Old Orders for New: Ecology, Animal Rights, and The Poverty of Humanism

Abstract (in English): 

Cary Wolfe reviews Luc Ferry’s The New Ecological Order.

Early on in The New Ecological Order, French philosopher Luc Ferry characterizes the allure and the danger of ecology in the postmodern moment. What separates it from various other issues in the intellectual and political field, he writes, is that it can call itself a true “world vision,” whereas the decline of political utopias, but also the parcelization of knowledge and the growing “jargonization” of individual scientific disciplines, seemed to forever prohibit any plan for the globalization of thought… At a time when ethical guide marks are more than ever floating and undetermined, it allows the unhoped-for promise of rootedness to form, an objective rootedness, certain of a new moral ideal (xx).

As we shall see, for Ferry – a staunch liberal humanist in the Kantian if not Cartesian tradition – this vision conceals a danger to which contemporary European intellectuals are especially sensitive: not holism, nor even moralism, exactly, but that far more charged and historically freighted thing, totalitarianism.

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