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Confucianism and Ecology

Confucianism and Ecology

The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans

Edited by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Berthrong

ISBN 9780945454168

Publication date: 08/15/1998

Confucianism demonstrates a remarkable wealth of resources for rethinking human-earth relations. This second volume in the series on religions of the world and the environment includes sixteen essays that address the ecological crisis and the question of Confucianism from three perspectives: the historical describes this East Asian tradition's views of nature, social ethics, and cosmology, which may shed light on contemporary problems; a dialogical approach links Confucianism to other philosophic and religious traditions; an examination of engaged Confucianism looks at its involvement in concrete ecological issues.


  • The ethical thought of Confucianism is often understood as being grounded in a thoroughgoing anthropocentrism, emphasizing as it does the proper ways for humans in various institutional positions and social classes to relate to one another. This anthology provides a corrective to that view and demonstrates that it is at best a partial picture of Confucian thought. Sixteen papers are included, and together they give the reader a sense of the conceptual tools that Confucianism has at its disposal for thinking about ecology and current environmental problems. Many of the essays draw from historical sources; a few look at the relationship between environmental problems and contemporary Confucian thinking. The authors do not attempt to whitewash or paint an unrealistically rosy picture of Confucianism's relation to the environment. Rather, they represent intellectually honest and realistic attempts to come to terms with Confucianism's past relationships and to envision ways in which Confucian thought can offer help in resolving current environmental crises. Most of the papers presuppose no special or extensive background knowledge of either ecology or Confucianism.

    —M. A. Michael, Choice


  • Mary Evelyn Tucker is Senior Lecturer, Yale Divinity School.
  • John Berthrong is Associate Dean for Academic and Administrative Affairs, Boston University School of Theology.

Book Details

  • 428 pages
  • Center for the Study of World Religions