Hope and ecology

Michael Northcott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Horkeimer and Adorno, and later Lynn White Jr, blame the anti-animist strain in Western Christianity, its origination of the scientific and industrial revolutions, and the European Enlightenment, as the cultural roots of the ecological crisis. But evidence shows there is no necessary connection between animism and care for other kind. I propose that a more fruitful approach is to reconsider the postReformation and scientific eschewal of agency in nonhuman beings and ecosystems such as forests, rivers, and the oceans. Rediscovering the “agency of the others” is also essential as a means to resolve the ecological crisis, since humans alone cannot restore or “save” the Earth from the systemic effects of 200 years of industrial pollution and destruction of resilient biodiverse habitats. Christian eschatological hope has valuable resources for this approach including evidence that in the lives of the saints new friendships were formed between humans and other animals. Analogously, recent developments in ecological restoration and “rewilding” indicate a
new peaceable partnership between humans and other kind and, in the light of Christian messianism, and the “theory of hope,” may be said to anticipate a wider ecological reconciliation between humans and other kind.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistorical and Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Hope
EditorsSteven Van den Heuvel
ISBN (Electronic)9783030464899
ISBN (Print)9783030464882
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Hope and ecology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this