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Being Human: Ethics, Environment, and Our Place in the World First Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0520226555
ISBN-10: 0520226550
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Editorial Reviews

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"[Being Human] is one of the few books that begins to integrate theological narratives with scientific ones, looking for a compelling correlation between them where modern and religious sensibilities might both be affirmed." - Bron Taylor, author of Ecological Resistance Movements "Being Human succeeds at accounting for people's conception of humanness and humans' relationship with nature - no easy task, but one that is a crucial starting point for any discussion of environmental ethics." - Kay Read, author of Time and Sacrifice in the Aztec Cosmos "Being Human is a stellar work of integration.... [Peterson] draws together cultural constructionist, Asian, Native American, feminist and evolutionary thought to present a view of the human as both an integral part of nature and a creator of culture." - Rosemary Radford Ruether, author of Gain and God"

From the Inside Flap

"[Being Human] is one of the few books that begins to integrate theological narratives with scientific ones, looking for a compelling correlation between them where modern and religious sensibilities might both be affirmed. This is a unique work."—Bron Taylor, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and author of Ecological Resistance Movements: The Global Emergence of Radical and Popular Environmentalism.

"Being Human succeeds at accounting for people's conception of humaness and human's relationship with nature—no easy task, but one that is a crucial starting point for any discussion of environmental ethics."—Kay Read, Associate Professor of Comparative Ethics and Native American Religions, DePaul University, and author of Time and Sacrifice in the Aztec Cosmos

"Anna Peterson's Being Human is a stellar work of integration. Peterson argues that the ideology of human exceptionalism and disconnection from the rest of nature is a major source of social and ecological harm. She draws together cultural constructionist, Asian, Native American, feminist and evolutionary thought to present a view of the human as both an integral part of nature and a creator of culture, called to develop an ethic of interrelationality for the sake of the wellbeing of the whole earth community."—Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett Theological Center, author of Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing.

"In the postmodern academic climate of slice-and-dice, take-no-prisoners 'analysis,' and 'critical theory,' Anna Peterson's book is a welcome breath of fresh air. She positions her discussion as a development of—rather than a deconstructive triumph over—earlier work in the field of environmental philosophy. Peterson takes up the themes that are absolutely central to the field—the nature of nature, human nature, and the appropriate relationship between the two. Her conclusions are well-informed, well-reasoned, reasonable, and last but not least, beautifully and engagingly expressed."—Baird Callicott, Professor of Philosophy and Religion Studies, University of North Texas, and author of Earth's Insights: A Multicultural Survey of Ecological Ethics from the Mediterranean Basin to the Australian Outback (California, 1997), In Defense of the Land: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, and Beyond the Land Ethic: More Essays in Environmental Philosophy.

"Peterson challenges us to think critically about the ideas about nature and humanity that shape our ethical behavior. She also brings into critical dialogue insights from a wide variety of religious traditions—Buddhist, Taoist, Navaho, Koyukon, Catholic and Protestant. Peterson helps us think creatively and critically about the task of comparative ethics, and the imperatives of environmental ethics. This book is a must-read for any one concerned with environmental ethics and with comparative ethics."—Sharon Welch, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and author of A Feminist Ethic of Risk, Sweet Dreams in America: Making Ethics and Spirituality Work, and Communities of Resistance and Solidarity: A Feminist Theology of LIberation.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (May 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520226550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520226555
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,237,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Anna Peterson received her PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida and an affiliate of the Center for Latin American Studies and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. Her research and teaching focus on environmental and social ethics and religion in Latin America. She has published widely, including the books Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion: Progressive Catholicism in El Salvador's Civil War; Being Human: Ethics, Environment, and Our Place in the World; Residence on Earth: Utopian Communities in the Americas; and Everyday Ethics and Social Change: The Education of Desire, as well as two collaborative books and numerous journal articles. She is currently co-writing a book on teaching the ethics of sustainability for scientists and technology professionals.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By dennisqdw on September 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
I cannot say enough positive things about this book. Peterson manages to give the reader a thorough and balanced sense of historical approaches to environmental ethics. She covers all sides of the issues both in Euro-American philosophy and in other cultural traditions. But what truly makes the book unusual and well worth reading is that instead of taking the easy route toward one extreme position or another she carefully parses out and recombines a subtle set of conclusions from her sources. This may also be what keeps her from getting the attention I feel she deserves. The academic world (and the public even moreso) is much more responsive to an extreme argument that can easily be paraphrased. Unfortunately the world isn't so easy.

Her writing style is fluid and clear, and I think that anyone with an interest in this subject, and a willingness to slow down and pay attention, will benefit and enjoy reading the book. I liked it so much I bought 2 extra copies to loan out.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book reviewer on December 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
This very useful book provides an overview of a whole host of attitudes toward the environment, and how humanity sees itself interacting with nature. For example, although buddhism seems environmentally friendly, Peterson points out that Asian cultures where Buddhist views are prevalent are not marked by less ecological degradation. Peterson analyzes the points of view she presents with care and honesty, and without a particular axe to grind. Actually, it was on the side of presenting an integrative alternative that I found this book less successful. Doesn't such breadth of reading and understanding help us find a way out of the quagmire?

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in environmental ethics, in developing environmental policies, and in understanding how we have got to the current-day problems. It provides a great overview of a range of fields to anyone who is concerned with specific problems, but wants to base solutions on a sound grounding.

Nicely written, too; not hard going. Really an admirable project.
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