In this essay an attempt is made to discuss the two concepts – anthropocentrism and ecocentrism. An attempt is also made to discuss the differences between the anthropocentric and ecocentric view of deforestation.
Anthropocentrism and ecocentrism are two different perspectives which deal with the various environmental issues such as deforestation. These two concepts are used to provide proper guidance regarding the management of natural resources including forests. The application of these two concepts plays a significant role in the protection or destruction of forests. Thus, the scholars of ecosystems have used these two concepts to analyze the impact of these views on the nature. (Veil, 2001) The scholars refer to the different moral values which can be found among the various sections of world population. The question of moral values have been discussed in the religious arena also which implies that the scholars seriously analyzed the use of these two concepts which reveal particular world view regarding the destruction and preservation of natural resources. (Derr, 1996)
Anthropocentrism gives more importance to the role of power of humanity in controlling the various natural products such as forests. This philosophy suggests that the products of nature are available for exploitation by the human beings and it is the right of man to exploit the nature. Thus, it is suggested that man possesses all the powers to diminish the forest wealth and other products of nature. Anthropocentrism is not a new concept as it was mentioned in the pre modern works particularly in the religious literature composed by the early medieval Christian thinkers. In these writings, it was argued that man is at the centre of universe and man can use the various aspects of nature which is at his disposal and man can give direction to the growth of forests and other natural products. This concept implies the attempt made by human beings to dominate over nature. (McDonagh and Prothero, 1997, 361) Anthropocentrism believes in the utilitarian philosophy that forests are natural resources which should be exploited by the human beings for economic gain. This view does not consider the evil effects of unrestricted cutting of trees which has led to severe ecological imbalances. Thus, this philosophy believes that human needs are satisfied by the use and exploitation of natural resources. (Veil, 2001)
Ecocentrism refers to the attempt made to assert greater role of nature. This concept gives greater importance to the role of the nature in determining the preservation of the natural products such as forests. Ecocentrism believes that there is close affinity between nature and human beings. This concept does not accept the domination of the human beings over the nature and natural products such as forest. This view is against anthropocentrism which considers nature as a part of the human world. In ecocentrism, on the other hand, man is part of the nature and nature is allowed to take its own course and there is no human intervention in the natural progress. This concept offers greater freedom to the nature in determining its relationship with the various living organisms in the world. (McDonagh and Prothero, 1997, 362). Ecocentrism has challenged the utilitarian concept of exploitation of forest resources by the human beings. Ecocentric view gives greatest importance to preserve the integrity of the eco system and it does not consider the economic gain from the use and exploitation of these resources. Many organizations have given importance to protect the forests based on this philosophy of ecocentrism. They have propagated the various values to protect the integrity of natural wealth. In the present days there is great awareness among the people regarding the need to preserve the forest wealth in order to avert further deforestation leading to severe ecological imbalances. (Veil, 2001)
There has been debate among the scholars belonging to these two schools of thought regarding the management of natural resources. However, it is suggested that it is not practical to follow both the concepts as anthropocentrism leads to destruction of forests while ecocentrism leads to preservation of forests and also economic backwardness. Hence, it is suggested that there is need to follow a balanced approach which should include both utilitarian and ecocentric views regarding the preservation of forest wealth. (Veil, 2001) Some scholars have suggested that ecocentrism is too idealistic and it is very difficult to implement this philosophy as there is need for both preservation of forest resources and material gain.(Gough, Scott and Stables, 2000) However there has been transition from anthropocentrism to ecocentrism giving more importance to preservation of natural wealth at the cost of economic loss. (McDonagh and Prothero, 1997)
One can discern debate between the various scholars who supported anthropocentrism and ecocentrism. However, recently many scholars have given greater prominence to the philosophy of ecocentrism which assures greater autonomy of the nature. Ecocentrism concept is useful in protecting the forest wealth of the world.
Derr, T. (1996). Environmental Ethics and Christian Humanism, Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Gough, Stephen., Scott, William., and Stables, Andrew. (2000). “Beyond O’Riordan: Balancing Anthropocentrism and Ecocentrism”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 9:1, pp. 36-47.
McDonagh, Pierre., and Prothero, Andrea (1997). “Leap-frog marketing: the contribution of ecofeminist thought to the world of patriarchal marketing”, Marketing Intelligence and Planning, 15:7, pp. 361-368.
Veil, Jason, M. (2001). “Anthropocentrism and Ecocentrism: A Balanced Approach”, Retrieved on 22-08-2005 from http://www.courses.psu.edu/for/for410_mem14/Essays/Spr_01/Jason_Veil.PDF