Solidarity, Conflict and Human Dignity





Since the latter half of the 20th century there has been an awareness of the risk connected with the continuation of the present development of modern civilization. The ecological crisis has been seen as a menace and simultaneously as a challenge for a new human self-understanding and there has been dramatic growth in the search for alternative solutions. The substance of the ecological crisis as a social problem is the critical situation in the societyís relation to nature as its environment with the physical and biological prerequisites of social life. Particularly this regards the growing and cumulated effects which disturb these naturally ontological prerequisites. In this situation of ecological destruction of the physical-biological prerequisites of human bio-social beings it becomes necessary to revaluate the values of social existence when society begins to render insecure its biological existence.

The comprehensive approach to ecological problems cannot accentuate technical and regulative power-based and economic issues only. It must include also cultural, value-oriented and ethical aspects in a broader sense, for instance, in oneís self conception as a member of both society and the broader ecological community of the earth. From this enlarged conception of membership there can then arise conflicts of needs, goals, roles, standards and values, but also significant correctives for the regulation of social behaviour in the political comparison and assessment of chosen alternatives, advantages and impacts.

Economic correctives also can be developed, e.g., in the sphere of "ecological economy" in the form of applications of "cost-benefit" analyses (comparison of costs to be "paid" by the society for disturbing the environment with the advantages and results of certain social activities) or "technology assessment" (assessment of technologies from the viewpoint of social and natural consequences for the living environment).2

The management and control of nature in implementing societyís needs or the goals of humanity, human cultivation or emancipation ó which still recently have been considered as obvious matters ó are being faced today in the context of the destruction of the life. This fact can appear as an expression of the crisis of the legitimacy of ideas, values, goals or institutions of modern society, and as a crisis of the meaning and course of the movement of civilization as regards human dignity itself.

Humankind pays for the feeling of liberation from nature through the knowledge and mastering of its forces by a growing dependence on civilization which appears both in a physical-material and in a spiritual manner. This dependence ó familiar to sociology ó is manifested, for instance, by the manipulation of different techniques and apparatuses of technical, economic, administrative, political and ideological control, including control of the communication of meaning, content, languages, information and instructions for thinking and acting. The physical and spiritual dependence of people in modern civilization is mediated economically, technically, and informatively by complex artificial systems and apparatuses which manipulate material as well as spiritual needs and interactions.

The artificiality of the environment ó which increases together with the uniformization of the industrial-urban technical environment creates social integration in a physical and much less spiritual and ethical manner. The modern society creates control factors for the harmonization and manipulation of the surrounding context. For instance, the scientization of cultural life and consciousness, the so-called human engineering and social technology, is a means of control and manipulation not only of the social but also the cultural environment with lack of human dignity. In this union of modern societyís relation to nature and the dominance of social control and self-regulation there appear the genetic features of a radical reversal in the relations of men, society and nature. From this viewpoint one considers the modern society as one which has "hopelessly lost touch with life lived on a simpler, more primitive level."3

In the present study we will try to treat ecological problems within the framework of the character of modern societyís relation to nature in which the pattern of instrumental-rational action began to dominate to the detriment of the communicative pattern. At the same time we will proceed from the presupposition that the issue of the quality of social action towards nature as an environment and its ecological consequences are connected with the much discussed issue in modern social theory, i.e., that of the interdependence of the modern instrumentalization of nature and instrumentalization of the human person. This interdependence has some deeper roots in the present critical situation in the relation of modern society and nature, i.e., the ecological crisis. This crisis follows from the disequilibrium between power-based and ethical aspects of relations, between anonymity or ethical neutrality and responsibility in social action. This disequilibrium appears also in cultural contradictions and in the conflict of values in the reproduction and legitimization of social action in the relation between society and nature.





Modern culture distinguishes two different meanings of the concept "environment": cultural as "internal" environment and nature as "external" environment. This differentiation proceeded philosophically from the traditional modern dualism of "spirit-body," and "culture-nature".4 Modern social science began to consider the internal environment as its research subject, while leaving the natural environment essentially to research by the natural sciences.

It is essential that it connected this "alien" environment with the fundamental distinction of human and extra-human reality based on the differentiation of the "world of men" and "the world of things" and consequently the conception of nature as an object. This implicitly presupposes power manipulation by the subject ó science and technology being the products of human society. Like economy, modern sociology also took as obvious such a conception of human societyís relation to nature and the natural environment in an instrumental technical attitude, dominated as superior from the viewpoint of power in the philosophical as well as the scientific paradigm of inductive "technoscience" and the industrialization process. Not only sociology and economy, but also ecological science itself not long ago was still markedly influenced by the economic or technological utilitarianism of securing resources for human society,5 despite the fact that the core of the ecological view was a holism and mutual interdependence in the environment as an earthly system.

Systemism and holism, as well as interdependence, are used by sociology as well. For instance, Talcott Parsons applied them to society, though in connection with the traditional dualistic conception of environment. In this way Parsons differentiated the dual relation of society as a system to the environment which is created by culture (as normative order) and by nature (as organic-physical environment). At the same time, the normative order of culture legitimizes the right action of people in the sense of harmony with the "institutional order" (of the society) ó through not "morally."6 Parsons interpreted the interaction of society and nature as a subsystem of a primary technical referential framework, i.e. societyís technical organization "as a boundary-structure between the society as a system and the organic-physical environment."7 Economy links to nature at this boundary as a part of the technical-primary, physically defined referential framework, which is considered by Parsons to be "the focal structure providing linkage with social community." By fulfilling the function of distributing resources for satisfying the societyís needs it is the primary referential framework from the viewpoint of the social system.

In modern social systems technology becomes ó according to Parsons ó "the socially organized ability" of actively mastering and changing the objects of the physical environment in harmony with some needs of man.8

The following facts result from Parsonís model:


1. the main subsystem which structures the interaction of society and the natural environment is the technical-economic organization as an organized social ability to master and change the objects of physical environment; and

2. the main aim of this interaction between society and nature is to satisfy certain human and social needs which are thus closely defined in a technical-economic way ó i.e., independently of the normative system of culture and morality.

In the conditions of the present ecological difficulties of modern societies this very separation of technology and economy from cultural and moral values (or even their subordination to the aims of technical-economic, instrumental rationality) has become unsustainable. In the same way the viewpoint of the societyís independence (defined by Parsons as the self-sufficiency of societal community) from the instrumentally mastered and controlled environment has become unbearable. This is true as well of the principles which lead to the well-known negative consequences of overloading this environment by means of societyís technical-economic activities which break through of the limits of its "permanent sustainability."

Finally, the situation mentioned results in the fact that it is not possible to limit the validity of ethics as a regulator of human attitudes and activities and the maintenance of behaviour pattern by values only to the internal context, i.e., to inter-human or intra-social relations. Correspondingly, the regulation of relations to the natural, extra-human environment cannot be left "in the hands or com-petence" of societyís technical-economic structure and organization. In societyís cultural and communicative context there occur con-tradictions and changes. The goals and norms of behaviour also change on the basis of a growing recognition of the negative consequences and the feedback of information, so that there arises the need of new "environmental ethics" or ethics of respect for the environment.9

Ecological ethics, oriented towards ordering the relations of human society to natural ecosystems, proceeds from the viewpoint of the conditioning of societies as systems by natural ecosystems. At the same time, it is organically linked with the extension of the traditional ethics of people which regulates their interrelations and which therefore can be comprehended as a part of the normative order of society and its culture. A specific social function of this ethics as regards to the environment then also consists in the legitimization of a new alternative attitude of society and humans to nature, e.g., on the basis of alternative interpretations of scientific findings concerning ecosystems. This attitude would replace the present instrumental, power-based orientation contained in Parsonís (and obviously not only Parsonís) model of the interaction of society and nature.


The Culture Based Model


The above-mentioned earlier conceptual model of societyís interaction with nature was in terms of a separation of the natural environment from the social environment. This process from the modern cultural tradition which with E. KohŠk10 we would link with the "industrial-technocratic metaphor" of nature and world as a mechanism. In the natural sciences this metaphor appeared in the conception of nature as, for instance, a "bio-mechanism". In sociology it appears in the conception of the life processes of society as "social mechanisms". This metaphor establishes a certain power-based attitude and regulates human behaviour in the world. In the world of nature it is then the attitude of the master which assesses nature as a source of material. This metaphor seems to be firmly rooted in the modern society.

On the contrary, the metaphor of a harmony of man and nature, and of participation thusfar socially is weakly rooted. It is the "choice between a suitable an unsuitable metaphor"11 creating our social attitudes and regulating our action in the world. This requires a much more cautious, i.e., not only exact, but also ever more ethical, assessment of the impacts of these social attitudes and action, rather than only an indifferent description identified with objective truth. This has become the problem of the day.

Of course, in considering the relation of society and nature within the scheme in which there prevails the goal of an instrumental implementation of certain economically and technologically defined needs of the human society, we can notice also certain interaction feedbacks in natureís effect on society in the sense of survival, biological reproduction, and influence on the development of civilization. If then there occurs an ecological emergency ó for instance, the exhaustion of natural resources as a social effect (e.g., technical work) on the instrumentalized environment ó we can identify the retroactive influences of changes in the natural environment in the form of the consequences of previous social activity or their combinations. In this sense a number of social scientists also began to reflect upon the present ecological crisis in its manifest and empirically observable aspects ó for instance, overpopulation, migration, fight for resources, and the like.

There exists however a much deeper historical and cultural connection of this crisis in the relation of society and the natural environment which reflects the cultural dynamism of human society and the relations of society and humans in the process of modernization. For instance, the conceptualization of nature in the history of European thinking which searches for the sense, purpose and order of nature appears as an analogy deduced from the external manifestation of human activity, i.e., as an analogy of human society.12 There appear deeper connections between the theories of nature and the theories of society, when the social idea of nature represents a certain projection of the human perception of oneís ego and of the society upon the world or cosmos. On the other hand, theories of nature have been interpreted historically as containing the behaviour of individuals and social groups.13 In this sense one also can find certain reflections of the state of human society and its relations behind the metaphors of culture which express the conception of the interaction of society and nature. Behind the metaphor of organism one can see the more integrated premodern world of European societies, behind the metaphor of mechanism one finds the more differentiated social world of modernity, and the entire historical process of modernization is characterized by a complex structural differentiation and autonomization.14

The modernization paradigm of social motion which is based on the duality of subject and object, enlightenment anthropology, and the like, created a scheme of emancipation or liberation of humanity from nature as a realm of necessity, poverty, and the like. This reflected a teleology of societyís development facilitating the growing human emancipation, i.e. towards the attainment of greater liberty. This liberty was identified with the true human character and nature as a substance which results ontologically from the intellectual ability to reflect the world and the ability of self-reflection. In social development this naturalness in liberty must overcome the cultural and historical sediment of authoritative traditional structures, institutions, privileges, and the like. The appeal to science and reason was a part of this development in culture and society. Modern rationalization turning away from theology in reflecting on the environment was an instrument in the societyís liberation from the feudal traditional structures of mastery and its modernization, on the one hand. On the other, they led to the "disenchantment of the world"15 by its materialization, atomization and instrumentalization as shown by M. Weber. This appeared both in the auto-reflection of human society and in the reflection on nature and the relation to it. Many people see the long-term cause of the ecological crisis in the very projection of the dominant type of mastery among people in society into nature, that is, onto human societyís relation to nature. This is seen particularly in the modern idea of mastering nature, which identifies social progress with the rate of domination over nature.16


The Ambiguity of Modernization and the Double Environment


The process of modernization itself inside the society is however ambivalent, even from the viewpoint of the sociological investigation of sociocultural consequences for man. Thus, for instance, according to P.L. Berger the process of modernization is the development from fatality to choices in human life. According to Berger, it is mainly science and technology in the form of the ability of humans to control their environment which render these choices possible. Paradoxically, technology also makes it possible to control individual human lives by means of great and powerful institutions (e.g. the totalitarian state). The great drama of modernity consists in the "dynamic tension between liberation and enslavement."17

This paradoxical or ambivalent character of the historical process of modernization as a technical rationalization of power (mastery) over nature and people was already analyzed in a deeper way by M. Weber, particularly in his investigation of the dynamism of the Western cultural differentiation of social systems, the rationalization of the performance and organization of power (i.e. economic as well as political power) and the legitimization of authority by the rational means of science, law and the modern ideology of efficiency and effectiveness.18 In spite of the fact that this conception of Weber has been sometimes interpreted as a one-sided idealization of the modern bureaucratized and organized technical society (e.g., in the sociology and psychology of organizations), it is possible to consider it as a conception of the ambivalent character of modernity which has revealed the cultural context of connections between the mastery of nature and the development of mastery in society.

In this historical developmental context of the sociological analysis of the modernization of European civilization, N. Elias also pointed to the marked reenforcement of the technical factor in societyís conception of its relations to the environment and nature. According to Elias, this trend was evident as early as the high Middle Ages in Christian Europe in the West and resulted in the fact that in the process of formation of modern European society it was the very technologization of the internal and external interactions of social structures which ó apart from the apparent changes of the social class structure ó became the decisive moment in the process of civilization.19

The historical process of modern civilization can be reconstructed from the viewpoint of ecological connections between society and natural environment ó seen through the prism of power and control, mastery and domination. It appears as a contradictory process which, apart from the human social (and organized) activity aimed at the emancipation from nature and the control of its powers, contains the individualsí efforts at emancipation from the societyís supremacy as well. Modernity means both the growth processes of interdependence in society and the counter-processes of growing efforts toward the individualization and autonomization of man as a subject and an object at the same time.

As a matter of fact, the double determination of environment and of man in the ecosystem is the concern all the time of both society and the extra-social. The first or social determination itself makes it simultaneously possible to become conscious of the environment of both types and develops reflections and findings about both types of environment by means of sociocultural commu-nication, particularly speech communication. This may also be the reason for the fact that the cultural and artificially created social environment evolves into seemingly the only and main determination of human ecology. Oneís individualization in modern society in anonymous and objective relations also meant a reduction of relations with nature as well as a reduction of the natural environment itself. Anonymized individuals lose consciousness of their appurtenance to ecosystems. Relations with the world of nature and culture are increasingly mediated by the abstract network of artificial and intricate systems which become relatively independent as aspects of economy, politics, law, morals, arts, and the like. For this reason it is very complicated to situate in modern and thus functionally differentiated society concrete responsibility for the ecological problems and the negative consequences of the societyís effect on its environment.

The above-mentioned complex differentiation of the social environment in the modernization process of European societies ó which was observed and elaborated by M. Weber ó has from the viewpoint of the human social effect on nature rational, technical as well as ethical components, and at the same time it has ambivalent consequences. From the viewpoint of the comparison of the historical forms of this effect it is above all a matter of the ambivalence of creation and destruction, cooperation and combat, aggression, appurtenance and power-based domination and mastery. The unity of man and his forms of sociality with nature therefore appeared to S. Freud as a negative or predominantly negative matter, in terms of the fight for survival in evolution understood in the Darwinian sense. Hence humans creates culture and civilization as an artificial environment for his own safety. At the same time it is seen as an instrument of mastery, both with regard to nature and with regard to most people participating in the cultural community.20

According to Th. Adorno, M. Horkheimer and H. Marcuse, this cultural repression is based on science and legitimized by the universality of reason and the prevalence of instrumental rationality in the worldís manipulation. This mastery is based on the human mastery of its own nature and of work as the creation of individuals as well as of external, extra-human nature. Cultureís mastery of nature and man becomes a reasonable mastery ó "reasonable lack of freedom" ó in the sense of evolution of the level of civilization of man and his society ó even in the sense of the legitimization and justification of mastery.21 According to Marcuse, scientific rationality contains "hypothetical instrumentality" of the technological a priori ó projecting nature as "potential instrumentality." Simultaneously it founds the development of a specific technical organization of society and culture: "namely technology as a form of social control and domination."22 Thus the scientific method itself, which has led to an ever more effective mastery of man with regard to nature, has provided concepts and instruments for an ever more perfect and effective manís mastery of man through the mastery of nature.23 J. Habermas has shown that the rationalization of social structures is at the same time a rationalization which conceals the motives of archaic mastery by means of "the invocation of purposive-rational imperatives".24

The relation of humanity to nature, mediated socially and culturally in the context of civilization was essentially reduced (just as the rationalized nature was reduced from the viewpoint of useful perceptibility) to an instrumentally rational utilization. Simultaneously, this reduced it to the procedures of manipulation, with the treatment of things as means for human goals. In this way there arises in the social consciousness and in culture an assessment of nature in which value is deduced from human purposes and needs: nature becomes "secondary", society "primary". At the same time, the relations between people which are purposefully rationalized reflect similar relations to nature.

The modern attitude to the world is simultaneously interlinked with the value conflicts and cultural crisis. G. Simmel interpreted the crisis of modern society in terms of a cultural contradiction between the objective and subjective components of culture. Objective culture, based on the improvement of objectified products, creations and forms (e.g. of technics, science, art, religion, philosophy), does not serve the development of an individual man, though it states it in the framework of its own legitimization within societyís normative order. Instead, it becomes "the oppressive master of subjectivity in the actual order of historical development". The forms are deprived of their sense for the life of individuals and there appears a pathological identification of technical progress with cultural progress. Individuals escape to hedonistic consumption in which the individual seeks happiness and delight in the desire for money and whatever money can buy.25 But is this conducive to greater human dignity?

The idea of a free human subject ó which was also present at the birth of modern culture ó was to deprive humanity of its dependencies both on nature and on society. In the framework of the forms of modern social mastery there arises the dilemma of technical rationalization versus humanization of society, because the dark side of rationalization consists in the universalization of the manipulation both of nature and of humans. There arises the question whether it is possible to further develop human emancipatory goals and values in modern society irrespective of the values of the dignity and continuity of the variety of life and irrespective of undermining the ecological foundations of life.

For human dignity this fact means that one should not separate the problems in human relations in the social environment from the problems of societyís relations to the natural environment. This task requires new efforts to surpass the traditions of the dualistic structure of thinking26 (subject-object, spirit-body, culture-nature, and the like) which sets present barriers for the solution of topical problems connected with the contemporary, and unfortunately growing ecological crisis. It is possible to call this crisis in a radical way a consequence of technical civilizationís manipulations of nature and man or in a less radical way an unintended consequence of social interaction with the extra-human world. There arise also for socio-political analysis many concrete new phenomena created by these consequences, particularly if they are informatively communicated in society and come together as a conflicting field with regard to values, politics and interests.




The Challenge


The relation of society and nature in the present conditions of ecological crisis is connected with the power-based reduction of societyís interaction with the environment. This reflects an evident growth of problems with the effective regulation of negative, "secondary" or "unintended" consequences of the "management of resources" in the utilization and manipulation or control of the external environment of objectified and instrumentalized nature. If this relation is a part of the culture of totalitarian processes of modern society, on the one hand, then of course, on the other, nature still exists in and round a people though it is considerably devastated and disturbed by human activities. It is perceived and reflected sensually, aesthetically, emotionally, biologically (appearing, for instance, in the health conditions of the members of society) and rationally. In the situation of negative retroaction of the cumulated consequences of the power-based social interaction of society with natural environment, the biological component of manís constitutionality becomes a basic condition for the survival of humankind and their societies, and a prerequisite for further cultural and civilizing, economic as well as technological reproduction. As we have tried to indicate in brief, the dualization and "primarization" of culture against nature has its historical reasons, forms and connections; these, however, should not be considered as eternal, fatal and unchangeable. Nor should one deny the transcendental dimension of man, his rational and spiritual creativity, his moral self-reflexion and communicative ability.27

In the present modern industrial civilization this self-reflection and communication face the complex task of regulating the conflicts and disequilibriums of interests and values in society in connection with the natural ecological capacity of tolerability and permanent tenability.

Modern society as production and output-oriented faces nowadays the cumulative consequences of its own productiveness. It must bear the burden of the growing, excessive burden of the negative consequences of industrial activities. There arises a conflict of values and goals between production and its consequences: on the one hand, there is affluence, ownership, national state, legal and social securities; on the other, there is the accumulation of unintended or unwanted consequences of social action. For this reason apart from technical, legal, economic and sanitary reasons ó the significance of the ethical as well as of political discourse is also growing in this context.

U. Beck who works in this connection with the concept of "risk society" (Risikogesellschaft) has shown that the fact that this society produces mass dangers which cannot be seized by the structure of rationalized institutions ó e.g., economic calculus with their functional control-regulation system ó has become the number one problem. The dangers are ever more "externalized", which means that they fall outside institutions and upon the shoulders of the public, individuals, nature and future generations. Thus industrial society produces by its rationality the irrationality of endangering men and nature: both biologically, physically, technically and morally, socially, ethically. Any deeper reflection and discussion of ecological problems therefore increases the tension between values and institutions, apparatuses, legitimacy and legality. The effects exerted by such institutionalization and rationalization as would neutralize the social conflicts related to ecological problems frequently lead to legal individualization, technical legitimatization or political minimization. Thus the very legitimacy of the existence of apparatuses and institutions of modern society with their further expansion is also undermined. The traditional modernistic legitimatization ó based on the idea of the progress and rationality of institutions and their action ó obviously diverges from the natural life world. In this modern society of risk the social class conflicts as their institutionalization recede ó according to Beck ó into the background before the unlimited ecological menaces. Institutions manifest a chronic contradictoriness: on the one hand, they make efforts for the security and control of risks and, on the other, they simultaneously legalize the irresponsible practice of hazard with the possibility of a catastrophe.28

The technical-economic power of modern society is thus overshadowed by the production of its own encumberment with risks. Ecological and other research surveys and public information which try to reflect this contradiction create a platform of new social movements and political controversies The contradictoriness of values and interests and the value-ideological level of ecological incompatibility are a consequence of the trend to mistake legitimacy for legality, as well as an effect of the "rhetoric of fear, of anxiety" in societyís consciousness. This also supplements the broad inability to take over real responsibility for further perspectives and future generations in the atmosphere of a long-term Cold War, with the menace of nuclear destruction with uneasily imaginable impact. It is indisputable that both exercised and still exercise influence on society ó for instance, in the reproduction of value hedonism "Here and Now" or "Me-First", reminding one of the late Roman "carpe diem".29

The consciousness of ecological menace is therefore not only a "positive" stimulus to growth of the "solidarity of fear and danger," but evokes the need of socially and culturally developed ecological ethics or ethics of regard to the environment and social solidarization. The former is a matter not only of the ethical charge of ecological knowledge, but also of a much broader relation to the above-mentioned double environment. This consciousness is also a source of tension and conflict inside society in the form of growth in consciousness of the risk of societyís self-destruction; this continues to feed this self-destruction, while stimulating and also communicating it at the same time. In fact, respect for others is respect for oneself.


The Emergence of Environmentalism


The movements for the protection of living environment, protection of living beings, conservation, alternative technologies (both with regard to industrial and energy production), changes of human values and life styles, and the like, were briefly denominated as "environmentalist" or "green" movement.30 They are a new type of civic movement arising in the context of the tension between legitimacy and legality ó between the modern societyís values and institutions.

Environmentalism today can be considered a "global subculture"31 which unites with political, religious and ethical movements and creates the platform for a fundamental dialogue in society. The purpose consists in the creation of a new type of social self-reflection oriented towards societyís relations to the local and global natural environment, that is, in the creation of ecological consciousness.

From the beginning of the 1970s this self-reflection aimed at the formation of consciousness of the growing risk connected with the uncorrected continuation of the previous evolution of modern civilization. The civilizational ecological criticism was supplied with weighty arguments about the deterioration of the quality of the life environment and the accelerating devastation of nature. Great discussions ó for instance, the "Global Debate" about the limits of economic growth which was initiated by the Club of Rome, as well other discussions ó evoked significant new moments in cultural consciousness, scientific and political thinking and strategic considerations which were orientated towards the search for alternatives to the status quo.32 Alternative thinking aims at the reversal of ecological crisis into the opportunity for societyís self-transformation and therefore evokes great expectations with a view to the human spiritual and intellectual creative potential, to culture and to society.

For instance, environmentalism in the USA appeared on the cultural, scientific and political scene around 1970 and spread at first among the prosperous, educated and conservative segments of the white society. Ecological criticism referred above all to the fact that the system did not work as it should and that it was therefore necessary to look for concrete technical and social solutions in the form of innovations, new alternative technologies, reforms, legislative changes ó i.e. in the form of creating the instruments of social control of the human societyís relations to the natural and artificial environments. In this way many improvements were indisputably achieved, many legislative measures were implemented, and the like. Soon, however, it became evident that ecological problems and ecological crisis in general were not only a result of the systemic functioning or individual dysfunctions in differentiated subsystems or institutions which could be amended or adjusted by means of a reform of traditional public policy.

It became evident that it was a matter of much broader and deeper problems of the nature of man, his society, culture and, last but not least, of the very power metaphor of technical control of the world. That is, of the already analyzed modes of human reference to the world which it controls without being effectively controlled as regards itself.

Thus environmentalism became not only a civil political movement, but also above all a social and personal self-reflection.33 This proceeds from the massive criticism of modern thinking and the practice of industrial exploitation of nature, of the goal of a linear growth of production and consumption with multiple consequences which are generally denoted by the term of ecological crisis. Environmentalism appears as a "postmodern" criticism. It contrasts to the dominant problems of modern society and its theory concentrated round rationalization or criticism, or the alienation of human relations inside society. Instead, it stresses criticism of the alienation of human societyís relations to nature and shows that the consequences of the rationalization of relations both in the "internal" and "external" environment afflict all individuals and social groups involved in the devastation of nature and man.

From this viewpoint environmentalism is a type of social knowledge and consciousness which connects criticism not with the particularization of social interests and their conflict, but with the way of life of society as a whole as a system in interaction with environment. Instead of the differentiation of the rate of responsibility inside human society, it stresses the universalistic issue of human responsibility to the world and to other people, as well as to itself.

In this way there arises a challenge in social communication in the form of expectation of changes in everyday consciousness and action, changes oriented towards acceptance of oneís own part of the responsibility. It becomes an appeal to human self-interest, to humans not only as social actors or members of society or culture, but also as members of the natural community, as a biological, physical, living and thus also mortal, natural being.34

This formation of alternative consciousness, however, contained from the first a value conflict, e.g. between the interest of being healthy (which so far has been defined socially in a modern way in the form of an institutionalized health system and connected with the personal expectation of services provided by this system) and the interest in the rise of the material standard of living and in the quality of life. Ordinary everyday consciousness reflects in an elemental fashion the wish for unification or synthesis of these interests in the aspiration "to have both".35

This value conflict then creates a basis or field for the origin of social conflicts or quasi-group interests concentrated round the interpretation of the ecological appeal in society and evoking the need of their technical or political (rational-technical) or discursive solution. As far as these solutions tend to an institutional neutralization of the conflict, which seems to be the rule, they do not yet imply a solution of the conflict between legitimacy and legality.36

One can consider as a significant social factor of the vigor of environmentalism as a "global subculture" and as "ecological communication"37 in society the growing possibilities of information dissemination and its effect on the public. That is, the growth of the rate as well as of the quality of being informed about the state of the deterioration or improvement of the ecological quality of life. This includes the possibilities of information dissemination about the ecological crisis locally and globally, about ecological damage, scientific and technological discoveries, measurements and assessments of the impacts of different technologies. There is an extensive and frequently very radical criticism of modern perceptive natural science and "technoscience." But the source of ecological philosophy, ethics, theology or ecological political theory is above all scientific information about the ecological impacts and limits, as well as the ecological risks of survival. That is, not only the survival of so-called external nature as an environment of man and nature, but also the survival of the so-called internal nature of man as a biological individual or organism, and also that of human society. As a matter of fact, a great amount of information points to how fragile and easily destructible is not only nature, but the modern society of scientific and technological devices as well. The growing consciousness of human, natural and social risks and its communication create psychological situations and political pressures on the systems of political action and decision-making with the aim of stopping the growth of this risk and reducing stress and uncertainties.

In this situation of ecological communication of risk, however, there arise also numerous destructive steps in the growth of fear and anxiety ó "ecological anxiety." This is dealt with by N. Luhmann who shows that thees cannot be effectively regulated by society as deviations; the possible panic cannot be normatively regulated, for instance, forbidden or scientifically explained, and the like. Luhmann hints at the origin of the "rhetoric of anxiety",38 Beck at the "solidarity of fear" when political discussions focus on the risks and consequences of modernization in the form of irrevocable endangerments of the life of plants, animals and man.39 The effects of this anxiety and growing fears strengthen and motivate the creation of new social solidarities, which leads to a new moral based on the common interest of removing anxiety.40 A. Giddens speaks in an analogous way about the expansion of the risks of modernity, and about the expansion of the consciousness of risks connected with life in modern society. According to Giddens, to live in this society means to believe in "expert systems," in anonymous social relations. The production, distribution, dissemination and communication of new knowledge and findings about the world, however, lead to "reflexive modifications" of social relations41 and transformations of natural-technical reality. In this way the risks of modernity become ever more global and have social origin and character, i.e., they are super-individual and not easily localizable in society. In that way social reflection leads to the expansion of the consciousness of risk which changes the nature of this risk itself, because the public is in the position of a layman in relation to the overwhelming majority of expert systems.42

The efforts at a rational answer to uncertainties and fears in this situation create two types of attitudes: the utopian realism of the policy of projects oriented towards the future and realistically linked with the immanent trends of development, and the formation of social movements oriented towards local and global action in the macrosocial as well as experiential dimension of modern life.

According to N. Luhmann, the semantic effect of the reflection of communication of ecological warning information represents another problem that proceeds from the communication of ecological risks, threats and anxiety. The communication of anxiety makes it possible to communicate anxiety which is self-supportive in this sense: talk about uncontrollable anxiety spreads universally throughout society. The rhetoric of anxiety is selective because it psychologically accentuates the deterioration of the situation to the detriment of its improvement. In the means of communication anxiety become a moral problem which determines our duty to participate in the publicís fears in a normative way, i.e. it becomes a duty to feel uneasy ó even to participate in the fears and demands for protection against the dangers of ecological crisis and ecological riskiness. This self-feeding character of the communication of anxiety which is caused by ecological dangers as well as by the moralization of peopleís relation to this anxiety functions on the principle of self-justification. This does not require theoretical argumentation because "anxiety changes the uncertainty of the situation into the certainty of anxiety".43 The semantic nature of this phenomenon makes it impossible for any subsystem (institutions) to master anxiety.


The Moral Issue


Ecological communication and the volume of such information in society, however, create positive prerequisites for (reflective) social theory as well: The search for alternatives and new solutions provides chances for new social and human creativity ó both individual and collective, group and institutional. Instances are the practical solution of the needs of conservation and protection of nature, resources of water, oxygen, human health and the life of extra-human beings, and the like. Ecological communication, mediated in this way, becomes a medium of many useful human activities and a source of the sense of social action for people which often is absent in the institutions, apparatuses and subsystems of modern industrial society. Ecological communication helps to disseminate new meaning of social activity, new values in the context of existing dominant values in society. Some authors are excessively optimistic in their evaluation of the changes in values, as far as the effects of new environmentalistic values on the dominant systems of culture are concerned. Others presume that the contemporary cultural and value crisis of modern society will be fully overcome only when the new "environmental paradigm" fully substitutes the present predominant structure of values of the perduring "industrial" culture. The first viewpoint can be found, e.g. in L. Milbrathís study concerning the vanguard social role of environmentalism, the other in the works of C.F. Ferkiss or W.T. Anderson.44

In the context of the cultural change of values W.T. Anderson points to the problem of social communication of ecological communication. Thus, for instance, the research surveys on public opinion create information which has a feedback effect to the publicís consciousness. N. Luhmann reacts to this in his conception as well. According to Anderson, investigation of the purely rhetorical base and the form of this communication situates the complex cultural changes much nearer "than it develops in reality".45 In his opinion from the viewpoint of cultural and value change in society the environmental movement is very contradictory and brings about many difficult political problems. It goes without saying that it has however brought a whole number of significant new values for the emerging "bioculture" as an alternative for the "technoculture" of modern society, on the one hand. On the other and at the same time, this new bioculture has an intrinsic disposition to become global, worldwide or planetary. In contrast, most "ecotoplan" theories (i.e. Utopias of the target ideal of an ecologically sustainable society) are based on the model of a self-sufficient local community. Members are more localists and separatists than members of a global polis. As a matter of fact, there appears at this moment a contradiction between the global and regional perspective of environmentalism. This is connected with the diversity of political cultures. According to Anderson, this diversity will be reaffirmed within the framework of a global polis through common programmes and projects of cooperation, based on interdependence and consciousness that one lives in a biosphere, though being also a member of society.

For this reason, the conscious search for ethical, political, economic and technical answers to the changing conditions of life on the planet is a positive effect of the ecological discourse in society. However, it sets unprecedented demands on social communication as well as on institutional and political decision making for the solution of emerging value conflicts.

These solutions which presuppose the existence of a pluralistic (democratic) situation with the possibility of controlling institutions by means of values concern ecological problems and conflicts like any other social conflicts. According to Vaclav Bćlohradskż, in such a situation it is a matter of "putting through the predominance of values over the interests of institutions by means of civic movements which do not seek political power but space for the tension between institutions and values". Correspondingly, political decision making should proceed more and more "from more general viewpoints than the partial interests of structures if the movements are to be accepted as legitimate."46

Developments show that even though the ecological movements of environmentalism are legalized, this does not yet mean a practical solution to the dilemmas of interest and value conflict within the framework of the still dominant industrial or modern "technoculture", on the one hand. On the other, the existence and effect of this conflict is for contemporary civilization a basis (and a prerequisite) of constructive tension. This evokes, among other things, the need of human potential for the search for creative alternatives for the new adaptation of society. This is proved by the development in the 70s, 80s and 90s which was initiated by the very sharp debates in the communication of, e.g., pessimistic, alarming and warning information, prognoses and judgements about the limitedness of our planet and about the limits of the extensive or expanding economic growth.

Even though R. Dahrendorf does not explicitly deal with the ecological problem in his analysis of modern social conflict, nevertheless he acknowledges the importance of discussions on global problems in the socio-political context.47 Dahrendorf does not deny the existence of these problems, but he considers that they were exaggerated by the Club of Rome and that the Meadowsí study Limits to Growth neglected the possibilities of conservation ó of savings and new methods and alternatives. But there then came to the fore the problem of pollution which shaped all action agendas, overpopulation and other global problems, inclusive of the new forms of death (e.g., AIDS). These forced people "to fear and to think about the future".48 Dahrendorf critically refuses above all the extrapolations and the "idea of limits" itself as limited thinking on the concepts of limits. He considers real historical development to be rather a non-linear and non-extrapolated movement of the knight in the game of chess moving "aside and forward ó i.e. by detour".

On the other hand, he acknowledges the significance of the global debate and the experience of the 70s as a moment of reversal in earlier social development which he compares to the transition "from the liberal to the social democratic century a hundred years ago".49 Dahrendorf sees the main significance of this moment of reversal (possibly inspired by a similar term of MesaroviÉ and Pestel) in the fact that the effort "to cope with the new situation" became the main condition of policy everywhere. In economic thinking it was awareness of how unhealthy it is to make it possible for societies and economies to develop in an undisturbed way, "without internal and external shocks", and thus to rigidify and become unable to innovate and adapt themselves. Thus Dahrendorf assesses in the main positive influence and effect of the ecological and global debate in social communication on the social development, as well as being part of the content of modern social conflict. Finally, he acknowledges some usefulness of the concept of "limits" for the search for alternatives to the limits of the "state of social services" or the "welfare state", which creates new reasons for the legitimization of its necessity. Dahrendorf also outlines cautiously the differences on the value spectrum between the policy of "the Greens" and "those who tried to become rich quickly". This appears as a conflict between adherents of the social costs of growth and the adherents of the social costs of non-growth.50

The ecological discourse in modern society brings with it ó as is obvious from our analysis ó both a potential for social conflict and stimuli for alternative changes in thinking and decision making, values and goals, as well as new unities or solidarities in society. The need of alternatives grows above all from awareness that ecological problems are primarily not of technical origin, and that as such they cannot be solved effectively without taking into regard the socio-cultural and political context and thus being treated as a moral problem.




The reintroduction of moral value and valuation into our understanding of the world and of the ethical checks of self-control into our whole cultural relationship with nature has become not only a political necessity, but also a matter of human dignity and good life in a good society.

Given this necessary premise, we should hardly understand these tasks as a simple confrontation which counters directly modern value-free rationality of the scientific, disenchanted, view of the world. It should be rather complementary ó both within science and wider societal culture. Rather, ethical value-rationality, in a sense of nearly Kantian practical reason, should confront the technological manipulative attitudes to the natural world as environment. This "ethicization" of our images and attitudes to the world should then lead our conduct along an alternative path against technocentric megalomania with its far-reaching impacts and risks.

To avoid the risks and cure their causes, therefore, means also to confront patterns of power within the human structure of social life, within the structures of rationalized systems of domination in modern society. For science, technology and ethics evolve and effect through human action, and patterns of conduct within certain social contexts.

The problem with environmentally responsible ethics arises in terms of how to implement this practical reason within the context of structures of modern instrumental reason, i.e., the structures of instrumentalized action. The search for alternative moral conduct should build on the European cultural heritage, for instance, the Aristotelian unity of human technical, scientific and aesthetic faculties and virtues, connecting them with moral political conduct. There is also the Biblical tradition of the metaphor of human dominion, which contains both aspects: the power and domination paradigm on the one side, and the morally responsible and cognitive respect of the whole of creation as a community created by God, on the other. In both conceptual frameworks much is to be learned: cognitive respect means mutual understanding within this community as a presupposition for an adequate policy for the public good, which thus becomes a realization of the moral control of power and of the structures of domination in human action.

In short, ecological morality should become the capacity for self-control in human action oriented toward control of the environment. This capacity can be seen as an organic part of culture as the cultivation of human potential to develop not only instrumental capacities, but also intrinsic, non-instrumental, existential aesthetical capabilities as well.


The Human Dominion Metaphor


The Biblical tradition bears a certain tradition of the sacred dignity of all creation. At the same time this has been influenced by certain interpretations of the cultural meaning of the metaphor of human dominion. One interpretation sees the place and relation of humanity to the natural world as either master or viceroy of God on earth. This implies exceptional human dignity, based on the divine gift of the Spirit. Other variations interpret the human position and dignity as shared with and conditioned by a moral vision of respect for other parts of creation because they are Godís creations and thus sacred. Humans are not apart, but situated within earthly creation, and as such "members of the natural community". Human will and action are therefore limited by ethical norms established independently of human purposes. Similarly, the surrounding world of nature has its purpose entirely apart from its function as a material basis of human activities. This implies that human dominion on Earth should be interpreted in a wider ethical framework and/or moral policy.

The first version is now undergoing a certain reinterpretation of dominion read in a sense of domination51 which metaphor had political connotations as this shrunk into a blind desire for power. Such secularized power in its political, technological, military, etc. forms lacks ethical good, moral responsibility and respect for the dignity of living beings, and leads to current critical environmental problems.

Alternatively, the second version interpreted human "lordship on Earth" as a rather gentle duty, a stewardship52 of a divine creation based upon an understanding and appreciation of what nature is about and with love for nature. These human qualities should become the qualifications for attaining truly human dignity, as well as knowledge of the functioning. This knowledge should also be more predictive because we need to know what to expect from the results of our own actions. These human qualities and qualifications, therefore, can be seen as necessary steps toward proper dominion of earthly nature.


Pursuit of the Good Life as a Politics of Human Capacity

for Self-Actualization


Human self-fulfillment is not only in terms of values and interests of wealth, status and power ó but also in terms of the realization of potential faculties that define such practices. This means, to recall the Aristotelian distinction between living and living well, that human well-being is not to be identified either with the realization of psychological states or satisfaction of preferences, or with the possession or realization of objective goods which includes the achievement of certain human perfection.

The pursuit of the good life in society requires certain politics such that it allows a plurality of human practices to flourish. The conditions of social choice should allow different judgements about the value of objects surrounding us. Such a view of public life and its political context is necessary if human society is to be ecologically wise. This ecological view consists of:


(a) an appreciation of, and concern for, the goods of the natural world, by means both of sciences and of arts and religious piety; this should open humans to the goods around them;

(b) socio-political contexts which recognize that human individuals do not live in a vacuum and situate them within certain historical traditions in which the well-being of those in the present is tied to that of those in the future;

(c) such contexts and practices distinguish living from living well so that the boundaries or limits in the human acquisition of material goods are recognized.


Politics and political economy should then be informed by such practices and ways of life in the society as "economy" in the Aristotelian sense: i.e., as the art of wise household management which recognizes that there are limits to the material things and acquisitions required for the good life.

With respect to socio-cultural contexts, rational adaptation to limits posed by current environmental situations therefore now requires a different institutional context with a much wider and wiser definition of human interests. Environmental policy should not be obsessed with environmental limits only and/or by the projection of possible catastrophes ó but be directed rather towards a certain revitalization of civil society, where the goods of life (i.e., also environmental values) are pursued and discussed. There is, nevertheless, a problem regarding how an ecologically rational politics could be practically pursued and discussed by citizens within the various institutional frameworks or contexts of the present modern culture (for example market economy, state administration, etc.) with their often conflicting constraints, pressures or goals and rules. To build different institutional contexts is to care seriously about better conditions which facilitate human potential growth where human capacities could flourish. It is precisely this care and protection of the growth potential of human capacities which should become one of the strategic goals for environmentally-oriented efforts of the politics and political culture of civil society.




Nowadays philosophy and other fields of inquiry cannot evade the existence of the ecological crisis and the effect of the cumulated problems and consequences of the activities of modern industrial society. These are the consequences of the socio-cultural metaphor of domination which legitimized this action. Otherwise, it could find itself in the opposite role of a surprised observer of new conflicts which result from misunderstanding the social causes and effects of ecological problems and the nature of growing interdependencies of the coevolution of man, nature and society. This is the challenge to identify in time the social context, sense, importance and historical causes of the topical and contradictory processes in environmenta-lism. It is a dynamic intellectual process of cultural and civilizational criticism, theory of science, philosophy and "greening" of the natural and social consciousness of global endangerments, social risk and the existing form, structure and orientation of social systems. It is also a challenge both to change awareness and action, and to new adaptation and qualitative transformation.

This transformation has as its prerequisites a deeper understanding and explanation of the coevolutionary dependencies between society and nature. We shall have that as long as there continues a one-sided conception of the interaction of society and nature based ethically on power and control. In that case unfortunately the external and internal destruction of the environment can only deepen further: biologically, economically, socially and morally. The other possible interpretation of the sense of the present ecological discourse in modern society is that value and institutional conflicts, linked with confrontations in communication which arise and will continue to arise in the future, may act at the same time as socially solidarizing and diversifying factors. Along with the destruction and disintegration of earlier patterns of interaction between society and nature, these can evoke new chances for change and new adaptation promoting greater human dignity.




1. The fact of feedback impacts the global and local processes of the deterioration of the natural environment on the industrial societies of modern civilization and motivates the need for research and investment into the permanently sustainable economic development of societies. At the same time it evokes the urgent need of new alternative approaches to the coevolution of society and nature. See e.g. R. Norgaard, "Sustainable Development: a Co-evolutionary View", Futures, 20, 6 (1988), pp. 606-620.

2. Assessment of the negative impacts of modern technologies is a difficult task ó for instance, to express ecological damage concerning human health in terms of money (comp. in greater detail: J.F. Coates, "Technology Assessment: the Benefits, the Costs, the Consequences," The Futurist V (December 1971), p. 228; F. Hetman, Society and the Assessment of Technology, (Paris: OECD, 1973).

3. Th. Rozsak, Where the Wasteland Ends. Politics and Transcendence in Post-industrial Society (London: Faber, 1973), p. 37.

4 According to T. Benton, the duality differentiating the biological-social and nature-culture has retarded sociological research concerning the linkage between these abstractly opposed spheres (T. Benton, "Biology and Social Science: Why the Return of the Repressed Should be Given a Cautious Welcome", Sociology, 25 [No. 1, February 1991], 7). Catton and Dunlap refer to this problem (W.R. Catton and R.E. Dunlap, "Environmental Sociology. A New Paradigm," American Sociologist 13 [1978], 41-49) in a similar way as, for instance, M. Redclift in the context of development (M. Redclift, Development and the Environmental Crisis [London: Methuen, 1984]). Benton proposed a taxonomic survey of the topical sociological research agenda in the following fields: social and personal conditions of health and illness, relations between the sexes and social structure, ecological conditions and unintended consequences of the human social interaction with the extra-human world, patterns of social conflict by which these conditions and consequences are created. (T. Benton, op. cit., p. 25)

5. D. Worster, Natureís Economy. A History of Ecological Ideas (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 291-311.

6. T. Parsons, Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives (Englewood-Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1966), p. 16.

7. Ibid., pp. 38-39.

8. Ibid., p. 38.

9. Environmental ethics ó developed above all in the framework of moral philosophy ó deals with the moral relations between men and the natural world, further with the principles which determine the human duties and responsibility to the earthly natural environment and its inhabitants (P.W. Taylor, Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics [Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1986], p. 3); it also endeavors to build up a suitable axiology and particularly to replace the instrumental values by such values as acknowledge the internal values of nature and its individual parts, not only such as result only from their functional linkage to the whole of the ecosystem, but from their existence, aesthetic qualities, and the like. For instance, E. Hargrove pleads for the establishment of environmental ethics on the very aesthetic values of nature which he considers from the ontological viewpoint as more original for man, i.e. as existing prior to economic or scientific values (E.C. Hargrove, Foundations of Environmental Ethics [New Jersey: Englewood cliffs, 1989], pp. 125-126). There also exists critical reservation to the fact that the ethical approach within the framework of moral philosophy has meanwhile mostly ignored the historical, political and social relationships of ecological problems; that it is individualistic and apolitical (e.g., the belief in respect for nature only in the case of an individual); that it characterizes man more or less independently of the concrete social contexts. Environmental ethics has so far concentrated for the most part on the changes of individual attitudes to the detriment of the societyís political and structural changes and not on political problems which are faced by man as a social actor in the context of power-based relations, because an ecological problem is above all a political problem. Yet, environmental issues need some political framework because they really are political problems ó that is, problems that confront us as social beings within the context of power relationships. (T.W. Simon, "Varieties of Ecological Dialectics", in Environmental Ethics, vol. 12, No. 3 [Fall, 1990], p. 215-216).

10. E. KohŠk, "Hovory se stromem," Filozoficky casopis, 39 (No. 6, 1991), 903-912.

11. Ibid., p. 911.

12. C.I. Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore. Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), p. 4.

13. C. Merchant proved this fact on the connections of the paradigmatic structure of the unification of social and cosmic reality in the historical conditions of transition from the agrarian to the industrial way of life in which the ecology and economy of farm, forest and swamps were replaced by the new forms of human interaction with nature. Societyís organic traditions and social organizations were destroyed as well. C. Merchant, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (San Francisco: Harper, 1989), p. 68.

14. The mechanical metaphor was advanced at the time of acceleration in commerce, transport, banking, metallurgy, mining and the application of machines. The way to a more extensive exploitation of nature was opened by these new social goals of European society jointly with the legitimization of the philosophical and scientific "killing" of nature, which removed the moral scruples connected with this metaphor of earth as an organism and living creature. Organism was replaced by mechanism and the world became more rational, more predictable and manipulable. The instrumentally manipulative pattern which is concentrated on power has penetrated modern development from the 17th to the 20th century in government, technology and science. The power-based goals have spread from society to nature. The control and destruction of the natural environment have brought many ambivalent consequences for society because the metaphor of a machine (e.g. clockwork) mechanism began to hold even in human society. C. Merchant, op. cit., p. 227.

15. Considering the reconstruction of Weberís concept Entzauberung der Welt (disenchantment of the world) see J. Habermas, Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns, I (Frankfurt, a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1988), pp. 262-298.

16. M. Bookchin analyzed the extension of social relations to relations to nature on the example of the pattern of a hierarchic structure of power. He interprets the relations of society and nature as dialectical relations. The modern institution of control and mastery is based on the moral of hierarchy and proceeds from the epistemology of government : the origin of mastery of nature lies in manís mastery of man and his archetypal moral of patriarchy as human mastery of woman and his mastery of nature. M. Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom. The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (Palo Alto, Ca.: Cheshire Books, 1982), p. 121.

17. P.L. Berger, The Capitalist Revolution. Fifty Propositions about Prosperity, Equality and Liberty (New York: Basic Books, 1986), p. 86.

18. M. Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, trans. by A.M. Henderson and T. Parsons (London: Macmillan, 1964), pp. 115-131, 148-153, 184-191. For more recent analyses of Weberís conception of the rationalization process in the development of modern society, compare W.M. Sprondel, C. Seyfarth, Max Weber und das Problem der gesellschaftlichen Rationalisierung (Stuttgart, 1981); S. Kallenberg, "Weberís Types of Rationality: Cornerstones for the Analysis of Rationalization Process in History", American Journal of Sociology, 85 (1980), P. 1145.

19. N. Elias, The Civilizing Process. Vol. II.: State Formation and Civilization (Oxford: Blackwell, 1982).

20. S. Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (London: Hogarth Press, 1972).

21. H. Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man (New York: Sphere Books, 1970), pp. 115-125.

22. Ibid., p. 129.

23. Ibid., p. 130.

24. It follows from Habermasís conception that modern societyís relation to nature is a relation of objectified human communication in which instrumental rationality ousted symbolic interaction by a scientific model: the powers of nature and man are disposable means of the functional adaptation of the societyís self-maintaining system. Rationalization means that both nature and man are subjected to the goals of the abstract social whole ó to the system which stands up against them as a subject. The communication with nature and among people is thus an alienated communication. J. Habermas, Towards a Rational Society (London: Heinemann, 1971), pp. 86-88.

25. D. Weinstein and M.A. Weinstein, "Simmel and the Theory of Postmodern Society," in B.S. Turner (ed.), Theories of Modernity and Postmodernity (London: Sage, 1990), p. 79-80; further, G. Simmel, "The Conflict of Modern Culture," in P. Lawrence, Georg Simmel: Sociologist and European (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1976), pp. 223-212. According to Ch. Lasch, the psychological narcissistic trend testifies to the way in which individuals submit to the social dynamism of modern consumption. If they do not realize their actual needs, they begin to look for substitutes in consumption which, however, cannot substitute for the spiritual void and create intimacy; the individual then delivers the lack of development of his own personality to the tender mercies of manipulation. Ch. Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (New York: Norton, 1978).

26. The thesis on the coevolution of human cultural, natural and biological aspects makes it possible to overcome the radical dichotomy of anthropocentrism and biocentrism on the basis of a revision of the dualism of subject and object, human and natural creations: it influences the degree of adaptation, survival and reproduction in natural and social environments in a selective way in the mutual interaction of cultural and biological evolution. The coevolutionary approach can explain the adaptiveness of human social behaviour without its enforcement of the models of natural selection or separation of the influences of genetics and culture, as is assumed by W. Durham. W. Durham, "Towards a Coevolutionary Theory of Human Biology and Culture," in A. Caplan, (ed.) The Sociobiology Debate. Readings on the Ethical and Scientific Issues concerning Sociobiology (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), p. 441.

27. The human speech ability as a social property can appear as a basis for the differentiation of the natural, the human, and the cultural, i.e., for the dualistic distinction and thus also as a discursive barrier. This ability, however, can be also an opportunity for discursive equality in the partnership of men and nature as a communicative rationality which would found the alternative ethics of men and human society in their relations to nature instead of instrumental rationality. See J. Dryzek, "Green Reason: Communicative Ethics for the Biosphere," Environmental Ethics, 12 (no. 3, 1990), 195-210.

28. H. Beck, Risksgesellschaft. Auf dem Weg in eine andere Moderne (Frankfurt, a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1986).

29. "Me-First!" is a psychoculture by means of which D. Yankelowich denoted the type of a hedonistic consumption attitude spread in modern society. This modus of human self-realization was construed by Yankelowich on the basis of public opinion polls. He pointed to the ethical-ecological limitedness of the culture of narcissism and expressed the opinion that it was necessary to implement qualitative value changes. D. Yankelowich, The New Rules: Searching for Self-fulfillment in a World Turned Upside Down (New York: Random House 1981). According to E. Fromm, this orientation of man means "to have and not to be", it is an expression of the alienated relation of human individuals to the world which is reduced to possessiveness. E. Fromm, To Have or to Be? (London: Heinemann, 1976). D. Johns considers narcissism as a basis of social manipulation in modern society; according to him, excessive consumption is a symbol of success for the individuals, society and the whole civilization; simultaneously it symbolizes the triumph of control and technology on the basis of the anthropocentric idea of man as a master of the Earth and a central point of the universe. D.M. Johns, "The Relevance of Deep Ecology," Environmental Ethics, 12 (no. 3, Fall 1990), p. 243. However, there exists a difference between egocentrism which is represented by the narcissism of "Me First!" and anthropocentrism as a view of life, i.e., the difference between real everyday behaviour and values as a view of life.

30. T. OíRiordan, Environmentalism (London: Pion, 1981). The author followed the global discussion on the limits of growth and expressed the opinion that this was not a matter of the mere problem of the equilibrium between population and resources, but of the goals for which the resources are used in economic growth as well as of the moral problem of the loss of modern societyís respect for nature. Ecocentrism as an alternative of the modern anthropocentric orientation of goals and patterning of social behaviour therefore requires a revision of the goals and means of societyís development. D. Peeper analyses in detail the practice of environmentalism in Great Britain and the USA in his work The Roots of Modern Environmentalism (New Hampshire: Croom Helm, 1984). J. Petulla sets the movement and ideas of environ-mentalism into the interpretative framework of an analysis of the value structure of American society and confronts the competition of different trends ó i.e., economic, ecological and biocentric ó in the creation of environmental policy. J.M. Petulla, American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities (Collese Station: Texas University Press, 1980). B. van Steebergen considers environ-mentalism as a new political ideology which originated in the 70s, stagnated in the 80s and again reached the "peak of political agenda" in the 90s. Recent development has disproved the objections against environmentalism as an ideology: both from the part of technocrats who consider ecoproblems as technical and soluble in the framework of the present economic order and from the part of socialists who experience competitive endangerment from the part of ecological movements and who blame "green ideology" for non-complexity and accentuation of one partial problem. Steenbergen says that it becomes doubtful that "we can solve our ecological problems in the context of an expanding economy; it is also becoming clear that we can develop a complete ideology and an economic theory, as well as a vision of future society" B. van Steenbergen, "Scenarios for Europe in the l990ís: The Role of Citizenship and Participation," Futures, 22 (no. 6, November 1990), p. 964.

31. W.T. Anderson, To Govern Evolution. Further Adventures of the Political Animal (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987), p. 290.

32. Comp. D.H. Meadows, et al., The Limits to Growth (New York: Universe Books, 1972); A.D. Herrera and H.D. Scolnik, Catastrophe or New Society? (Ottawa: IDRC, 1976); I. Miles and J. Irvine, The Poverty of Progress. Changing Ways of Life in Industrial Societies (Oxford: Persamon Press, 1982).

33. Comp. e.g. A. Stikker, "Evolution and Ecology," Futures, 22 (no. 2, March, 1990), 168-171; A. Pricels, "Value and the Environment," Futures, 22 (no. 4, May, 1990), 436-439.

34. B. Turner, The Body and Society (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984); the term "biotic community" recently has been advanced by deep ecology and deep anthropology. This concept is to serve the moral conception of the interaction of human society with nature on the basis of acknowledging nature as a value in itself. A. Wittbecker, "Deep Anthropology: Ecology and Human Order," Environmental Ethics, (no. 3, 1986), 268-270.

35. According to the above-mentioned public opinion polls carried out by D. Yankelowich, most Americans want wealth and consumption as well as ecological security and quality of life in a healthy natural environment: they want more material goods as well as more personal freedom. They want to have more leisure jointly with present comfort, to maintain economic securities and simultaneously experience adventures, variety and change. Most of them appreciate political freedom and new social claims. (D. Yankelowich, op. cit., 159.) This internal value conflict of aspirations contrasts with the hopes and challenges of the ecological adherents of sustainable society and the life style of conservation: D. Elgin and L.F. Brown propose the values related to the life style of "voluntary simplicity" based on the tightening of oneís belt in consumption and on the preference of "higher", spiritual goals of life. D. Elgin, Voluntary Simplicity (New York: W. Morrow, 1981); L.F. Brown, Building a Sustainable Society (New York: Norton, 1981).

36. Y. Bćlohradskż, PÕfrozenż svćt iako politickż problťm (Natural World as a Political Problem) (Praha: Ąs. spisovatel, 1991), p. 190; R.J. Dalton and M. Kuechler, (eds), Challenging the Political Order: New Social and Political Movements in Western Democracies (Oxford: Polity Press, 1990); they also stress the unsuitability of modern institutional form of policy in the articulation of new needs (inclusive of the need to solve the ecological problem of regulating the interaction of society with nature. New social movements, though unique, can always be overcome by the devouring mainstream of institutionalized policy.

37. N. Luhmann, Ecological Communication (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989); defines ecological communication from two viewpoints: a) the unity of differentiation of the system of society and its environment, and b) the self-referential operations produced within the society (autopofesis) (N. Luhmann, op. cit., p. 7). The communication of ecological problems in society can be connected with the role of the ecological movement as a pressure group with its influence on the public and the government as well as on the politiciansís decision making in the framework of the competition of the power-based conflict of interests. For the sake of considering and solving the eco-problems the government is to create the "mechanisms of research and discussion" as is stated by J. Passmore, Manís Responsibility for Nature (London: Duckworth, 1974), p. 97.

38. N. Luhmann, op. cit., p. 128.

39. U. Beck, op. cit., pp. 16-18.

40. N. Luhmann, op. cit., p. 128.

41. A. Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Oxford: Polity Press, 1990), p. 17.

42. Ibid., p. 146.

43. N. Luhmann, op. cit., p. 130.

44. L. Milbrath, Environmentalists: Vanguard for a New Society (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984); C. F. Ferkiss, The Future of Technological Civilization (New York: G. Braziller, 1976), W.T. Anderson, op. cit.

45. W.T. Anderson, op. cit., p. 291.

46. V. Bćlohradsky, op. cit., p. 191.

47. R. Dahrendorf, Moderny socialny konflikt (Modern Social Conflict) (Bratislava: Archa, 1991).

48. Ibid., p. 198.

49. Ibid., p. 199.

50. Ibid., p. 206.

51. L. White, Jr., "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," Science, 155, 37 (March 1967), 1203-7; J. Black, Manís Dominion (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1970).

52. L. Steffen, "In Defense of Dominion," Environmental Ethics, 4 (1992).

53. R. Attfield, Environmental Philosophy: Principles and Prospects (Aldershot: Avebury Press, 1993); J. Passmore, Manís Responsibility for Nature (London: Duckworth, 1974).




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