Without Veering to the Two Extremes, the Buddha Expounds the Teaching of the Middle Path’: A Response to the Land Ethic of Environmental Holism and the Buddhist Viewpoints Within (I)
 (Chao-hwei Shih)

In the contemporary Western philosophy, environmental holism is mainly divided into two groups of discourses, i.e. the ‘Land Ethic’ and the ‘deep ecology’. A close examination shows that, by coincidence, both ecophilosophies converge with religion. In particular, when seeking the sources of the two philosophies, we are led to the core theories of religion. The ‘Land Ethic’ indicates a close connection with Christianity; its ecosystemic value shares the essentials of creationism. The ‘deep ecology’ is under the strong influence of Buddhism, which appears to advocate the idea of ‘The Universal Self’ but its essence resembles more those of ‘Nonself’ and ‘Great Compassion Born of Oneness’.

The first part of the current article briefed the series of the Western philosophical discourse on the Land Ethic (one of the representative discussions in holism of environmental ethics) and it continued to examine if this dialectal thinking effectively responded to two of the major criticisms hurled against holism (that holism is environmental fascism and that it commits the naturalistic fallacy in ethical terms, i.e. confusing the relation between ‘Sein’, is, and ‘Sollen’, ought to be.)

Moreover, this article took on a Buddhist approach to investigate the theological thinking embedded in the Land Ethic (particularly the systemic value) and its role in environmental ethics. Due to space limitations, the researcher’s reflections and reviews on the deep ecology will be presented in another article.

Keywords : Holism, individualism, the Land Ethic, dependent arising (s. pratīya-samutpāda; p. paticca-samuppāda), life conservation, the Middle Way, method of self-mastery




Department of Religious Studies, Hsuan Chuang University

Life Conservationist Association

HongShi Buddhist Cultural and Educational Foundation


Ministry of Science and Technology,Republic of China

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, R.O.C.

Ministry of Education, R.O.C.

Hsuan Chuang University


Hsuan Chuang University Research Center For Applied Ethics

Buddhist HongShi College