Saturday, November 27, 2010

Deep Down

In my draft essay "Ethics Beyond Sentience," I discuss mountaintop removal in Appalachia. The new film Deep Down does a very nice job getting into the complexities of the issue for the people who live in Appalachia, and the film actually has a happy ending, insofar as the people in the town/holler targeted for mining got a legal decision that de facto made mining there economically unfeasible. I also just caught wind of an article in Science highly critical of MTR. Another good piece is here. In a way, it's too bad that we need the article in Science magazine to make the practical case against MTR, since although the ecological impact surely matters to the people in those hollers, too, that doesn't seem to be the deeper (or deepest) reason to leave the mountains alone.


  1. Your invocation of St. Pierre strikes me as generously selective. I'm glad this piece wasn't brought to my attention before his lecture, as I was sorely tempted to make some critical queries after his presentation -- the most intriguing aspect of which, to me, was his appeal to sacred values on behalf of both group identity claims and the more ecumenical in scope ecological conscience-raising stuff. Made me more acutely aware than usual of the severe trade-offs entailed by my sort of anomic and disenchanted secularism.

  2. Well, there's always something risky about invoking traditional Native American ideas, but I felt that since I'm doing this for the Chautauqua journal, I wanted to make the connection, put it out there as something like a template for correcting the conception of life as discontinuous, the dirt as dead. I'm curious to hear if you can say a little more. (I don't quite see the connection with the article you linked to; yeah, things are bad on the reservation...he talked some more about that after the talk.)

  3. Yes, I mean my observation as a compliment to you, as I thought there was much to take issue with in his talk, especially in regard to the first question that was asked afterwards concerning ambivalence, and his seeming approval of it, towards "Western" science, the value of scientific literacy, science education, as if the amenities of modern life, lower mortality rates, longer lifespans, med, etc. -- things that most people around the world seem to want more of -- aren't essentially involved in what he points out for condemnation. It would be interesting to juxtapose his message, of looking to the past for guidance and restraint, with that of, say, Savulescu who, arguing that that is a certainly hopeless dead end, and that our moral and religious traditions are ill-suited to the problems we face, urges greater immersion in the possibilities opened up by 'Western" science' to avert what otherwise lies ahead for humanity.