11 June 2011

Human Ecology

Pope Benedict has taken up an interesting expression to place the human person at the center of questions of the natural order: "human ecology." This concept defends the human subject as the criterion for moral decisions regarding the environment, technology, the economy, really any human endeavor. In a sense, the Holy Father is insisting that we use the active voice -- that there be subjects to our "sentences" about exercising dominion in this world. I have been noticing how frequently the media use the passive voice, essentially removing or hiding the subject of the sentence and thereby placing the emphasis on the act rather than the actor. This makes the subject irresponsible for the act. It is bad style, of course, but it is also bad philosophy. (True "style," that is, matters of taste, etiquette, etc. are also a part of this human ecology, I believe. They really embody it. Defense of bad manners, for example, usually centers on the act rather than on the actor.) What is going on inside the human subject determines what actions result externally and their moral value. The human subject is the standard and carries the responsibility.

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