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Thinking Green


by Robert Mallary

I sensed I would be submitting something to the debate on "Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism' at the point in Martha Nussbaum's essay where she introduced the useful metaphor of the expanding concentric circles -- the outermost, in this case, being humanity as a whole. At this point, like many whose participation in panels and symposia can shift to the self-indulgent, I am all too ready to hop on my particular hobby horse and ride off in a direction chosen by the horse -- in this case a direction influenced by a 40-year concern with the environment closely linked to an art-related approach to General Systems Theory. So on entering the concentric circles of the Nussbaum metaphor, and on reaching the outermost circle I noted, not completely to my surprise, that the character of the outermost circle as viewed by her extends no further than to humanity and human concerns. So I asked then, and repeat the question now: why stop here? Why shouldn't this supposedly cosmopolitan world view also call for a deep identification with the entire web of life, which is easily extended to include Gaia, the name given the biosphere when viewed as a self-regulating system that can almost be thought of as alive? And why shouldn't this expanded world view, when serving as the basis for an educational program, encourage the students to "think green?"



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