we are in the grand scheme of things, shifting humans’ attention back to ourselves as relational, material processes inextricably connected to other life forms and material processes. With this conception of humanity, I contend that religious naturalism affirms inseparable ethical connections between humanity’s relationality with other natural processes on the planet and humans’ activities with each other. A key component of the chapter is a discussion of how contemporaries in the West might conceptualize agency, understand human-nature relations, and attempt to provide plausible responses to the challenges of climate change while embracing this specific view of humanity. Specifically, using the concept of metaphysical perspectivism, I advance religious naturalism’s affirmation that humans’ perspectives are included with, and influenced by, the perspectives of other existents in the universe. In suggesting that humans reside within an appreciable universe, religious naturalism posits human valuing as part of a vital sphere of agential activity throughout the biosphere. In the final section, I briefly discuss the ethical import and vision of hope offered by religious naturalism.
White, Carol Wayne, "Planetary Thinking, Agency, and Relationality: Religious Naturalism's Plea" (2023). Faculty Contributions to Books. 273.