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Being at One: Making a Home in the Earth's Commonwealth of Virtue

Synopsis and Table of Contents for a forthcoming book. Combining notions of ecological virtue and citizen science, Being at One develops an eco-praxis that sees human beings as active members/partners in a creative, participatory universe in which
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  BEING AT ONE: MAKING A HOME IN EARTH’S COMMONWEALTH OF VIRTUE  2015Peter CritchleyThis is a brief description of Being at One, a book I am in the process of writing. Below is a Table of Contents of the first draft. t something like !00 pages inlength" there is a need for drastic editing. #riting" real writing" is in large partrewriting. This I am now doing.#hy refer to the $commonwealth of %irt&e' instead of" say" the $commonwealthof life' (the title of Peter Brown's book)* I refer to %irt&e for a specific reason. If talk of %irt&e seems archaic" there's no need to mystify here. The %irt&es are +&alities for s&ccessf&l li%ing. #hen we concei%e these +&alities along ecological lines" then$s&ccessf&l li%ing' takes shape as s&stainable li%ing in the ecological society. t thispoint it becomes possible to call back the old eudaimonistic   notion of flo&rishing well. nd that is precisely what I propose to do. I'%e ,&st been reading -wen lanagan'sbook The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World   (200/)" and he writes of $ eudaimonistic scientia '" or $ eudaimonics’   for short" which he defines as theempiricalnormati%e in+&iry into the nat&re" ca&ses" and conditions of h&manflo&rishing. nd the instit&tions" str&ct&res" practices and relations in which h&manand planetary flo&rishing go hand in hand. I therefore seek to reco%er the ancient&nity of ethics and politics in an ecological contet" o&tlining the conto&rs of the3copolis of the f&t&re. nd make no mistake" the f&t&re city will be the ecocity" if weare to ha%e a f&t&re at all.Plenty of the arg&ments in Being at One  comes from 4acIntyre and &ssba&m inphilosophy" lannery in ecology" #ilson in biology" 6obert #right on the non7eros&m society" (The non7eros&m moment  o&r welfare is cr&cially correlated with thewelfare of the other etc.)" 8t&art 9a&ffman on the selforganising creati%e &ni%erse"and many more. The srcinality of this thesis lies in the way these so&rces are  bro&ght together in an integral framework concerning the dialectic of nat&raldependency" moral independence and social and ecological interdependence. Selected Passages from Being at One by way of introduction If we ha%e learned anything from the crisis in the climate system" it is thatincreasing knowledge of encroaching en%ironmental threats has pro%en ins&fficientto mobilise the action we re+&ire to head off the catastrophe we face. This bookconcerns %irt&e as the willingness and capacity to act" as a moral disposition.   In this book" I address the problem of resol%ing potential conflictarising from clashes of interest" so as to reconcile indi%id&al selfinterest withthe common good we need. I eamine $the logic of collecti%e action'" with itsrelated conflicts s&ch as the $tragedy of the commons'" and $the prisoner:s dilemma'.4ore than this" howe%er" need to ask who we are" what o&r place in the wider scheme of things is" what meaning o&r li%es ha%e.  nswering the +&estion of how to achie%e the common good on the commongro&nd m&st go f&rther than instit&tional arrangements. The crisis in the climatesystem is an eistential crisis. The en%ironmental crisis points to a need to addressthe metaphysical" spirit&al and cosmological dimensions of o&r eistence. In theprocess" we come to de%elop an o%erall system of %al&es by which to make senseof o&r li%es" g&iding o&r choices and gi%ing direction.ew approaches creating a grand o%erall way of life are certainly possible. #eli%e in a world of freeflowing information" escaping old patterns of control andcontin&ally e%ading constant attempts by a&thorities to reco%er that control.That freedom of information in a network society enables &s to take spirit&ality"ed&cation and de%elopment back into o&r own hands. 8&ch selfmanagementre+&ires that we de%elop a psychological literacy" becoming able to s&pply and li%e  by shared moral %al&es witho&t re%erting to f&ndamentalist or a&thoritariancertainty. nd this re+&ires also that we de%elop an ecological literacy so thatwe may come to generate the ecological sensibility that enables &s to respectand care for the whole web of life in which we li%e and &pon which we depend. ny rele%ant ethics m&st" by definition" address the pressing social iss&esof o&r times" indicating the character traits appropriate to the new forms of actionand relations re+&ired to mo%e society towards a more harmonio&s order. Thelooming en%ironmental crisis highlights the importance of de%eloping an ethics of nat&re concerning how we incorporate the principles of ecology into o&r socialpractices and th&s come to relate respectf&lly to the ecology of the planet. 8&chan ethics wo&ld also ha%e a place for a conception of h&man nat&re" taking a %iewof h&man potentiality" the forms of life which enable h&man flo&rishing" thede%elopment of capabilities enabling h&man de%elopment" and the ac+&isition of %irt&es. The end in %iew is to create a habit&s which consists of channels capableof connecting the predispositions we are born with to the dispositions we de%elopand which allow and enable &s to act in order to realise o&r potentials.The book tra%erses science" political philosophy" democratic theory anden%ironmental ethics in order to shed light on the +&estion of how we can constit&teand li%e the common good on common gro&nd. #hat emerges is anen%ironmentalism that places political and moral moti%es alongside the recognitionof ecological constraints.The idea of the 3copolis epands the bo&ndaries of the $political'. The idea of an ecological society th&s becomes practicable in an acti%ely democratic societywhich is scaled to h&man dimensions and proportions" makes etensi%eparticipatory str&ct&res a%ailable" and fosters a sense of ownership of" andcommitment to" place. 8&ch a society learns to fit itself to nat&ral bo&ndariesand reorganise economic acti%ity and technological &se and inno%ation along  ecological conto&rs.  ci%ic en%ironmentalism seeks to integrate place andperson" intertwining the social" political" c&lt&ral" aesthetic and ecologicalaspects of life in a seamless whole. The approach combines instit&tions of go%ernance" policy frameworks" planning and technologies within a moral andsocial ecology that is committed to place and person. The res&lt is an integrationof social and nat&ral ecology thro&gh a p&blic sphere that c&lti%ates a moralsense of place. The codification and proclamation of ,&stice thro&gh laws" prescriptionsand con%entions establishes a framework for rather than a g&arantee of ,&stice.The reali7ation of ,&stice depends on the capacity and the willingness on thepart of indi%id&als to act ,&stly. 9nowledge in itself is not a %irt&e; to be a %irt&e itwo&ld need to be appetiti%e. ction on the part of indi%id&als in fa%o&r of ,&sticepres&mes a conscio&sness of ,&stice as a moral d&ty" and a willingness and acapacity to act on that awareness. or this reason" both reason and emotionm&st be addressed" and the cogniti%e and the affecti%e aspects of h&man actionintegrated. The de%elopment of the moral" intellect&al" political and organisationalcapacities of the s&b,ecti%e factor in history < h&man agents < is also acondition of transformation. There is nothing ine%itable abo&t this" hence theemphasis I place on the creati%e role of politics and ethics in the contet of the ac+&isition of the %irt&es as +&alities for right li%ing.#e are in%ol%ed in relations of dependence and so cannot li%e well by ,&stlooking inside o&rsel%es. lo&rishing is a comple idea which in%ol%es a wholerange of factors. Plenty of the things we need to flo&rish well are not whollywithin o&r control and re+&ire certain social and material conditions. To begood" as social beings" we need a good society. B&t to be good" society needsto recognise its nat&ral fo&ndations.  #ith the intertwining of ethics and politics in the ac+&isition andeercise of the %irt&es" morality ceases to be abo&t form&lating and followingr&les and instead is constit&ti%e of flo&rishing as the en,oyment andab&ndance of life.There is a need for a &ni%ersal planetary ethic" a partnership ethic thatrecognises the interdependence of the h&man and the nat&ral comm&nity" theimportance of biodi%ersity and c&lt&ral di%ersity. This points to the need for instit&tional change. =owe%er" the most f&ndamental aspect of thistransformation is the demand for changes to o&r %al&es and to o&r ways of li%ing. nd this demand points to the centrality of moral character" to the needto de%elop o&r moral and psychic ability to respond to the warnings of en%ironmental crisis" to strengthen o&r will to act accordingly" and to b&ild o&r capability to s&stain the society of ecological wellbeing.In the arg&ment I present in this book" the idea of a commonwealth of %irt&e in%ol%es more than the ceaseless &nfolding of nat&re> it implies thee%ol%ed moral sense of h&man beings" and raises +&estions of what it meansto li%e %irt&o&sly within nat&re. It in%ol%es" in short" a moral and a spirit&aldimension. nd it in%ol%es a political and instit&tional dimension. The idea thatwe are citi7ens in the commonwealth of life?%irt&e implies a biospheric politics.In the conception I de%elop in this book" politics and ethics are abo&tshaping and canalising beha%io&r in order to attain partic&lar indi%id&al andcollecti%e ends. Politics does this thro&gh a system of eternal incenti%es andsanctions" thro&gh social" economic and en%ironmental policies; ethics doesthis thro&gh internal incenti%es and sanctions" thro&gh conscience and the
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