ECOLOGICAL SIN AND THE SCIENCE OF MORALITY
"The church must introduce in its teaching the sin against the environment. The ecological sin."
ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS “ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME’ June 2015
The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the soil, in the water, in the air, and in all forms of life.” (P. 2)
“Authentic human development has a moral character” (p.6).
“WE NEED TO DEVELOP A NEW SYNTHESIS CAPABLE OF OVERCOMNG FALSE AGUMENTS OF RECENT CENTURUES.” (P. 90).
As a Moral Ecologist Pope Francis has established the dominant role of the Environment in shaping Morality and the Moral Character. Ecological Sin is not confined to the geophysical environment but extends also to the psycho-social environment where Women, as Mothers, have the central role in Culture.
The scientific-professional communities concerned with Mothers and Children cannot escape their responsibilities for advancing a Science of Morality, without which, survival of homo sapiens is also threatened.
Spirituality, (a neocortical brain function), cannot be separated from the Material world, as advanced by some in the Attachment Parenting programs. The Second Brain (neocortical brain) must be integrated with the First Brain (the emotional-social-sexual limbic brain) that is first damaged by neglect, assault and the sensory deprivation of TOUCH and MOVEMENT primarily mediated by MOTHER that begins in utero.
MOTHER is defined and functions differently in these two brain systems. The First Brain is the world of Sensation, where the senses informs the developing fetus and child what constitutes Pain and Pleasure (Avoidance and Attraction); Acceptance or Rejection; Compassion/Caring; or Isolation/Psychopathy; and the Second Brain operates in an abstract world of signs and symbols where value systems are formed in thought and language (neocortical brain) that are influenced by PAIN AND PLEASURE experienced by the FIRST BRAIN.
Further details surrounding our Two Cultural Brains; how they are formed by Culture and, in turn, determines the nature and structure of Culture can be viewed at:
The Moral Ecology Of Pope Francis needs to be expanded beyond the Geophysical Universe to recognize that MOTHER EARTH encompasses all living life; that PAIN and PLEASURE determine Moral Character, e.g.,
“Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with a rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with a rod and save his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:13-14).
Indeed “WE NEED TO DEVELOP A NEW SYNTHESIS CAPABLE OF OVERCOMNG FALSE AGUMENTS OF RECENT CENTURUES.” (P. 90).
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, Book 7 (384-322 B.C.), following Epicurus (341-270 B.C.) and Lucretius (c.50 B.C.), in The Nature of Reality taught:
"Therefore, the highest good is some sort of pleasure, despite the fact that most pleasures are bad, and, if you like, bad in the unqualified sense of the word".
Clearly, Aristotle had in mind the pleasures of the mind and not the pleasures of the body.
Greenblatt (2012) in The Swerve, makes clear the distortions of Epicurean and Lucretian moral phiilosphy:
“When we say, then, that pleasure is the goal," Epicurus wrote in one of his few surviving letters, "we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality." The feverish attempt to satisfy certain appetites—"an unbroken succession of drinking bouts and of revelry . . . sexual love . . . the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table"—cannot lead to the peace of mind that is the key to enduring pleasure.”
"Men suffer the worst evils for the sake of the most alien desires," wrote his disciple Philodemus, in one of the books found in the library at Herculaneum, and "they neglect the most necessary appetites as if they were the most alien to nature." What are these necessary appetites that lead to pleasure? It is impossible to live pleasurably, Philodemus continued, "without living prudently and honourably and justly, and also without living courageously and temperately and magnanimously, and without making friends, and without being philanthropic."
…This is the voice of an authentic follower of Epicurus (p.77 ff)….
“A philosophical claim that life's ultimate goal is pleasure— even if that pleasure was defined in the most restrained and responsible terms—was a scandal, both for pagans and for their adversaries, the Jews and later the Christians. Pleasure as the highest good? What about worshipping the gods and ancestors? Serving the family, the city, and the state? Scrupulously observing the laws and commandments? Pursuing virtue or a vision of the divine? These competing claims inevitably entailed forms of ascetic self-denial, self-sacrifice, even self-loathing. None was compatible with the pursuit of pleasure as the highest good.”(p.78 ff).
On August15, 1820, the seventy-seven year old Jefferson wrote to another former President, his friend John Adams:
“I feel: therefore I exist.” I feel bodies which are not myself: there are other existencies then. I call them matter. I feel them changing place. This gives me motion. Where there is an absence of matter, I call it void, or nothing, or immaterial space. On the basis of sensation, of matter and motion, we may erect the fabric of all the certainties we can have or need.”
These are the sentiments that Lucretius had most hoped to instill in his readers. “I am” Jefferson wrote to a correspondent who wanted to know his philosophy of life, “an Epicurean”. p, 263.).
In an earlier 1972 essay Before Ethics and Morality --published in The Humanist—this writer concluded:
It is apparent that an infant or child is not "free" to select the nature of his sensory environment but is dependent upon adults for the quality of his sensory environment and, thus, his neurobiological development and psychobiological predispositions for certain kinds of behavior. From this perspective, it is evident that before a child can reason and before reason can establish principles of moral behavior, the course of an ethical and moral life has already been set. http://www.violence.de/prescott/humanist/ethics.html
Moral Behavior is not just an event of the neocortical brain. I, too am an Epicurean—JWP.
Pope Francis is encouraged to go beyond the Ecological Sins committed against the Geophysical Universe and engage the Ecological Sins committed against the Human Universe-- male and female he created them-- in the image of God he created them unequal.
The great unsolved mystery of the Abrahamic Religions is how the Abrahamic God Of Love (God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son… John 3: 16-17), was transformed into a God of Violence: 'The loathsomeness of all mankind has become plain to me, for through them the earth is full of violence. I intend to destroy them, and the earth with them" (Genesis 6:12-14.)
Some questions must be raised. Does the Abrahamic God, the Father, intend to repeat his actions of violent destruction of his own creation by agents of his own creation? Given the violence and disintegration throughout the World today, extinction becomes a reality.
Indeed, “WE NEED TO DEVELOP A NEW SYNTHESIS CAPABLE OF OVERCOMNG FALSE AGUMENTS OF RECENT CENTURIES.” (P. 90).
Greenblatt. Stephen( 2011). The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York 10110
Lucretius (c 50 B.C.). The Nature of Things. Translated and with Notes by A.E. Stallings. Introduction by Richard Jenkyns. Penguin Books Ltd. London 2007
N.B. POPE FRANCIS IS ENCOURAGED TO ADDRESS THE ECOLOGICAL SINS AGAINST HUMANITY IN ADDITION TO THE SINS AGAINST THE GEOPHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT THAT ARE WELL DESCRIBED IN THE SWERVE: THE BETRAYAL OF HUMAN LOVE FOR DEVINE LOVE (A DISEMBODIED HUMAN LOVE).
James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
21 June 2015