Arts and Culture
This panel conceived will examine how societal attitudes to nature, considered – or not– as the property of man (the Anthropocene) are expressed in philosophy and art in Asia and Europe and how the concept of harmony between man and nature as it exists now might be the result of an exchange between the two continent since the end of the 19th c. As a starting point we could consider what the bible says of men and nature in Genesis 1: 27-28: "God created man in his image, he created man and woman. God said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fishes of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every animal that moves on the earth".
The same view of the world as human paradise is inscribed in Islamic culture. Even though Christian take on nature varies according to time and context, echoes of this entitlement are perceptible in today’s climate change skeptics who often advocate that climate change will be good for men, or that technology, as a product of men’s intelligence, will solve problems. Eastern philosophy, on the contrary, tends to subdue men to the energy and power of nature. The Taoist concept of Wu Wei, for example, can be understood as a leading man to respect a perceived natural order. The Neo-Confucianist notion of “unity of Heaven and Humanity” regards the earth as part of Heaven to be protected and cherished by men (Tu Weiming, Daedalus, Fall 2001). Yet Chinese attitude to ecology does not always fulfill this purported wisdom, as China is the first source of plastic pollution in the Pacific ocean.
Classical Japanese philosophical view on the relationship between nature and human beings is represented, for example, in Japanese gardens. Nature represented as a garden is more a changing process than a substance with identity. Today’s attitudes towards the environment are not necessarily in line with this tradition but as Berque (1986) pointed out, Japanese classical view of nature involves a paradox and is not sufficient to give a basis for solving actual environmental crisis. Panel 2 addresses the artistic and philosophical imagination of wild nature while Panel 1 considers the garden as embodying the human relationship to nature. An exhibition of photographs by Lu Guang will hopefully accompany the panel. We are looking for a partner institution.