Ecological Implications of the Logic of Non-Duality
An Analysis of the Plotinian One and the Daoist Dao
Keywords:Aristotle, Plato, Plotinus, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Neo-Platonism, Daoism, nature, matter, emanation, non-duality, dualism, law of excluded middle, law of non-contradiction, law of identity, mutual production of opposites, water, female, ecology
This paper explores the relationship between language and reality and the ecological implications of dualism, categorical logic, and the Aristotelian three laws of logic, on humans’ attitude toward the natural world. The paper engages in a comparative analysis of two traditions: one from the West (Neo-Platonism) and one from the East (Daoism). It argues that while both Neo-Platonism (as represented by Plotinus’ Enneads) and Classic Daoism (as represented by the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi) are successful in debunking rigid dualistic logic, Plotinus’s Oneness emanation theory in the end falls short of supporting an inclusive ecological ethics in a comprehensive manner. Still mired in dualism, Plotinian Neo-Platonism treats nature and the physical world as recalcitrant matter—an evil best to be avoided rather than embraced. By contrast, Classic Daoism’s non-dual multi-universe perspective of the world has much to offer with regard to creating a new eco-philosophy and ethics that supports a healthy, sustainable, ecology.
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