ISBN-10:
0262015900
ISBN-13:
9780262015905
Pub. Date:
08/26/2011
Publisher:
MIT Press
Plato's Revenge: Politics in the Age of Ecology

Plato's Revenge: Politics in the Age of Ecology

by William Ophuls
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Overview

In this provocative call for a new ecological politics, William Ophuls starts from a radical premise: "sustainability" is impossible. We are on an industrial Titanic, fueled by rapidly depleting stocks of fossil hydrocarbons.

Making the deck chairs from recyclable materials and feeding the boilers with biofuels is futile. In the end, the ship is doomed by the laws of thermodynamics and by the implacable biological and geological limits that are already beginning to pinch. Ophuls warns us that we are headed for a postindustrial future that, however technologically sophisticated, will resemble the preindustrial past in many important respects. With Plato's Revenge, Ophuls, author of Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity, envisions political and social transformations that will lead to a new natural-law politics based on the realities of ecology, physics, and psychology.

Conventional environmental politics tries to treat the most glaring symptoms of ecological illness while ignoring the anti-ecological dynamic that created them.

Ophuls returns to first principles, relying on time-tested classical authors—Plato,Rousseau, Jefferson, Thoreau, and others who have grappled with the fundamental issues of politics. He invites readers to question their most basic social,economic, political, and even moral assumptions, as the first step toward imagining a truly ecological future. In a discussion that ranges widely—from ecology to quantum physics to Jungian psychology to Eastern religion to Western political philosophy—Ophuls argues for an essentially Platonic politics of consciousness dedicated to inner cultivation rather than outward expansion and the pursuit of perpetual growth. We would then achieve a way of life that is materially and institutionally simple but culturally and spiritually rich, one in which humanity flourishes in harmony with nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262015905
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 08/26/2011
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.37(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William Ophuls is the author of the award-winning Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity and Requiem for Modern Politics.

What People are Saying About This

Robert Paehlke

"What Ophuls does in Plato's Revenge is what needs to be done more often but is rarely even attempted. The study of political philosophy in universities is primarily about studying the classic texts and assessing them but not about actually updating and re-inventing political philosophy. This book should encourage others to make similarly brave attempts to rethink how present and future societies might be organized given the array of environmental and sustainability challenges that we face."—Robert Paehlke, Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University; author of Democracy's Dilemma: Environment, Social Equity, and the Global Economy

Herman Daly

"Ophuls takes us on a wide-ranging review of history, philosophy,science, and political economy in search of natural law and objective value by which to replenish the 'lode of fossil virtue and belief' inherited from the premodern era and depleted by modern nihilism. A worthy contribution."—Herman E. Daly, Professor Emeritus, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

Endorsement

For decades, William Ophuls has been among the world's most original thinkers about the implications of our global ecological crisis for freedom, democracy, and political order. In Plato's Revenge, he goes to the essence of this crisis: the deep, tacit, and widespread beliefs that nature and society are nothing more than machines, that the state should play no role in cultivating citizens' virtue, and that self-interested individuals should rely solely on reason to guide their lives. Ophuls weaves together the ideas of some of history's greatest thinkers to argue that humankind's future lies in small, simple republics that cultivate their citizens' virtue through natural law. In doing so, he shreds conventional wisdom and invigorates our conversation about the kind of world we intend our grandchildren to inherit.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, University of Waterloo, author of The Upside of Down:Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization

From the Publisher

Ophuls takes us on a wide-ranging review of history, philosophy, science, and political economy in search of natural law and objective value by which to replenish the 'lode of fossil virtue and belief' inherited from the premodern era and depleted by modern nihilism. A worthy contribution.

Herman Daly , Professor Emeritus, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

What Ophuls does in Plato's Revenge is what needs to be done more often but is rarely even attempted. The study of political philosophy in universities is primarily about studying the classic texts and assessing them but not about actually updating and re-inventing political philosophy. This book should encourage others to make similarly brave attempts to rethink how present and future societies might be organized given the array of environmental and sustainability challenges that we face.

Robert Paehlke , Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University; author of Democracy's Dilemma: Environment, Social Equity, and the Global Economy

For decades, William Ophuls has been among the world's most original thinkers about the implications of our global ecological crisis for freedom, democracy, and political order. In Plato's Revenge , he goes to the essence of this crisis: the deep, tacit, and widespread beliefs that nature and society are nothing more than machines, that the state should play no role in cultivating citizens' virtue, and that self-interested individuals should rely solely on reason to guide their lives. Ophuls weaves together the ideas of some of history's greatest thinkers to argue that humankind's future lies in small, simple republics that cultivate their citizens' virtue through natural law. In doing so, he shreds conventional wisdom and invigorates our conversation about the kind of world we intend our grandchildren to inherit.

Thomas Homer-Dixon , University of Waterloo, author of The Upside of Down:Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization

Thomas Homer-Dixon

"For decades, William Ophuls has been among the world's most original thinkers about the implications of our global ecological crisis for freedom,democracy, and political order. In Plato's Revenge, he goes to the essence of this crisis: the deep, tacit, and widespread beliefs that nature and society are nothing more than machines, that the state should play no role in cultivating citizens' virtue, and that self-interested individuals should rely solely on reason to guide their lives. Ophuls weaves together the ideas of some of history's greatest thinkers to argue that humankind's future lies in small, simple republics that cultivate their citizens' virtue through natural law. In doing so, he shreds conventional wisdom and invigorates our conversation about the kind of world we intend our grandchildren to inherit."—Thomas Homer-Dixon, University of Waterloo, author of The Upside of Down:Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization

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