As a philosophy graduate, I have a strong interest in the philosophical questions surrounding sustainability and the climate crisis. I did not pursue a path in academia, but I am strongly of the opinion that intellectual thought should not be the preserve of ivory towers. We should ask ourselves the big important questions in our everyday lives, and think more deeply about the decisions we make and what they mean.
Some of the big questions I have been asking myself lately relate to duty, responsibility and blame. What do we owe to others? What do we owe to the natural world? What responsibilities do we have, how how can we fulfil those responsibilities? How can we ‘do our duty’ for people and planet now, and in the future? And how can we tell if we are doing so?
Other big questions in this area relate to value – aesthetic and moral value. How do we assign value, and what does that really mean? Do humans even have the right to be the arbiters of value in the first place? Can assigning value alter behaviour, and if so, how?
Another avenue that I have been exploring myself is the concept that the Earth itself is not just an interconnected system but a living consciousness. If Earth (Gaia) is conscious, what are the moral and ethical implications of this?
Is there non-human consciousness driving global systems? Do we have unique consciousnesses and does it matter? (Are we part of or distinct from a global sentience?) What are the implications of our interactions with a conscious living earth? What obligation would exist in our interactions with a conscious Earth?
For me, answering all these questions is not the primary goal. But I do think that it is interesting and important to ask them.